Ways to Hire a Lawyer from Out of State

There are lots of reasons why people might find it necessary to hire an attorney in a state different from the state of their principal place of business or they personally live. Often this is the case when a person wants to buy or in some way dispose of real estate or in instances where someone is confronted with legal issues in a state besides their state of residence.

As a rule of thumb, an attorney should be accepted to practice in the state in which they are representing a client. This pertains regardless of whether contracts are up for negotiation or lawsuits have been filed. Exceptions to the general rule can be found in most jurisdictions.

For example, there are states that enable lawyers who are licensed in some other state to advocate on behalf of a client “pro hac vice” or “for this case.”  To be admitted pro hac vice, the attorney has to be admitted in some other state and petition the local court to accept him or her to represent the client in a specific issue. The local court might grant the petition, deny the petition, or recognize the petition with certain qualifications. For example, the local court could require the out-of-state attorney to practice with an attorney licensed in the state. The purpose of this demand is to better help the client by providing local counsel who has a better handle on local rules, state laws, and state procedures.

Going beyond pro hac vice practice, lawyers could be eligible in another state through reciprocity. By means of reciprocity, a lawyer may be permitted admission to the bar of a different state which does not restrict the lawyer to representing a client in one issue. This procedure is possible when the attorney is licensed in a state that would respect the other state’s attorney licenses. Usually, the lawyer will have to have practiced for a prescribed number of years in one state before the second state will issue a license to practice law.

Transactions between people of different states is without question more likely – in fact, it’s so much expected – today thanks to more travel choices and improvements in communications technology. This ostensibly could lead to the need for legal representation out of state. In such cases, it may be best to hire local counsel. Other cases could be served by asking that your legal representative be accepted pro hac vice or admitted to the bar based on reciprocity, if available. If usual counsel approves, the additional costs of travel should be deliberated as part of the fee arrangement. Often the client agrees to bear these extra expenses, as long as usual counsel is fully prepared to travel to the other state.