When you are considering hiring a lawyer, you want the best lawyer you can find in your state of residence who has experience dealing with your type of legal matter. Your in-state lawyer is knowledgeable not only about the statutes and regulations of your state — they are quite familiar with local court practices as well.
If you are dealing with an issue out of state, you want the same level of legal expertise and local know-how. For example, suppose you are purchasing a residence in another state or you are involved in an environmental matter in Florida but you reside in Massachusetts.
In this situation, having an attorney in the foreign state means you have an attorney who can easily attend court hearings on your behalf and advise you about local filing practices.
If you are involved in a legal matter that already has you working with an in-state attorney, your attorney can often work with you to retain an out-of-state attorney to handle that piece of the legal work that is under the jurisdiction of the out-of-state court. In these types of arrangements, your local counsel will work closely with the out-of-state attorney to help protect your legal interests.
However, if you are involved in a legal issue that is not related to an in-state matter, you may be looking to hire an out-of-state attorney on your own. You can utilize the same process to secure the services of the out-of-state attorney as you would if you were looking for an in-state attorney.
As always, you can ask for recommendations from people you trust or from people who have worked with the recommended attorney previously. Also, the attorney you choose should clearly explain the scope of the representation and what you will be paying for the work they will be doing.
In your search for a qualified attorney out of state, there are some additional things to keep in mind. Your attorney should have received a law degree and passed the bar examination required by their state. These are prerequisites in most states for becoming an attorney licensed to practice law.
You can check with the court website or bar association in the outside state to determine whether the attorney has been lawfully licensed to practice law in your state. Also, your due diligence should always include checking for any ethical complaints or inquiries against the attorney.
Attorneys are required to be licensed in the state in which the legal issue arises or is being litigated, in order to avoid the illegal practice of law that may deprive a client of a full, and proper legal representation.
However, if you have a pre-existing relationship with an attorney you have come to trust to represent you on other legal matters, it is understandable that you may want that attorney to continue to represent you even if they are not licensed in the other state.
For some matters, your attorney may be able to represent you for a specific matter or transaction if there is a successful pro hac vice application. However, these situations are limited and the attorney is subject to strict admission rules.
A successful pro hac vice application means the attorney can practice law in a foreign state without committing the unauthorized practice of law. The attorney will be required to satisfy certain strict requirements that ensures the attorney is qualified to practice before the out-of-state court and will comply with local rules. These requirements include:
- Confirmation by a local attorney that the out-of-state attorney is in good standing and will comply with local rules and practices; and
- Affirmation by the out-of-state attorney that they will abide by the local rules.
The pro hac vice attorney can be subject to discipline both in their own jurisdiction and in the foreign jurisdiction for violation of local rules and model rules of ethical conduct. Each state has procedures for how to apply for pro hac vice admission and what actions the attorney may take on behalf of their client will under pro hac vice admission.
For example, some courts may not allow the pro hac vice attorney from filing papers or appearing in court on your behalf, which means that the services of a local attorney is will still be required.
If you are dealing with a legal matter in another state, you should consult with an attorney in that state. In finding the right attorney for you, you should conduct the same due diligence that you would if you were hiring hiring an attorney in your state of residence.