Companies operating there have hailed the advisory by the ABA's ethics committee as a major step forward for their nascent industry.
"Several of us were waiting for this," said Ram Vasudevan, the chief executive officer of New York-based Quislex, which has 170 lawyers in Hyderabad, India. "This lays out the framework for how to do this."
The largest corporate law departments in U.S. companies in 2006 were:
- Citigroup (1,500 lawyers)
- GE (~1,200 lawyers)
- Liberty Mutual (~775 lawyers)
- State Farm (~720 lawyers)
- Allstate (~700 lawyers)
- Exxon was sixth, with 600 lawyers
- In 1997, the 200 largest law departments had a total of ~19,400 lawyers, and thus grew by a total of ~8,300 over nine years, for an average annual growth rate of 4.8%.
- In 1997, the AmLaw 100 had a total of ~42,600 lawyers, and in 2006 the AmLaw 100 had a total of ~70,100 lawyers (AmLaw), and thus grew by a total of ~27,500 lawyers over nine years, for an average annual growth rate of 7.2%.
- Put differently, in 1997, the AmLaw 100 had 2.2x as many lawyers in it as the 200 largest corporate departments; by 2006, the AmLaw 100 had 2.5x as many lawyers in its as the 200 largest departments.
The in-house legal marketplace – just like many other industries in China – has undergone an incredible transformation in the last decade. Where less than ten years ago in-house lawyers in China were almost nonexistent, as most legal work was handled by law firms, today companies are growing their in-house legal ranks at an unprecedented rate.
The leader of the pack is Alibaba – the world's largest online B2B marketplace. With 14 lawyers among its 2,000-plus employees, and plans to add at least another 6 in-house counsels, including a new chief legal officer, the company is at the forefront of this hot in-house hiring trend.
Today, companies in China – both domestic and multinational – are no longer rushing to costly international law firms for help every time a question comes up. Increasingly, they're grooming their own legal team to compete in the heated China market.
Bilingual American lawyers with international law firm experience are the hot tickets for U.S. companies conducting business in China. That said, American corporations are not the only ones that are seeking American talent, especially for top legal jobs.
Certain Chinese companies prefer the rigor and specificity of American legal training, and are increasingly looking to hire U.S. trained attorneys. One of the draw: U.S-trained lawyers tend to have a greater familiarity with the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate governance reforms – that's a skill that Chinese companies – with an eye to an overseas stock market listing need.
With the growing uncertainty of the domestic legal market, a number of U.S. attorneys have made the in-house leap to China. Are you ready to make your move?
Hollywood has opened up the legal world to our eyes in a series of provocative, intense, and sometimes downright heart wrenching movies.
From the incisive Henry Drummond and the droll Mr. Lincoln to the callow Danny Kaffee and the regal Atticus Finch, lawyers have provided some of Hollywood’s most memorable cinematic heroes and some of its most honorable and thoughtful films.
Earlier this year, the ABA Journal asked 12 prominent lawyers who teach film or are connected to the business to choose what they regard as the best movies ever made about lawyers and the law.
Together these films represent 31 Oscar wins and another 85 nominations as befits the best work of some of the greatest actors, writers and directors of their time.
So quiet, please. A rap of the gavel, a pull of the curtain, and ‘Hear ye! Hear ye!’ for the 25 greatest law films ever made (in alphabetical order):
- 12 Angry Men
- A Civil Action
- A Few Good Men
- A Man for All Seasons
- Anatomy of a Murder
- And Justice for All
- Breaker Morant
- Erin Brockovich
- In the Name of the Father
- Inherit the Wind
- Judgment at Nuremberg
- Kramer vs. Kramer
- Miracle on 34th Street
- My Cousin Vinny
- Presumed Innocent
- Reversal of Fortune
- The Paper Chase
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- Verdict, The
- Witness for the Prosecution
- Young Mr. Lincoln
Which one is you favorite legal flick of all times?
If you have, then you are no alone. The idea of living and practicing law overseas has become very popular. However, the actual steps of making your international dream into a reality often appear to be impractical and difficult.
The good news is that it has become increasingly easy, as well as common, for lawyers to be licensed to practice in foreign jurisdictions.
So, where do you start?
Permission To Work.
The first thing you need to determine when considering a job abroad is whether you can work legally here, and the steps you need to take to obtain working permission.
For the purpose of this post, I will not provide an exhaustive review of the requirements in a large number of jurisdictions. I will focus on the admissions process for American lawyers in England, Australia, and Hong Kong, where a candidate in these jurisdictions does not face a language barrier, and the process is simplified for a lawyer with prior training in common law.
Admission in England.
Second, England is a common law jurisdiction; hence English lawyers approach problems in a fashion similar to their American counterparts. Third, the process and requirements are far from onerous. That being said, however, it is essential to remember that England has a distinctly different legal system. One of the most notable differences is that the legal profession is divided into solicitors and barristers.
Solicitors: The solicitors are, by far, the larger of the two professional groups. They do almost everything that we normally associate with ‘‘lawyer’s work’’ except in-court advocacy in front of the higher courts and the presentation of appellate cases. Solicitors and barristers are not permitted to work together as a law firm. Solicitors’ offices and barristers’ chambers are always completely separate and distinct. Barristers are not hired by the client. The client retains a solicitor and when the services of a barrister are necessary, the solicitor retains a barrister to argue the case.
Barristers: Transfer admission as a barrister is done through the Bar Council. However, at the practical level, given the ethical constraints of the barrister’s profession and the serious difficulties of establishing a practice, it would be almost pointless for an American lawyer to obtain a professional qualification as a barrister unless he or she intends to relocate to England and practice full time as a barrister.
Admission as a Solicitor follows a three-step process:
- you have graduated from law school;
- you hold a license to practice law;
- you have actively practiced law for at least two years;
- you have not been in bankruptcy or convicted of a crime; and
- you have not previously been disbarred or subject to professional discipline.
- Litigation (civil or criminal procedure)
- Professional Conduct and Solicitor’s Accounts
However, rather than a completely separate track for the admission of foreign lawyers, the external lawyer is admitted under the same standards and procedures as a novice domestic lawyer but with a system of exemptions from various requirements. Like England, New South Wales has both solicitors and barristers. The requirements for admission as a solicitor follow.
A person seeking to qualify as a solicitor in New South Wales must meet certain educational and experience requirements.
For a domestic applicant, they must either graduate from an Australian law school or independently pass a series of examinations on various legal topics such as contracts and torts given through the Legal Practitioners Admission Board. An American applicant who attended law school in the United States can readily obtain an exemption for most of the educational requirements.
The second requirement is that of practical training. An Australian law student, after completing school, is required to have a period of on-the-job training with a law firm. This period of ‘‘articles’’ or apprenticeship normally lasts several years. An American lawyer with at least five years of general practice experience will normally receive a complete exemption from this requirement as well.
It is important to bear in mind that the education and experience requirements are not prerequisites to take a bar examination. New South Wales does not have a bar examination; meeting the education and experience requirements is sufficient.
An American lawyer with the training and experience suggested above would take the following steps to become admitted in New South Wales:
- First, apply to the board for academic exemptions by furnishing the board with U.S. law school transcripts and asking them to make a formal determination whether any further course work is required. For U.S. applicants, usually all academic requirements except real property and Australian constitutional law are exempted.
- While taking these courses, you will also want to file with the board to obtain exemption from the practical training requirement. If you can show that you have had at least five years of general practice, you will be exempted from the training requirement.
- With the academic and training exemptions in hand, you would then file the formal application, with supporting documents, with the board to obtain actual admission to practice as a solicitor in New South Wales.
Admission in Hong Kong more closely resembles the process in England than Australia. Like England and Australia, the profession in Hong Kong is divided into solicitors and barristers. In Hong Kong, like England, there is a system in place specifically designed for the admission of foreign lawyers as solicitors. This system is administered by the Hong Kong Law Society.
Admission as a Solicitor follows a three-step process:
The threshold requirements for admission as an overseas lawyer are minimal; there is no express educational requirement, but you must be admitted to practice in another jurisdiction and have practiced for a minimum of two years.
A lawyer applying from a common law jurisdiction is required to pass up to four examinations:
- Conveyancing and Landlord and Tenant
- Civil and Criminal Procedure
- Commercial and Company Law
- Accounts and Professional Conduct
Due to the unusual nature of land law in Hong Kong, only those having significant experience in dealing with real estate in Hong Kong are eligible for a waiver of the real property examination.
Filing the Overseas Lawyer Qualification Application Form begins the process, with a letter requesting exemptions for which you may be entitled, supporting documentation showing your domestic licensure, length of practice experience, and such evidence as would support your request for exemptions, together with the application fee. The Department of Standards and Development of the Hong Kong Law Society will evaluate your application and advise you regarding which examinations you must take.
The second step is to prepare to take the examinations. There are two accredited preparatory course providers who offer both classroom instruction or distance learning programs:
- Info-Cite/LexisNexis Butterworths
- The School of Professional and Continuing Education
The third step is to actually sit for the examinations, after submitting an application for examinations to the law society and paying the examination fee, based on the number of exams. The exams are given only in Hong Kong. The various exams are offered within a few days of each other and each exam lasts 3 1/2 hours.
The overall pass rate for the exams ranges from 50 percent to 70 percent and the pass rate on the exams that an experienced American Lawyer would most apt to be required to take (property and ethics) are around 70 percent. When a candidate passes the required exams, he or she can apply for admission as a solicitor.
Aside from a simple formal application form and the fee, there is also a residency requirement that can be satisfied by:
- residing in Hong Kong 90 days prior to admission
- residing in Hong Kong 90 days after admission
- being ordinarily a resident of Hong Kong
Of course, after you have met the country's various licensure requirements, the next crucial step is to find employment overseas. "How to Conduct a Succesful Search Overseas" is a topic we will cover in a future blog post.