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American Bar Association (ABA)

19 February 2016

The bar councils are the only remaining speed bump in the government liberalising legal services, the law ministry secretary responsible for implementing the entry of foreign law firms said today.

19 February 2016

An American Bar Association (ABA) source told Legally India that the ABA president Paulette Brown had met with the law minister yesterday and talked about liberalisation.

20 February 2013

The American Bar Association (ABA) has ruled that foreign qualified lawyers may work as in-house lawyers in all 50 US states with limited authority.

In India in-house lawyers have to surrender state bar council registrations, meaning they can effectively work without oversight of the legal regulator. Some foreign-qualified lawyers therefore also work within companies' legal teams in India, although non-Indian lawyers are not permitted to practice in law firms or courts.

Until the ABA’s vote last week, foreign lawyers were barred from practising in-house in all but seven states. Although that rule has now been lifted, foreign qualified in-house lawyers will not be allowed to advise on US law without consulting an authorised US attorney.

The rule change was affected by Resolution 107A and 107B, two among several other resolutions passed by the ABA’s 560-member house of delegates in its mid-year meeting.

The new policy was motivated by the growing presence of multinational companies in the US, which, the ABA stressed, already had foreign lawyers practicing in the US albeit with little oversight. Authorising their registration will help to regulate them better, reasoned the body. [Law Gazette UK/Bizjournals]

Opponents argued that the resolution could pave the way for legal malpractice. Yale law school lecturer and former ABA standing committee chair Larry Fox said:

Foreign lawyers, for example, could file tax returns improperly, mishandle contracts and misunderstand domestic regulations.

Even the lawyers who have a good education engage in malpractice every day. Why should we add to the malpractice by adding to our profession people who by definition don't have an education in these matters? [Reuters]