How to Hire a Lawyer from Out of State

There are all sorts of reasons why someone might find it expedient to hire a lawyer from a state other than the state of their principal place of business or residence. The most common reason?  When someone wants to acquire or sell real estate in a state where they don't live. It may be, too, that people have to address legal issues out-of-state.

As is normally the case, an attorney will be cleared to practice in the state in which they are representing a client. This holds whether contracts are up for negotiation or litigation has been filed. A lot of jurisdictions do allow exceptions to the general rule.

For instance, there are states that allow attorneys who are licensed in another state to represent a client “pro hac vice” or “for this case.”  To be admitted pro hac vice, the lawyer has to be admitted in another state and petition the local court to admit him or her to represent the client in a particular matter. The local court could accept the petition, reject the petition, or grant the petition with certain qualifications. To clarify, the local court might require the out-of-state attorney to practice with an attorney licensed in the state. The reason for this requirement is to better help the client by providing local counsel who’s more conversant with local rules, state laws, and state processes.

Going beyond pro hac vice practice, lawyers could be cleared in another state through reciprocity. By virtue of reciprocity, a lawyer could be extended admission to the bar of some other state which does not limit the lawyer to representing a client in a single matter. This procedure is a possibility when the lawyer is licensed in a state that would respect the other state’s attorney licenses. Usually, the lawyer must have practiced for a set number of years in one state before the second state will grant a license to practice law.

More convenient travel and communication has increased circumstances where contact with other states exists. This could certainly lead to someone needing legal representation out of state. In these situations, it may be best to obtain the services of local counsel. Other cases may be better handled by asking that your legal representative be allowed pro hac vice or admitted to the bar in accommodation of reciprocity, if applicable. If regular representation so consents, the extra financial outlays for travel ought to be discussed as part of the fee arrangement. Typically the client agrees to take on these further costs, assuming normal representation is fully prepared to travel to the other state.