The role of lawyers in societies is much broader than only facilitating international commerce. Lawyers supplying legal services abroad usually act as foreign legal consultants (FLC). A “foreign legal consultant” is a person who is admitted to practice and is in good standing as an attorney or counselor at law or the equivalent in a foreign country and has been issued a certificate of registration as a foreign legal consultant. Foreign legal consultants may provide advice in international law, the law of their home country or in the law of any third country for which they possess the required qualifications. In California FLCs are required to get registration from the State Bar of California, once registered they are permitted to practice law in a limited manner.
Over past few years, the legal service sector has grown phenomenally as a result of growth in international trade and emergence of new fields of practice, particularly business law. The areas like corporate restructuring, privatization, cross-border mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property rights, new financial instruments and competition law have attracted the need for more sophisticated legal services.
Many domestic lawyers contacted by clients regarding international matters have had little or no exposure to doing business abroad and dealing with foreign legal systems. Therefore, domestic lawyers attempting to advise their clients in international matters risk not representing their clients’ interests competently. In some instances, clients find out during the course of such representation that their domestic lawyers are not capable of addressing foreign legal, cultural, and communication issues as efficiently and economically as are lawyers experienced in international practice or foreign legal counsel.
More over it is somewhat difficult to assess the quality of law firms in distant markets. The problem arises since there is a lack of objective and reliable data upon which to accurately judge firms or the quality of the legal talent in any specific locale. National cultural characteristics can have a major impact because it is the individual interactions between the players that determine the quality of any transaction. If you choose people from similar national cultural backgrounds who can provide legal assistance in person regarding your legal issues in your country while you are sitting thousands of miles away and you don’t have to enter in to a risk of hiring a law firm that you never saw and never interacted personally with a single attorney available is worth giving a try.
For more information on FLC, please call us on 510 742 5887