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Standing Committee on International Trade in Legal Services

About the Committee

The Standing Committee monitors ongoing trade negotiations and other initiatives that impact trade in legal services; informs and educates ABA members and state regulators about legal services trade issues and their implications for the regulation and practice of law in the U.S. and abroad; and regularly communicates with Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Department of Commerce regarding legal services.

Read more about the Standing Committee here

Featured Resources

Remote Border Crossing: COVID-19, Changes in Lawyer Mobility and International Trade in Legal Services

Remote Border Crossing: COVID-19, Changes in Lawyer Mobility and International Trade in Legal Services

CLE Program
Remote Border Crossing: COVID-19, Changes in Lawyer Mobility and International Trade in Legal Services [CC]

The pandemic has been a game changer for remote global practice, whether it's inbound foreign lawyers or outbound U.S. lawyers. Learn about the ethical and international trade implications of this shift and what it means for your practice and your firm.  Co-sponsored by the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility and the Standing Committee on International Trade in Legal Services.

A recording of the program, made available at no cost to ABA members, may be accessed here.

American Bar Association Model Rules on Foreign Lawyer Access

2022 Trade Policy Agenda and 2021 Annual Report of the President of the United States on the Trade Agreements Program.  March 2022, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

2022 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers. An annual report issued by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative that highlights significant foreign barriers to U.S. exports. The report includes sections on legal services market access in selected countries.

Recent Trends in U.S. Services Trade: 2022 Annual Report. This annual report by the U.S. International Trade Commission focuses on U.S. exports and imports of services. Approximately every three years this report focuses on coverage of professional services, including legal services. The 2021 report is the most recent version to do so and the specific sections on legal services can be found on pages 38-40 and 61-66.

U.S.-UK Legal Services Roundtable
On November 6th, in conjunction with a meeting of the U.S.-UK Trade and Investment Working Group, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative hosted a Legal Services Roundtable.  Participants included U.S. and UK government officials as well as representatives from the U.S. and UK legal professions.  Professor Laurel Terry and Mr. Jonathan Goldsmith gave presentations on legal regulation and related trade in services issues in the U.S. and UK respectively and the group then discussed possible ways to improve collaboration on legal services.  See Professor Terry’s presentation here and Mr. Goldsmith’s presentation here.

Conference of Chief Justices Resolution. (January 28, 2015) “In Support of Regulations Permitting Limited Practice by Foreign Lawyers in the United States to Address Issues Arising from Legal Market Globalization and Cross-Border Legal Practice.”

Admitting Foreign-Trained Lawyers in States Other than New York: Why It MattersProf. Laurel Terry, The Bar Examiner, December 2014.

Testing Foreign-Trained Applicants in a New York State of Mind. Diane Bosse, The Bar Examiner, December 2014.

International Bar Association Global Cross-Border Legal Services Report. The IBA has created a database of information about the regulation of trade in legal services.  This will provide individual lawyers and law firms with information to assist them in representing their clients internationally and developing their businesses. It will also assist bar associations, governments and other institutions that are looking to change the way they regulate practice by foreign lawyers.

International Trade in Legal Services and Professional Regulation: A Framework for State Bars Based on the Georgia Experience  (State Toolkit).  This white paper recounts the experience of the State Bar of Georgia and the Georgia Supreme Court in adopting a regulatory regime to confront issues arising from globalization, cross-border practice and lawyer mobility.  Georgia has assumed a leadership position in adopting rules that specifically address and regulate some of the various means by which lawyers from foreign countries may seek to perform services in that state. The Georgia experience provides lessons on how other state bars can generate a consensus to move forward on these issues.

Conference of Chief Justices Resolution (January 29, 2014) encouraging its members to consider the “International Trade in Legal Services and Professional Regulation: A Framework for State Bars Based on the Georgia Experience” as a guide to address issues arising from legal market globalization and cross-border legal practice.  

ABA Communications

February 7, 2018 – ABA letter to California State Senator William Monning expressing the ABA's support for Senate Bill 766, to authorize out-of-state and foreign attorneys to represent parties in international commercial arbitrations held in California.

December 5, 2017 – ABA letter to Russian Deputy Minister of Justice Denis Novak regarding consideration of any revision to the rules enabling foreign law firms to practice in Russia.

April 11, 2016 – ABA comments on amendments to Korea’s Foreign Legal Consultant Act and the subsequent amendments to the Enforcement Decree and Enforcement Rules proclaimed on March 2, 2016 by the Ministry of Justice.

October 28, 2015 – ABA comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in response to a request for comments to compile the National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers. The comments focus on trade barriers to the provision of legal services and highlight existing barriers in two countries of particular importance to the U.S. legal profession – South Korea and India – and urge USTR to make legal services a priority in all ongoing trade dialogue and negotiations.

May 7, 2015 – ABA comments in response to the proposed draft amendment to South Korea’s Foreign Legal Consultant Act (“draft amendment”) issued by the Ministry of Justice on March 27, 2015.

March 10, 2015 – ABA letter in regard to the ongoing initiative to develop legislation necessary to implement the third stage of the legal services provisions in the Free Trade Agreement between the Republic of Korea and the United States (Korea-US FTA).

November 19, 2014 - Letter from ABA President William Hubbard to CCBE President Aldo Bulgarelli regarding interests of the EU and US legal professions in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations.

March 27, 2013 – ABA submits a written statement to the International Trade Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee for a hearing on “U.S.-India Trade: Opportunities and Challenges” highlighting the importance of legal services to the bilateral economic relationship and outlining the current restrictions against U.S. law firms.

View all related ABA Communications


King & Spalding to Close Moscow Office in Summer 2021 International (subscription required)

King & Spalding is closing its Moscow office this summer, the latest in a series of recent upheavals in the Russian capital’s international legal community.

Freshfields Lands Kirkland M&A Partner for Silicon Valley Office International (subscription required)

The U.K.-based firm has been making a strong push in Silicon Valley.

McDermott Hires Squire Patton Singapore Co-Head Ahead of Office Launch International (subscription required)

McDermott Will & Emery has hired Squire Patton Boggs Singapore co-managing partner, Ignatius Hwang, as a partner in London, following the firm’s decision to apply for a foreign law practice license in the city-state.

King & Wood Mallesons Continues China Expansion with New Chongqing Office International (subscription required)

King & Wood Mallesons is expanding its geographical reach in the country the firm has identified as its main growth market. The Chongqing office is the firm’s second office opening in China in just over a year, after the firm opened in Hainan in the country’s south in late 2019.

Lateral Hires in Asia Already Surpassing All of 2020 International (subscription required)

Law firms in Asia are in the midst of a hiring frenzy. Major firms—both global and Asia-based—have been adding partners at a feverish pace, competing for talent across the region as they bolster their practices to meet the needs of global businesses emerging from the disruptions caused by COVID-19.

McDermott signals Asia reboot with hire of Squire Patton Boggs' Singapore co-head
Global Legal Post

McDermott Will & Emery has hired Squire Patton Boggs’ Singapore co-managing partner, Ignatius Hwang, as it prepares to relaunch in Asia with a Singapore office focusing on energy and infrastructure.

The move comes less than a year after the firm’s Shanghai joint venture office transferred to Chicago rival Winston & Strawn, ending its on-the-ground presence in Asia.

Exclusive: Texas law firm Vinson & Elkins on half a century in London
City A.M.

Texan law firm Vinson & Elkins just celebrated 50 years in London. When V&E first came to the capital, US law firms were still something of a novelty, says Jeffrey Eldredge, a Texas-born partner at the firm, who has worked for the company for more than three decades, mostly from the London office.

At the time, he says, there was not many international law firms in London, and even large English firms did not have much of a global reach.

Singapore's Arbitration Centre Opens Office in New York As Competition With Hong Kong Grows International (subscription required)

For years, Singapore has been competing with Hong Kong to be Asia’s preferred arbitral seat. And the Singapore International Arbitration Centre’s new office in New York might just be the edge that will finally puts the Southeast Asian city-state over the top. Launched in December, the office, now in operation virtually due to the pandemic, has received overwhelmingly positive responses from U.S. firms and companies, said SIAC’s head of Americas Adriana Uson, who will eventually be leading a physical New York office. In 2020 alone, 545 U.S. parties have arbitrated under SIAC’s rules, representing an eightfold increase from 65 U.S. parties just the year before.

Clients Call The Shots On Geographic Expansion International (subscription required)

Despite the shift to remote work, office openings have continued, one right after the other. Firms of various sizes have been popping up in new cities, and they’re putting down roots.

India's Khaitan to open first overseas office in Singapore
Legal Business Online

India’s second-largest firm, Khaitan & Co, is set to open an office in Singapore next month. Khaitan will operate as a licensed foreign law practice in Singapore, offering Indian law expertise including international commercial arbitration, as permitted by its licence. 

Atsumi & Sakai Announces Establishment of New York Office

Award-winning Japanese law firm Atsumi & Sakai is pleased to announce the establishment of an office in New York (Formal name: Atsumi & Sakai New York LLP), which will enable the firm to provide more convenient legal services in North and South America.  The New York office will be led by Bonnie L. Dixon, a veteran partner of the firm and the first non-Japanese lawyer to be a partner of a Japanese law firm in the post-war era.

Global Law Firm Rimon PC expands international reach with opening of new London office

Rimon’s reach now includes a presence on five continents, with offices throughout the United States as well as in Paris, Berlin, Bogota, London, Moscow, Shenzhen, Sydney, Tel Aviv, and Warsaw. 

Debevoise & Plimpton Closes Tokyo Office (subscription required)

Debevoise & Plimpton has closed its Tokyo office after five years operating in the Japanese capital.

“After a careful business review, we made the decision to close our Japan office. We continue to serve the Japan market effectively from New York and other offices,” a representative for the firm said in a statement.

Legal services in Singapore: an interview with the British High CommissionerThe Law Society Gazette

We spoke with High Commissioner Kara Owen about the importance of legal services to Singapore’s economy and the opportunities available to UK firms.

View past news here


Upcoming Events:

ABA 2022 Virtual Midyear Meeting
February 9-14, 2022

Past Events:

International Law Section 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting
April 14-16, 2021

ABA Section of International Law
2018 Spring Meeting
April 17-21, 2018
New York, NY

2018 Annual Meeting
July 27-Aug. 7, 2018
Chicago, IL

2016 Annual Meeting Program

Going Global: Association between Local and Foreign Lawyers and Law Firms

This event took place on Saturday, August 6, 2016. Click here to view the materials.

2015 ABA Annual Meeting: CLE Program

It’s a Small World After All:
A Global Tour of Transnational Regulatory Changes Affecting You!

This event took place on Friday, July 31. Click on the link below to view the materials. Click here to view the materials.

ABA Policy

August 1990 - European Community. Support the European Community's commitment to create a single, integrated market. Urge the European Community to implement measures in such a manner as to ensure effective, nondiscriminatory market access for non-EC-based business entities. Urge that companies organized under the laws of all EC member states are to be treated on an equal basis without regard to the ultimate beneficial ownership of the company. Recommend that measures relating to the integration of the legal profession be designed so as to ensure the preservation of the integrity of the legal profession and the continued recognition of its distinctive characteristics and responsibilities. Recommend that measures adopted by the European Community should not impose or permit restrictions upon the delivery of legal services by members of foreign legal professions that are not objectively required for the protection of the public. 90A307

February 2016 – Amendment of Rule 5.5 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the ABA Model Rule for Registration of In-House Counsel.  Model Rules amended to include language specifying that the court of highest appellate jurisdiction may, in its discretion, allow foreign in-house lawyers who do not meet the ABA definition of foreign lawyer because they cannot be “members of the bar” to be able to practice as in-house counsel in the U.S. and to be so registered.

August 2013 – International Legal Regulatory Information Exchange.  Urges the highest courts of states and lawyer regulatory authorities to coordinate with their foreign regulatory counterparts and enter into voluntary arrangements to facilitate the exchange of relevant information, consistent with the jurisdictions’ rules, and adopts the Guidelines for an International Regulatory Information Exchange, dated August 2013. 13A104

February 2013 – Model Rule on Pro Hac Vice Admission.  Model Rule amended to provide judges with guidance about whether to grant limited and temporary practice authority to foreign lawyers to appear in U.S. courts. 13M107C

February 2013 – Model Rule for Registration of In-House Counsel.  Model Rule amended to permit a foreign lawyer to serve as in-house counsel, but with the added requirement that the foreign lawyer may not advise on U.S. law except on the basis of advice from a lawyer who is duly licensed and authorized to provide such advice. 13M107B

View all related ABA Policy here

Related ABA Publications

Guide to Bar Admission Requirements

The Comprehensive Guide sets out the rules and practices of all U.S. jurisdictions for admission to the bar by examination and on motion. Available as a free download by clicking on the title and for purchase in the ABA Webstore.

International Bar Admissions

An overview of the bar admission process in more than 50 countries, including issues of language, educational requirements, character and fitness, challenges, reiprocity, and where to find more information.

U.S. Legal Studies

An unofficial guide for foreign lawyers considering the study of law in the United States, it includes factors that prospective students should consider in deciding whether or not to study in the United States, the application process, and the U.S. law school experience.

Guide to Foreign Law Firms

The ABA Guide to Foreign Law Firms, Fifth Edition, is designed to help lawyers in identifying qualified legal counsel in the many foreign jurisdictions with which such lawyers are likely to come into contact, particularly those in countries emerging as significant factors in international commercial transactions.