As a savvy client, check your US attorney license and beware tricky illegal services.
One of our clients recently revealed that some Ukrainian law firms advise on the US business law without having a US attorney license or even engaging a US licensed lawyer.
Moreover, those “lawyers” even have no US education, let alone a law degree, such as an LLM. Their advice may hence appear to be just a fairy tale.
Lack of Attorney License
The non-licensed practice of law surprised the client.
That’s indeed disturbing. Isn’t it?
This problem is apparently widespread. We’ve heard similar stories from other countries as well.
Have you ever experienced something like this?
Understandably, this might be something you have never paid attention to.
What quality, professionalism, or responsibility can you expect?
Most importantly, given a wrong advice or other service, you risk losing a business opportunity, incurring a loss or liability, and wasting your time and money.
That’s what licensing is there to prevent.
In order to provide any legal service under the US law, a person must have a license to practice as an attorney and counselor at law. The importance of this requirement is hard to overestimate.
Notably, the Supreme Court of each state sets the rules for bar admission, administers (via its board/office) the bar exam, vets each candidate’s character and fitness, admits to the bar, issues licenses, and oversees attorneys in that state. It’s a rigorous quality control system.
As a matter of fact, the US laws explicitly prohibit practicing law without a license. Thus, the providers who do this blatantly violate the law, not to mention the legal ethics rules.
The attorney license, therefore, essentially protects you. On the flip side, the absence of license largely jeopardizes you.
Instead of buying an unlawful service, you should have the comfort of knowing that the lawyer you select is actually licensed to practice law in the relevant jurisdiction.
To this end, you can easily check whether a certain person has a license to practice law in the US.
I’ll now show you how to look up your attorney license.
The process is quick and free of charge.
Let’s, for example, take the New York State. Say, you’d like to get a legal advice on how to buy a business in New York. In a share deal, the target is likely to be an LLC or corporation. To conduct a legal due diligence on your target, you find an NY attorney.
Next, check your attorney license following the step-by-step action plan below.
First, go to website nycourts.gov shown here:
Second, in the Legal Profession section, click the Attorney Directory subsection highlighted here:
Third, on the Attorney Search page, type the letters appearing in the picture and click Submit as shown here:
Fourth, on the opening page, type the first and last names of attorney and click Find Attorney as shown here:
Fifth, on the Search Results page, make sure that your attorney is in the list as shown here:
Finally, click on the attorney name and check his or her details outlined here:
Obviously, that’s fairly easy. Isn’t it?
From now on, remember a simple rule: No license – no service.
On top of all, if you still consider buying an illegal service, better save your money and avoid such a service at all. Rather, simply google your issue — just like those providers do. Better yet, find a licensed attorney.
Furthermore, ask if the lawyer actually practices the US law. If so, then he/she must usually comply with certain extra requirements, in particular to get continuing legal education (CLE) credits. Many foreign (non-American) lawyers licensed in the US actually do not practice the American law. So, beware.
As you can see, the US bar admission is crucially important for your own safety.
In my case, for instance, the New York bar admission even took over the Cambridge LLM degree perspective. Check out that battle of titans.
Good luck with hiring your legal lawyer!