By Jessica M. Guevara
Right after law school, you take the bar exam, pass it and think that it is the end of the story; however, a very important client or a huge case may require you to take another bar exam. Or. maybe you have been in practice for some years now, but you had to move to another state and seek reciprocity. Whatever the situation may be, you still need to fulfill your duties under the ethics law and provide your clients with competent and diligent representation.
It is very important for you to comply, not only with the substantive law of the jurisdiction and its customs, but also with the local bar ethics rule. The Duty of Competence calls us to provide a “competent representation to a client… [and it] requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.”1 In its comments, the rule considers one of the factors to determine competency to include “any preparation and study”2 the attorney does during the representation. Furthermore, we are called to diligently represent our clients,3 and we must do so “despite [any] opposition, obstruction or personal inconvenience to the lawyer.”4 Thus, getting acquainted with the local law and rules is very important in any multi-jurisdictional practice.
During my professional career, I moved and obtained some licenses along the way, which include an international license in Caracas, Venezuela, and three United States state licenses (Georgia, South Carolina and New York). During my multi-jurisdictional practice, I have learned a few practical things about keeping a diligent practice, and I would like to share some of these things with you. This is a short practical guide on how to keep yourself diligent and competent while practicing in a jurisdiction you do not live in.
1. Join a local bar section
I will say it again: join a local bar section in that new jurisdiction! I cannot stress this enough. You might think that there is no point in paying the fee if you won’t be able to physically attend the meetings and mixers. However, think again. These resourceful bar sections have targeted emails with relevant information on the area of law that you practice. This means valuable information with legal updates in that jurisdiction for that specific area of law.
Furthermore, sometimes, the sections provide a call-in number for you to attend meetings by phone—thus, you do not have to worry about travelling there once a month, or not being able to attend because of your location. The advantage of joining and attending these meetings is, first, it gives you the opportunity to listen to important...