The increasingly international reach of law owes part of its momentum to individual lawyers and law firms that function as carriers of ideas, processes and policies. U.S. lawyers are important participants in this expanding influence of law, as they educate, train and deploy individuals educated and licensed in the U.S. and abroad. This article examines the ways in which law firms internationalize, and considers the regulatory environment governing crucial interactions between U.S. and foreign-educated lawyers. It builds upon prior work that investigated the impact on U.S. law firms of the development of an international market for legal services and the roles of foreign lawyers in the U.S. Regulation of the interaction between foreign and U.S. lawyers shapes the ways in which U.S. firms participate in the developing international market for legal services; it may well determine the placement and extent of that participation through U.S.-based activities. The article examines regulation of non-U.S. lawyers in state bar admission and foreign legal consultant rules, analyzes these rules and compares them to an ideal regulatory regime. It also reports on data illustrating the ways in which the regulatory status of foreign legal consultant is used by non-U.S. lawyers. The foreign legal consultant title has been adopted for use apart from the licensed status, which results in confusion. The article combines an empirical and theoretical approach, and proposes a new regulatory overlay for international law firms and lawyers.

Date of this Version

May 2003