This article contriubtes a new perspective to existing scholarship on internationalization of the legal profession by focusing on the increasing presence of foreign lawyers in U.S. law schools and law firms. It analyzes the interaction between foreign-educated lawyers and the legal profession in the U.S. based upon two sources of information: first, a series of interviews with foreign-educated lawyers and U.S. law firm hiring partners regarding experiences in law school and in firms, and second, a database comprised of biographical information for more than 300 foreign-educated lawyers who were working in New York during 1999 and 2000. The various roles occupied by foreign lawyers in U.S. law schools and law firms are considered, including serving as substitutes for U.S. J.D. graduates and as connections to foreign legal markets. Despite their rhetoric of internationalization, U.S. law firms remain essentially domestic institutions; they have rarely integrated foreign-educated lawyers into their structures in the U.S. However, in order to meet the growing competition from accounting and consulting firms as well as from foreign law firms, U.S. lawyers may need to reconsider their reliance upon this domestic mindset.

Date of this Version

October 2001