Pilot project eases way for English to practice in US

US LAWYERS have agreed to a New York pilot project to make it easier for English lawyers to practice in the US.

The agreement was forged between the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Law Society at a pre-arranged private meeting at Orlando, Florida, during the convention.

At the meeting, ABA executive director Robert Stein and other senior ABA executives responsible for lawyers' education, agreed to an experiment in New York in which rules allowing English lawyers to practice New York state law would be liberalised.

Currently, although US lawyers simply have to take a transfer test to practice as solicitors in England, English and Welsh solicitors have to go back to law school if they want to practice in the US. US lawyers who move from state to state face the same problem, since each state has its own laws.

The pilot program would involve a simple transfer test, relieving English and Welsh lawyers from having to return to school in the US to study US law.

Law Society head of international Jonathan Goldsmith said: “The outcome was good. There is going to be an experiment in New York to try and build as liberal a regime as possible, in terms of re-qualification and establishment rights.”

He said that the hope was that when other states saw that “the world hadn't ended” because of it, they too would liberalise their rules.

The move is not a top priority for the ABA. Newly-elected president, Lee Cooper, obviously unaware of the discussions of his chief executive, told The Lawyer: “There's nothing the ABA can do to change the situation. Each state has its own laws and it's up to them. Foreign lawyers can apply on an individual basis to appear in a particular state court, provided the client wants that. US lawyers have the same difficulty when they want to work in a different state.”