In May 2016, the DC Bar issued the Interim Report of its Global Legal Practice Task Force. In June 2016, the Board of Governors of the DC Bar approved the report’s recommendations. As the DC press release noted, “D.C. Bar members practice in 83 countries, and nearly 1,500 of the Bar’s 101,500 members live and work abroad. Fifty-four percent of the Bar’s domestic members were very or somewhat interested in expanding their international practices within the next five years …with 57 percent of that number indicating that they expect to expand their practices during that time.”
The DC Bar sent separate surveys to bar members located in the US, bar members located outside the US, and Special [Foreign] Legal Consultants. To my knowledge, this is the first survey of its kind, in which bar members were asked demographic data about their practices and qualifications, as well as questions about the ways in which they currently interact with the DC Bar and the services they would like. Anyone who is interested in the globalization of legal practice will find the Interim Report an interesting read.
The DC Bar press release announcing Board approval of the recommendations summarized the Task Force work as follows:
To best achieve its charge, the Task Force divided its study into three areas: examining how best to serve domestic Bar members with international practices and clients, and Bar members who live and work overseas (outbound); studying the rules by which lawyers from foreign countries can be admitted and licensed to practice in the District (inbound); and studying developments in alternative business models being employed by law firms domestically and in other countries. The interim report reflects the recommendations of the outbound subgroup and a recommendation to conduct ongoing study of alternative business structures and multi-disciplinary practice. The Task Force’s work continues on issues about the regulation, admission, and practice of foreign-educated lawyers in the District of Columbia.
The Task Force’s proposals for outbound members fell into three broad categories: connections or networking, resources, and education and professional development.
Highlights of the proposals for short-term implementation recommend that the Bar should:
• Develop networking opportunities with substantive content for smaller groups of domestic Bar members with international legal practices.
• Improve the exchange of information about resources, education, and networking for all members engaged in the practice of cross-border and international law.
• Create varying “expertise” levels of educational programming in international law topics for all members and develop marketing for this programming.
• Develop educational programming about issues in international practice that all members often encounter: multi-country litigation; record keeping; e-discovery training and tools; conflicting legal ethics rules; attorney-client privilege abroad; and data security and privacy.
Highlights of the proposals for long-term implementation recommend that the Bar should:
• Facilitate informal gatherings of its members residing in specific regions of the world where these members commonly live and practice, such as Canada, China, France, and the United Kingdom.
• Facilitate networking between members who reside and practice outside the United States and local business groups.
• Partner with international groups and organizations based in Washington, D.C., for hosting networking events with domestic members with international practices.
• Develop and maintain a list of volunteer “resource attorneys” by international law subject matters or by conducting business in specific regions of the world.