Legal Translation and the Blurring Jurisdictional Boundary

Legal translation and legal interpreting services play an important role in the practice of law. A recent series of legal opinions have addressed the trend for lawyers having a “mobile practice” where they tend to practice across and between jurisdictions. In New York, for example, the State Bar Ethics Committee is urging the development of rules for out-of-state lawyers serving as in-house counsel for New York-headquartered companies. A federal district court ruled that a New York law requiring non-resident licensed lawyers to maintain a New York office could give rise to a challenge under the Comity Clause. And in yet another case a California attorney challenged Utah’s admission policy, which requires out-of-state attorneys to hold a law degree from an ABA-accredited school. In the case, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that “a lawyer’s unblemished record can outweigh the educational accreditation requirements”.

So why should an attorney care about these three developments? Because it is demonstrative of a growing trend towards a greater acceptance of mobility of lawyers. his is good news as the real-world practice of law is becoming less and less restricted based on state and national boundaries. It will be interesting to watch this trend develop, particularly in the international corporate setting, where business knows no boundaries. In such a case the role of foreign language translations will become more and more important.

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