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Nationwide

Nationwide Legal Representation: How Our Firm Serves Clients in the U.S. Where Our Attorneys are Not Licensed

We sometimes handle personal injury cases across the United States. Each state requires attorneys to be licensed to practice law within their borders. If an attorney is not licensed to practice law in a state, but does so, this may be considered the unlicensed practice of law, subject to various consequences.

Our attorneys are licensed in Washington D.C., New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, and New Hampshire only. Although not licensed in other states, we sometimes represent people in other states by adhering to local rules and practice. We write this to explain how that works, and to share how doing so has helped us become better lawyers.

Nationwide Practice with Local Expertise

In states outside our direct licensure, we navigate the complexities of national legal practice through two primary methods: direct filings in consolidated complex actions, such as mass torts; and the application of pro hac vice admissions. This allows us to extend our reach without compromising on the quality of representation. Some examples follow.

Sometimes a client resides in one state, but the tort – the action or omission that caused their injury – occurred in another state, one in which we’re licensed. Since the lawsuit would be filed in the state where we are licensed, we can handle those cases. Many times an attorney in the client’s “home state” will bring us in to litigate in the state where the tort happened.

Other times, there are thousands of people injured by a defendant and cases are consolidated before one court. For example, a medical device fails and injures thousands of people in the 50 states. Lawyers file lawsuits in these various states. Through a specific process, these cases are consolidated before one federal court (the term associated with this is generally, MDL). That Court implements procedures to allow attorneys licensed outside of its jurisdiction to litigate cases there.

In other cases, we take a case and work together with a lawyer within a state in which we’re not licensed, or we simply connect that local lawyer with the client in the state in which we are not licensed.

The bottom line is that even if we are not licensed in a client’s state, we may be able to help. In doing so, we endeavor to follow local rules regarding the practice of law to avoid the unlicensed practice of law. We respect those rules because they’re designed to protect the people we care about, clients. This requires a case-by-case or litigation-by-litigation analysis.

Understanding Pro Hac Vice

One of the ways we can work on cases in states outside those in which our attorneys are licensed is through a process called, pro hac vice.

Pro hac vice, a Latin term meaning “for this occasion,” is a legal practice that allows an attorney who is not licensed in a specific state to represent a client in that state’s court system for a particular case. This application is subject to approval by the Court. It typically requires association with a locally licensed attorney. This process ensures that all legal representations meet the specific requirements and legal standards of the jurisdiction in which the case is tried.

In such situations, the firm handling the case is often called, lead counsel, and we refer to the local firm as, local counsel. Not too creative, but an important distinction. We have served in both capacities.

Years of Experience in Diverse Legal Environments

Our firm has years of collective experience handling pro hac vice admissions across various states. This allows us to bring our experience to many clients. Our attorneys have probably practiced in most states by this point, through MDLs or via Pro Hac Vice. Again, that does not mean we’re licensed to practice there, that we think we know it all everywhere, or that we do not respect the Rules concerning the practice of law. Rather, this is meant to be informative for clients we represent who may be outside our states of licensure. And of course, many firms do this. It is a common practice in mass torts, for example.

Another reason we mention this is because this extensive experience has equipped us with a deep understanding of different judicial landscapes, including local rules, practices, and the nuances of regional juries, judges, and opposing counsel. It is one of the ways we have honed our skills and experience as attorneys because we have been blessed with the opportunity to learn from incredible attorneys and Judges across the country.

Collaborating with Local Counsel

To enhance our service delivery and uphold local legal practices, we may collaborate with local attorneys in each state when we must. This partnership helps us grasp the subtle local nuances and ensure our clients receive quality representation. Whether it’s navigating local procedural nuances or engaging with local judicial authorities, our combined efforts are designed to offer superior legal support tailored to the specific needs of our clients. This is not required in every case, but it is part of the analysis when we evaluate cases. Sometimes we elect to not be lead counsel and defer to the local counsel.

Referrals and Networking

Beyond our direct legal services, we also engage a robust network. We partner with attorneys across other states. We refer cases to them when we determine we are not in the best position to handle the case or when it serves the interests of our clients. We may share fees and remain jointly responsible in such situations, although the other firm takes the lead and handles the majority of the case. This collaborative approach broadens our service capability and enriches our firm with diverse legal perspectives, expertise, and experience.

Comprehensive Legal Representation

At KBDA, we are committed to providing top-tier personal injury legal services. That comes in many forms. Whether directly through our licensed attorneys or via our nationwide network of trusted legal partners, we strive to ensure that your case is handled with professionalism and the tailored attention it deserves. We don’t always get it right, so we appreciate constructive criticism and we learn and grow from it.

So that’s a little bit about how this works. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact us today to learn more about how we can help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case, regardless of where it happened. Our team is ready to bring their vast experience and resources to support you through every step of the legal process.