An incremental move towards a more nationalized licensing process may be an important piece of the puzzle in pairing qualified, passionate attorneys with currently underserved clients who need their help.
This article first found on The Lawyerist was written earlier in the month, but it seemed especially timely to me given that for most of the recently graduated law class, aspiring young lawyers all over the country have just finished taking their bar exams. Except for you crazy kids in California, good luck on your last day!
The truth is that the laws are different from state to state, and just because you're an adequate practitioner in New York doesn't mean that you'll be qualified to practice in Utah. That much is true, and the different laws are the reason that we have different bar exams in the first place. But increasingly, that kind of reasoning just doesn't hold water. Thanks to technology and the advancement of things like the internet (you may have heard of it), the practice of law is easier to spread across geographic regions than ever before. A competent and diligent attorney can research the local state laws and find out how they differ from the home state easily, from literally any connected computer or mobile device. A number of states in recent years have even pushed towards the adoption of the Universal Bar Exam to make things more accurate in attempting to measure incoming lawyers knowledge base.
The truth is, no matter how long you've practiced or what states you've practiced in, if you're doing your job right you should be looking up the law every time. You owe it to your clients to not just fly by memory or routine, but to make sure that you're right. Any attorney who is talented at their job and passionate about their clients will make sure to carefully research and prepare for every issue, every case. If that's what should be done anyway, then the fact that the laws are different in 15 miles away from you across the state line shouldn't pose that large of a problem. Especially if you're being honest and upfront with your clients about your experience in that state and making sure they can make a solid informed decision.
I'll let the rest of the article speak for itself, I'm a big fan of the things Sam does over at The Lawyerist. But I really think in a modern and mobile environment, freeing up lawyers to change markets and to go where they are needed (instead of just the urban centers where the largest concentrations of people are) can only be a good thing for the practice of law.
This is one issue I'm genuinely curious what our supporters think though. If you knew your lawyer mostly practiced in Georgia, but you lived in Tennessee or North Carolina, would that matter to you? Do you care that they might have to do more work to learn the local laws, or are there other factors that are more important to you