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Can I Hire an Attorney in a Different State Than Where I Reside/Accident Happened?

Posted in Personal Injury on September 15, 2016

Accidents can happen at any time and in any place. When one occurs in a different state than where you reside, it can complicate the claims process. The laws may be different than in your state, and you may want to hire an attorney who holds a license in the state where you are addressing the legal issue.

Protocol for Interstate Legal Problems

Jurisdiction laws typically require that you file a case in the state where the accident occurred. However, it is common for plaintiffs to want to hire a lawyer from their home state. In general, an attorney must have admittance to the state bar in the state in which he or she wishes to represent a client. This is true for any kind of case, whether you need an attorney to represent you in a personal injury suit or a real estate transaction. If you need an attorney to represent you in the state in which an accident happened, the attorney must have a license in that particular state. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. If you would prefer to use an attorney from your home state with whom you have worked before in a different state, find out if that state will grant your attorney a limited law license. States will grant this request in some situations, usually for public defenders or legal aid services. The attorney must have a license to practice law in another state for this option. Some states also allow an in-house counsel exception, in which a corporation hires an out-of-state attorney to represent them as in-house counsel. In some cases, the state will allow an attorney from out of state to represent a client “for this one case,” or “pro hac vice.” The attorney must petition the court to represent the client and must have a license in another state. It is up to the court’s discretion whether to grant the petition, grant it with conditions, or deny the petition. A condition may be that the attorney must work with in-state counsel, for example. Pro hac vice is only a good option if the attorney is familiar with local and state laws. An attorney can obtain state licensure without taking the bar exam in certain situations. If an attorney has practiced law in another state for a certain number of years, some states will grant faster admission to the bar. This is called reciprocity.

Should You Hire an Out-of-State Attorney?

Deciding whether to try to bring an out-of-state attorney to your case or to hire an attorney in an unfamiliar state depends greatly on the circumstances of your case. If you are the defendant in a case, for example, your insurance company will likely provide you with a personal injury lawyer. In this case, you would not have to worry about hiring an attorney at all. Since most personal injury cases get settled outside of court without litigation, your attorney only needs to be competent and knowledgeable enough to skillfully handle negotiations. If you are the plaintiff, on the other hand, the state in which your personal injury attorney holds a license matters more. If you believe your case will go to court instead of reaching a settlement, it is wise to hire a personal injury attorney who lives near you. This makes it easier to communicate with them regularly about your case’s progress and work with them face-to-face. However, it is crucial that you hire an attorney with the proper skill set and expertise to obtain the best outcome for your case. An out-of-state attorney may not have as deep a grasp of the state laws as a local attorney. Ask your desired attorney if petitioning the court to practice law in a different state is the best option for your case.