Washington Lawyer - August 2017 - 24

other routes under Rule 46; (2) by revising the list of
subjects that must be studied into specific courses,
while also allowing for electives; (3) and by allowing
any amount of the additional credits to be earned
through distance learning that the law school
certifies as complying with ABA distance education

Darrell G. Mottley
With that in mind, the D.C. Bar Board of Governors
established the Global Legal Practice Task Force in
the fall of 2014 to explore issues arising from the
globalization of legal practice. The 20-member task
force is chaired by Darrell G. Mottley, principal shareholder at Banner & Witcoff, Ltd. and D.C. Bar president from 2011 to 2012. The Board of Governors
directed the Task Force to study and make recommendations about a number issues resulting from
globalization that have a significant impact on the
legal profession in the District of Columbia, the
United States, and the world at large.

"[The District of Columbia] is a very welcoming
place for foreign-educated lawyers," says Geoffrey
Klineberg, who oversaw the Task Force's work on
"inbound foreign lawyers" and is a partner at
Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick, P.L.L.C.
"The question is, can we do more and be even
more of a leader and a magnet, frankly, for foreigneducated lawyers who are interested in working
here? I think we can and should."
The Task Force's proposal is the product of phase
two of its work. Last year, the Board approved the
Task Force's first round of recommendations for
"outbound" D.C. Bar members, proposing the
expansion of networking opportunities here and
abroad as well as increased professional development offerings around the practice of international
and transnational law. D.C. Bar members practice
in 83 countries, and some 1,500 of the Bar's nearly
105,000 members live and work abroad.

Among the issues the Task Force examined is the
admission of foreign-educated attorneys to the
D.C. Bar, which is the focus of this article.

In June 2017 the Task Force released for public
comment a set of draft recommendations to
introduce innovative changes to the D.C. Court
of Appeals rule about bar admission of foreigneducated attorneys. This latest proposal recommends notable revisions to Rule 46, which governs
the admission of lawyers to practice in the District
of Columbia.
"We need to keep up with the times," says
Annamaria Steward, past president of the D.C. Bar
and associate dean of students at the University of
the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of
Law. "The Global Legal Practice Task Force's recommendations reflect the importance of having more
flexibility in admissions to bring talented lawyers
educated in other countries to the United States
and to the D.C. Bar. We want them as members.
These are people who are a natural fit for us."
The Task Force recommends changes to the admissions criteria for foreign-educated individuals,
including those who graduated from law schools
not accredited by the American Bar Association,
in three key ways: (1) By reducing the number of
additional academic credit hours required from an
ABA-accredited law school for individuals to take
the bar exam or to become admitted by one of the

Annamaria Steward
Currently, foreign-educated lawyers and graduates
of non-ABA-accredited law schools can qualify
to take the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) in the
District, provided they have completed at least 26
semester hours of study on the subjects tested on
the UBE in an ABA-approved law school. Foreigneducated lawyers and graduates of non-ABAaccredited law schools also must meet this criteria
if they seek admission by transfer of a UBE score to
the District, or admission based on their admission
to another U.S. jurisdiction and a qualifying
Multistate Bar Examination score.
Under existing Rule 46, a foreign-educated attorney
who has been a member in good standing of a U.S.
jurisdiction for at least five years may be admitted on
motion to the District of Columbia - neither additional education nor a degree from an ABA-accredited
law school is required. The Task Force did not propose
any changes to this part of the admissions rule.

This page: Darrell G. Mottley, D.C. Bar file photo; Annamaria Steward, Patrice Gilbert Photography.
Opposite page: Geoffrey M. Klineberg, Patrice Gilbert Photography

Along with the District of Columbia, a total of 36
U.S. jurisdictions allow foreign-educated lawyers
to become members of their bar through various
eligibility and admissions rules. The most visible
of the states is New York, which tests more foreigneducated applicants than any other U.S. jurisdiction:
an average of over 4,600 individuals annually
between 2010 and 2016.
"I don't think we'll ever compete with New York
in terms of the financial industry and the foreign
lawyers who need to practice in New York for that
reason," says Klineberg. "The kinds of law we do
here in [the District] are unique in some ways and
different from any other part of the country. We
do see ourselves as having a special obligation in
that respect."

The Global Legal Practice Task Force is recommending that the requirement in Rule 46 - that
graduates from non-ABA-accredited law schools and
foreign-educated individuals take at least 26 credit
hours of additional education - be reduced to 24
credit hours. Many other jurisdictions require some
other amount of additional legal education. Nine,
including New York, require 24 credit hours for at
least some foreign-educated applicants. The reduction in credit hours can translate into the ability of
foreign-educated lawyers to complete their additional education in the equivalent of one academic
year. By contrast, the existing requirement of 26
credit hours has proved an impediment to some
foreign-educated individuals who seek admission in
the District because of the added expense required
to complete the additional coursework.
"What we're identifying are areas where there are
inconsistencies in our approach, where someone
could qualify in one jurisdiction but cannot qualify
in ours," says Mottley. "We were looking for ways
to harmonize our rules a bit better to see if we can
improve things in D.C."
A second recommended rule change would revise
the types of courses that foreign-educated lawyers
would need to complete to qualify for admission.
The change would allow foreign lawyers to fulfill
half of their 24-credit hour requirement by taking
specific subjects, including courses in U.S. constitutional law; civil procedure; professional responsibility; U.S. legal institutions; and legal research,
analysis, and writing. The other half would be filled
by electives of the applicant's choice.
The third rule change recommendation is a farreaching modification. If adopted, the District of
Columbia would be the first jurisdiction in the
nation to specifically allow the use of distance education to complete the additional coursework from
an ABA-accredited law school, provided the law
school certifies that its distance education methods
comply with ABA education standards.

http://www.dcbar.org/about-the-bar/news/global-legal-practice-task-force-2017-report-recommendations.cfm http://www.dcbar.org/about-the-bar/news/global-legal-practice-task-force-2017-report-recommendations.cfm

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