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Is a Foreign Legal Consultant the Same as Pro Hac Vice Counsel?


Pro hac vice admission grants a non-California lawyer (in good standing) permission to appear before a California court. In essence, admission pro hac vice allows a lawyer to represent clients in the same manner as a California-licensed attorney for purposes of the matter for which (s)he is granted pro hac vice status. An attorney admitted pro hac vice is subject to the authority of the California courts, and the rules of practice that govern California lawyers, and cannot act in a manner that exceeds either those boundaries or the extent of his or her pro hac vice status.

The California Rules of Court also allow for certification of foreign legal consultants–attorneys licensed to practice in a non-California jurisdiction, who are permitted to advise on the law of the jurisdiction in which they are admitted to practice law. However, there are very important differences between certification as a foreign legal consultant and pro hac vice admission.

1.  Foreign Legal Consultants cannot appear before California courts.  

Consultants’ authority is limited to advising of the law of the jurisdiction in which they are admitted to practice law. They do not have permission to appear as attorneys in California courts, arbitration, or other legal proceedings.

2. Foreign Legal Consultants cannot prepare pleadings and instruments in California, represent clients, or advise on California law.

Just as they cannot appear in court, Foreign Legal Consultants cannot engage in the practice of California law–or, in fact, in the practice of law involving any jurisdiction other than the one(s) in which the consultant is licensed to practice.

3. Foreign Legal Consultants can only advise on the law of the jurisdiction where they are admitted.

By contrast, attorneys admitted pro hac vice can practice law in California (but only with regard to the matter(s) for which they have received pro hac vice admission and within the relevant limitations*).

4. Pro hac vice admission is granted by a California court; Foreign Legal Consultants are certified by the California Bar Association.

The method of admission further highlights the difference between pro hac vice admission and Foreign Legal Consultant status. Applications for pro hac vice admission are evaluated (and decided) by an individual court, whereas certification as a Foreign Legal Consultant involves permission from the Bar Association. In the event of any doubt regarding the nature of an attorney’s permission to practice or advise in California, it may be helpful to review where, and by whom, the permission was granted.

*RossLaw serves as the California attorney of record for pro hac vice admissions in appropriate cases and circumstances. Please feel free to contact our office for more details.


Disclaimer: THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY, AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE AUTHOR OR ROSS LAW AND ANY PERSON. Your legal rights and experiences may vary. Never use an online article (including this one) to evaluate your legal rights or claims. Consult an experienced attorney promptly to obtain a personalized evaluation of your claims, potential damages, and the various legal rights and options available to you.

You may lose or compromise your rights if you delay in consulting legal counsel. Most legal claims (and defenses), as well as legal and court procedures, are complicated and fact-dependent. If you believe you have a claim against someone who injured you, a lawyer who represented you in a previous lawsuit, or any other legal claim, consult an experienced lawyer immediately for an evaluation of your individual rights and claims.

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