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International Legal Consultants

Iowa offers “foreign legal consultant licensure” to non-US attorneys who have been a member in good standing of a recognized legal profession in another country and intend to render legal services in Iowa or advise Iowa clients on the laws of that country. 

What are the basic requirements to be licensed as a foreign legal consultant?

  • Applicants must have been a member in good standing of a recognized legal profession in a country other than the United States.

  • The members of that legal profession must be subject to effective regulation and discipline by a duly constituted professional body or public authority.

  • Applicants must have been lawfully practicing law for at least five years in the non-US country or elsewhere, with such practice substantially relating to the rendering of advice or provision of legal services concerning the law of the non-US country.

  • Applicant must be of good moral character and fit to practice law.

  • Applicant must intend to practice as a foreign legal consultant in Iowa and maintain an office for that purpose in this state.

What is the fee for applying for a foreign legal consultant license?

The applicant must pay the current investigative fee directly to the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) at the time the application is filed. The applicant must also pay an administrative fee of $800 to the Office of Professional Regulation at the time the application is filed with NCBE.

What is the filing process? 

  1. Check to see that you meet all eligibility requirements listed in Iowa Court Rule 31.18. 

  2. Send the (1) certificate regarding admission, good standing, and discipline required by court rule 31.18(2)(a), (2) letter of recommendation required by court rule 31.18(2)(b), (3) duly authenticated English translations of the certificate and letter of recommendation if they are not already in English, (4) documentation establishing compliance with U.S. immigration laws, and (5) the $500 administrative fee to the address below:

    Daniel Saar

    Office of Professional Regulation 

    Judicial Branch Building, Second Floor 

    1111 East Court Avenue 

    Des Moines, Iowa 50319 

    NOTE: The certificate, letter of recommendation, and immigration documentation do not have to be filed at the time the application is filed and fee is paid. However, if they are not filed within two or three months after the application is filed, they may delay consideration of your application. 

  3. Complete the NCBE Character and Fitness Investigation (Opens in New Window) and file it with the National Conference of Bar Examiners. From this link, applicants click on Create Account, click to agree with the user agreement, and then choose Iowa from the list of jurisdictions. Pay the current investigative fee to the National Conference of Bar Examiners at the time the electronic application is filed. Do not send a copy of the application to the Office of Professional Regulation. 

    NOTE: Applications must be completed online. The filing fee should be sent to the Office of Professional Regulation contemporaneously with the online filing of the application with the National Conference of Bar Examiners. 

  4. Please remember that you have a continuing duty to update your application. Updates must be filed with the Office of Professional Regulation and the National Conference of Bar Examiners. Any failure to promptly update an aspect of your application may result in denial of the application or disciplinary sanctions. 

Are foreign legal consultants considered to be admitted to the bar of Iowa?

No. A foreign or international legal consultant cannot hold himself or herself out as a member of the bar of this state. The foreign legal consultant also cannot render legal advice on the laws of Iowa or the United States of America. Further significant limitations on the foreign legal consultant’s practice are set forth in rule 31.18(3). However, the foreign legal consultant may be affiliated with members of the bar of this state, including being a partner or a shareholder of a business entity with Iowa lawyers.

Are foreign legal consultants subject to discipline?

Yes.  The foreign legal consultant is subject to the jurisdiction of the Iowa Supreme Court and the Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board and must comply with the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct and applicable Iowa court rules.

Are foreign legal consultants subject to client security obligations?

Yes. The foreign legal consultant upon licensure must pay a $200 registration fee to the client security commission and must file annual client security statements and pay the annual disciplinary fee.

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