*  Are you considering emigrating to the USA through an EB-5 visa or E-2 visa investment visa?

*  Are you looking for legal assistance in buying or selling a property in Florida?

*  Are you seeking to either bring a claim or defend against a claim in the Florida courts?

*  Have you suffered an injury in Florida?

*  Seeking a waiver of inadmissibility further to criminal convictions from the past?

*  Are you looking into obtaining a Florida will?

•  Seeking a spousal (non-fiancee) or other family-based USA permanent immigrant visa?

*  Are you looking for assistance in dealing with US estate tax returns?

*  Looking for assistance in dealing with probate in the Florida courts?

*  Are you trying to avoid probate in Florida through the use of a Florida trust?

Who can UK residents turn to for legal assistance in US matters?

It is not always easy knowing who to turn to for legal assistance in the UK for UK legal matters, never mind when you may need assistance or advice in relation to foreign legal matters.

For UK businesses and individuals who need US legal assistance, it can be difficult knowing where to start.  Who do you go to? How do you find a lawyer who can assist you?  Can I find a solicitor or lawyer in the UK who can assist me with a US legal matter? Do you need to find an American lawyer?  What is the difference between a lawyer and an attorney?

Okay, one thing at a time.  First, in the USA and unlike the situation in the UK, there is only one type of lawyer.  A lawyer in the USA is the same thing as an attorney or as an attorney-at-law. 

Our firm is often contacted by potential clients saying they are looking for a "US lawyer".  Are you aware that there is strictly speaking no such qualification as a "UK lawyer"?  In the United Kingdom, there are three separate court systems being Scotland, Northern Ireland, and  England & Wales. Each has its courts, its own equivalent of the Law Society and/or SRA, and each appoints its own solicitors.  Due to this, an solicitor of England & Wales would not generally be permitted to act as a solicitor when he or she is physically in Northern Ireland, nor could he or she file court pleadings with the courts of Northern Ireland as he or she is not a solicitor in that jurisdiction. It may be that some solicitors may of course have applied to and been added to the lists of more than one jurisdiction.
Turning back to the United States, it has 50 states and additionally a federal system, each with its own courts, own notaries, and each with its own equivalent of an SRA and/or Law Society which maintains a register of those lawyers qualified to act in its courts. So now it may become more clear that, for example, a New York attorney cannot generally provide legal services in a matter which relates to Texas law, or vice versa, etc.  As in the UK, some US lawyers are qualified in more than one jurisdiction (state).

For some areas of US law, it is sufficient to be qualified in any one or more of the US states to be able to offer such legal services to any clients.  This generally relates to matters of federal law such as US immigration, or the preparation of US estate & gift tax returns. In such matters, it is irrelevant what in what state or states the lawyer is qualified.

However, for most areas of US law, only a lawyer qualified to act in a particular jurisdiction may represent clients in the courts of such jurisdiction. A more important point may be that no lawyer's insurance policy would cover advice given to a client where the lawyer was advising as to the law of a jurisdiction or providing services relating to the laws of a state in which he or she is not qualified.

Due to the above, and in order to avoid wasting your time where we may not be able to assist you, one of the first questions we always ask a prospective client is what particular US state does the matter relate to.

Now to return to the earlier questions, can you use a UK solicitor or lawyer? 

If there is both a US and UK element in a particular case, then a UK solicitor or lawyer may be able to assist or advise in relation to the UK element, He or she however cannot generally assist in a US related matter unless he or she is also qualified in the relevant US jurisdiction. As there are in the UK a number of solicitors who have also become qualified in US states such as New York or California, etc., and a number of US attorneys who have become UK solicitors or lawyers, including myself, then it is possible in some cases to use a UK solicitor or attorney.

If you as a UK resident retain a US resident US lawyer you may find that he or she is unable to identify or deal with any arising UK or other international legal or tax elements of your US matter.  Even in what appear to be straightforward matters, you need to take care in relying upon offered solutions which may be appropriate for a US resident or citizen as it is important that any proposed solution take account of unique implications for you as a UK resident or citizen. 

As a UK resident in a US legal matter, you should where possible seek to take both US and UK legal advice so as to protect your interests and know your real options.

American Attorney Services is here in your time zone and should you wish, you can come to our offices in Wrington near Bristol to discuss your US legal matter in detail.

© 2020 by Kevin Michael Burke