A key jurisdiction in the US could relax rules to allow foreign lawyers to register as in-house counsel.

The New York State Unified Court System is proposing to amend part 522 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals.

The amendment would allow the appellate division to register as in-house counsel an applicant ‘who is a member in good standing of a recognised legal profession in a foreign jurisdiction’, a memorandum from the state court system says.

The applicant must be ‘admitted to practise as lawyers or counselors at law or the equivalent and subject to effective regulation by a duly considered professional body or a public authority’.

At present, attorneys who are not admitted to the New York bar, but are employed full-time in the US state as in-house counsel by a corporation, partnership, association or other legal entity not itself engaged in the practice of law, can register. But this does not apply to attorneys registered outside the US.

So far 15 jurisdictions have adopted rules recognising foreign in-house counsel.

The Conference of Chief Justices and the American Bar Association have recommended that states amend their rules governing registration to allow foreign lawyers to register, the memo says.

Should foreign lawyers be allowed to register as in-house counsel, they would have to remain ‘active members in good standing’ of a recognised legal profession in a foreign jurisdiction, notify the appellate division of any disciplinary issues in another jurisdiction and comply with the laws and rules governing attorneys admitted to practising law in New York.