Scope of License

Few states actually issue a “license” to practice law per se; generally the attorney receives a formal frame-worthy certificate evidencing admission, the display of which is often required by several states.

Lawyers are only permitted to practice law in a state where they have been formally admitted. Obtaining license to practice accords each lawyer with all rights to perform all duties associated with the profession. These include counseling persons in legal matters; representing persons in a court of law, before an administrative tribunal, or in legal controversies; advocating persons’ rights or legal positions in a legal controversy; preparing and drafting legal documents; and negotiating on behalf of other persons.

A license to practice law within a state refers to practice within the state courts. Federal trial courts generally premise their admissions on the policies of the state in which they are located. Other U.S. federal courts, particularly appellate courts, have open admissions policies, allowing attorneys to argue cases before them if they are licensed anywhere in the country.


Inside Scope of License