Local Counsel

While some laws are uniformly enforced throughout the United States, most states also have their own laws which govern only the individuals and corporations living and working within that state. As a result, an attorney who is an expert in the laws of one state, may need help navigating the statutes of another state. This can happen when an attorney is sued or wants to file a lawsuit in another state, or when they are working on a multi-state lawsuit. Our Chicago multi-state lawsuit lawyers understand the complex situations in which these cases often arise.

When a lawsuit reaches multi-state litigation, parties are advised to retain counsel who are knowledgeable in the laws of all of the states involved. As a result, a plaintiff or defendant will often hire local counsel to help navigate the laws and courts of each state, in addition to the attorneys that were originally taken on to file or defend the lawsuit.

Contrary to what some people believe, local counsel can be much more than just a guide in state-specific aspects of the litigation. In some cases, the local counsel may be able to take on primary responsibility for a case. This can benefit an out-of-state or foreign company whose general counsel may not have the litigation experience to handle the business or contract dispute. This can also outside counsel time and money as local counsel is often more familiar with the procedures and requirements of the local jurisdiction. This familiarity with local rules and requirements can often mean the difference between winning or losing a motion, injunction, or case.

As with all attorneys, local counsel are still bound by the applicable Model Rules of Professional conduct which set for the duties that attorneys owe to their clients. The ABA Model Rules serve as the models for the ethics rules implemented in most states and an attorney to act with "reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client." This means that an attorney is not allowed to slack off when acting as local counsel. Rather the Model Rules dictate that the attorneys acting as local counsel and the attorneys acting as lead counsel are all required to treat their clients as worthy of the attorney's best work.

The Rules also require attorneys acting as local counsel to reasonably consult with the clients about the "means by which the client's objectives are to be accomplished" and to "keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter." In other words, a local counsel's paying client is still a paying client and should be treated as such.

On the other hand, the multi-state lawsuit attorneys at our Chicago firm recognize that there is no need for local counsel to duplicate what national counsel has already done or vice versa. Such a practice would be wasteful and not necessarily in the best interest of the client. The Model Rules have taken this into account by allowing local counsel to "limit the scope of the representation if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client gives informed consent." However, not all states allow local counsel to legally limit the scope of their responsibilities.

Alternatively, local counsel may find that they do not want to limit the scope of their responsibilities at the initiation of the relationship if they hope to later be granted more responsibility, in the case, up to and including being made lead counsel.

The Chicago multi-state lawsuit attorneys at DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle have decades of experience acting as local counsel to corporations across the country. Our attorneys also have experience coordinating with general counsel to act as litigation counsel to businesses located in Illinois and around the country. With offices in Oakbrook Terrace and Chicago, Illinois, we are ideally located with close proximity to the Northern District of Illinois federal court as well as the circuit courts of DuPage, Cook, Kane, and Lake counties. To consult with a multi-state lawsuit lawyer in the Chicago area today, you can contact us online or give us a call at 877-990-4990.