Share on facebook

Mexico Attorneys Abogados

About Mexican Attorneys

To do business in Mexico, U.S. businesspeople nearly always need to hire a Mexican attorney. Reciprocity that would allow U.S. licensed attorneys to practice law in Mexico and vice versa is not a part of NAFTA. This is not surprising in view of the significant differences between the two legal systems and their laws. Further, it is helpful to remember that even in the United States, licensing of attorneys is done by the individual states. Thus, most attorneys in the United States take a bar exam and seek admission to practice law in only one state; only a small percentage of U.S. attorneys go through the extensive efforts necessary to become licensed to practice law in two or more states.

U.S. businesses usually use their own U.S. attorneys for matters related to U.S. law and hire Mexican attorneys to work with their U.S. attorneys and to handle legal practice in Mexico. While U.S. attorneys are not allowed to practice law before Mexican courts, they are permitted to register as legal consultants and establish offices in Mexico from which they can advise their clients. Beyond the need for a licensed attorney who is knowledgeable about Mexican law and legal practice, working with Mexican attorneys makes good practical sense. Mexicans place great value on contacts and relationships with people they know and trust as they do business. Thus, working with a Mexican attorney can facilitate business transactions in informal, yet important, ways going beyond legal requirements.

Mexican legal education and licensing are different from those processes in the United States. In Mexico, there are two levels of attorneys. At the first level, a student of law obtains a five-year degree in law. (This is roughly equivalent to the four-year undergraduate programs in the United States.) After passing courses and oral exams at his or her university, the prospective attorney becomes a licenciado and abogado (attorney). (The term licenciado is applied to graduates of various programs of study at that level in Mexico, not just law. Mexican abogados do not take a bar exam such as the exam required of U.S. attorneys in most states.) The abogado can practice law in any part of Mexico. The abogado's powers are limited, however, and many kinds of significant legal transactions, such as transfers of real property, can be handled only by a notario público. Although the words notario público translate literally to "notary public" in English, the notario público is not at all the equivalent of the notary public in the United States. The notario público has received advanced education and training beyond that of an abogado and has been appointed to serve in a specific geographical area within one of Mexico's states. He or she can move to another part of that state or to another state in Mexico only by applying and competing for another opening in that new location.