Marcos Ramirez is on an international mission.
He came to the United States in 2007 with a law degree from the Universidad de los Andes in Merida, Venezuela. He also had a postgraduate diploma — roughly equivalent to a certificate here. He was ready to practice law.
Or so he thought. When he learned he had to get another law degree and pass the bar to practice, he dutifully earned a Master in Law and a JD at Mitchell Hamline. He also began researching what was required to practice in other states than Minnesota. Discovering that the requirements were all over the map, “I thought, ‘That doesn’t make any sense!’” Ramirez says.
Today, Ramirez is a member of the Minnesota and Washington, D.C., bars. His law firm, Nexum Legal, helps individual clients with visas, green cards, and other immigration matters, and small business clients with civil litigation. Rather than by the hour, Ramirez bills by the service; by unbundling services and charging flat or sliding-scale fees, he hopes to make his services more accessible and help reduce the justice gap.
Meanwhile, Ramirez has worked for years to convince Minnesota’s legal community to allow foreign-trained lawyers with a Master in Law or LLM to sit for the Minnesota bar exam. That has meant plenty of speaking, such as in CLE sessions. Late last year, Ramirez and a colleague presented on the topic to the Board of Law Examiners.
“Here in Minnesota, we are always telling everybody that we’re open and welcoming,” he says. “Well, let’s put that into practice.”
The move makes sense for Minnesota, Ramirez says; it would benefit companies, law schools, underrepresented communities, and law firms, which would have access to more internationally trained talent.
“The more diverse a law firm is, the more competitive they are,” he says.
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