Efforts to lure foreign firms to Virginia have brought in more than $1.6 billion in capital investment for the state, according to the state's Department of Economic Development. Foreign firms from 20 countries have more than 330 enterprises in the state and have created 25,000 jobs.

Now, the ecomonic development officials and a McLean law firm have published a guide explaining the state's legal requirement to foreign firms looking to do business in Virginia.

The publication,"Legal Aspects of Doing Business in Virginia for Foreign Businesses," was conceived by John Patterson, a partner with the law firm of McGuire, Woods, Battle & Boothe.

Topics in the 117-page guide include joint ventures, intellectual property rights, immigration laws, import controls, and an overview of industrial development bond financing in Virginia. Only one other state, Illinois, has distributed anything similar, he said.

"Our country has a reputation as being highly regulated," Patterson said. "The courts and lawyers are somewhat frightening, especially if you come from a legal system that is much less structured. One of the biggest problems for foreign firms is the fear of the unknown."

Patterson said that a German lawyer working at his firm on an exchange program was surprised by an intimidating three-inch binder that held the contents of a recently completed major loan. In Germany, the same transaction would fill a binder half that size, the lawyer told Patterson.

About 20 lawyers spent close to 1,200 hours on the project, Patterson said. While the law firm paid for the initial preparation of the guide, the state picked up the tab for the printing costs.

The Department of Economic Development is making the guide available at its offices in Brussels and Tokyo, and to international firms doing business in Virginia.