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International law courses - What to expect

International Law career options are as varied those in domestic law. International law practitioners work with private law firms and corporate general counsel’s offices

Diya Paul
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An International Law course pursued abroad opens career avenues such as working with the UN and organizations involved in the legal and diplomatic relations between nation states.

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As more and more companies and organizations are going multinational with numerous mergers and acquisitions taking place, lawyers with detailed knowledge of international laws and treaties are in demand. Such lawyers play a big role in helping companies and individuals put together business deals and contracts that extend across nations. Now all of a sudden, you have not just big companies, but medium-sized and small firms conducting global transactions, which require the services of corporate lawyers with knowledge of international law. Law firms across the globe have woken up to this trend and hence, now offer specializations international law among their list of services.

In today’s dynamic global scenario, governments and various human rights organisations recognize the importance of having someone on board, who brings with him extensive knowledge about international laws. The shipping industry also requires lawyers, specializing in the field. Legal systems vary from nation to nation. Hence, lawyers who international law practitioners need to work hard at sorting through the legal and cultural differences, which arise from working with foreign clients.

To make a mark in an international law career you need to be equipped with analytical, research and writing skills, and knowledge of the differences in the world’s legal systems, including their political and cultural contexts. In addition, employers look favourably upon individuals who are proficient in at least one other language and have overseas work experience.  The most common foreign languages required by organizations are Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish.

International Law career options are as varied those in domestic law. International law practitioners work with private law firms and corporate general counsel’s offices on international business transactions, arbitrations and intellectual property matters. Others document human rights violations for non-governmental organizations, advise on trade law and policy, organize humanitarian assistance for refugees or internally displaced persons, advocate at international tribunals, petition courts to grant asylum, and lobby international bodies for pressurizing governments to not impose the death penalty.

For developing a productive international law career, you can begin by looking beyond the main body of the United Nations and accumulating relevant experience before making the big jump - Consider other international organizations and the smaller agencies within the UN, all of which do interesting work in a variety of fields and might give you the chance to do more hands-on work than the UN Secretariat or other major UN organs. Working with an NGO is also a good way to build relationships with international organizations, observe their work and decide whether you want to pursue a certain route in the future. You can also consider working with small, medium and multinational firms in areas such as intellectual property and trade law.

What does a typical international law program teach?

An international law program teaches you about the regulation of global markets, bodies and governments, based on a grounded understanding of current international affairs.  A typical international course of study incorporates classroom teaching, seminars, experiential learning, Moot Court and special events, which allow you to interact and network with esteemed faculty, international attorneys, diplomats, business leaders and policy makers.

In most international law programmes, you will experience real world law scenarios, and have the opportunity to get acquainted with future organizations you will be working for at national and international levels. During the tenure of your studies, you will have one foot in school and the other foot in the world of professional practice. Qualified and internationally oriented lecturers from all over the world will help you succeed in the field of law – this enables you to excel and push yourself further.

International Law courses examine the rules and principles that govern the relations and transactions between nations.  They allow you to explore the primary sources of international law, including customary law and conventional law, as well as, treaties. You can explore a wide range of international law related areas such as international business law, international trade law and international taxation, along with mainstream topics relating to public international law – Specializations such as Children’s Rights, International Criminal Law, International Environmental Law, Law of Diplomatic Relations, Prisoners’ Rights, War, Law and Morality, Gender and Law, International Business Law, International Commercial Arbitration, Free Trade Agreements and Regional Integration, and International and Comparative Protection of Intellectual Property, are available.

A sound understanding of international law and human rights, together with advanced research, analytical and writing skills, are some of the skill sets earned through an International Law course. As your course progresses, it encourages an appreciation of the relevance of rules and principles in the International Legal environment, particularly in light of the contemporary developments in the world arena.

An International Law course pursued abroad opens career avenues such as working with the UN, and organizations involved in the legal and diplomatic relations between nation states. For a successful career in international law, you need to display two important traits: cultural curiosity and open-mindedness to understand and appreciate the differences between various cultures and legal systems. If you possess these qualities, pursuing an International Law course - Master of Laws (LLM) or a Juris Doctor (JD) - and a career in the same field will be a positive and production journey.

On Hotcourses India, you can find a list of leading educational institutes - from countries such as the US, UK and Australia - which provide International Law courses. 

Worried about choosing the right course?

Nupur Verma Nupur Verma,
Study abroad expert.
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