Globalization has opened up new career avenues for aspiring attorneys. One such option is to become an international lawyer preferably at a global law firm. Cross-border trade has been increasing at a rapid pace leading to economies becoming more and more interdependent on each other. Many enterprises are running operations in multiple jurisdictions and need legal assistance to understand and plan their liabilities. Even some governments are looking to cultivate an international lawyers network to get help in a range of areas like international trade, environment, disputes, and crime. Apart from businesses and governments, non-profits also look for attorneys with knowledge of legal regulations of different countries. This helps them in carrying out their work in accordance with the relevant laws of a specific location. Building a career as an international attorney or starting a law firm in the practice area requires some planning and forethought. Let’s see how you can become a successful professional in this domain.
What Is The Definition Of An International Lawyer?
International law is the collection of rules, standards, treaties, and agreements that govern relations between sovereign states. These regulations help in creating a mechanism that nations can use for handling matters related to trade, diplomacy, disputes, human rights, the use of common resources like water, international crimes, etc. An international lawyer is someone who focuses on this practice area. However, the definition of the professional cannot be restricted only to the legal framework being used by states to handle their relations. A US-based attorney advising a European manufacturer on acquiring a business in the US will also fall into this category. The professional will need to know the relevant laws of both jurisdictions and provide advice accordingly. It can be said that an international legal practitioner is someone who guides clients who have interests (business or otherwise) in multiple jurisdictions.
How To Become An International Lawyer?
It goes without saying that to become an international lawyer, you need to first become a qualified attorney. However, if you are still in law school and are thinking of making a career in the field by joining a global firm, then you can use the following tips to chart your path.
1. Take Comparative International Law Classes
Most reputed law schools offer a comparative international law class to students. In case, your institution provides this facility, use the opportunity to understand the topic. These classes will help you understand the different kinds of legal frameworks and infrastructures that are in operation around the world. It will also help in getting a basic knowledge of the rules and regulations which are used to manage international matters. This will lay down the foundation for your future as an attorney in this specific practice area.
2. Gain Practical Experience By Joining An Appropriate Firm
It can be difficult for a fresh law graduate to immediately get a place in a top global firm. However, you can look to join a firm that will prepare you for the road ahead. Look for an agency that specializes in cross-border business transactions. You can also join a firm that handles complex transactions like mergers and acquisitions. This will allow you to get some valuable practical experience of matters related to international law. Even if you are not able to find such firms, you can look for agencies that help foreign businesses in making local investments. This will also provide you the much-needed exposure.
3. Specialize In A Specific Practice Area
The ambit of international law is vast and it can be difficult to gain mastery over all aspects at once. It will be pertinent to specialize in a specific practice area and look to establish yourself in that domain. Legal professionals can choose to gain experience in trade laws, human rights, tax regulations, etc. Try to align yourself with your preferred practice field right from the beginning of your career. Make sure that you are aware of the latest developments in the sector. For instance, international trade is affected by the guidelines issued by bodies like the World Trade Organization (WTO). You must make it a point to know any changes made by the body to the operational trade regimes. It will also be pertinent to know about the trends which are affecting your potential clients.
4. Familiarize Yourself With Diverse Cultural Sensitivities
Organizations are run by human beings who are a product of their cultures. The sensitivities and characteristics of each culture are different and lawyers must be aware of the specific ones possessed by their clients. Whenever you deal with an overseas client, make sure you know beforehand what they consider as unacceptable behavior. It will be even better if you could learn their language as it will facilitate a smooth conversation between both sides.
Choosing to become an international lawyer is a good career option but you need to be diligent and persevering to achieve the objective. You must begin preparations when you are in law school and learn additional skills which will be useful in the future.
Jones Smith is a professional legal expert working with InterLegal, a company where you can find international lawyers network and law firms to deal with any legal issues. He is a passionate writer and loves to share legal and business-related tips.