International law is practiced everywhere today. The following provide examples of possible pathways to an international law career, whether one is interested in government service, including military service, private legal practice, corporate practice, intergovernmental organization or non-profit work, or opportunities at think tanks, research institutes or in academia.
Government service is an excellent first entryway for a career in international law. Numerous government agencies across the federal government engage in international work. While the most common avenues include Justice, State, Commerce, Labor, US Agency for International Development, Office of U.S. Trade Representation, Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission, in fact many other agencies have international programming that may provide enriching international law career pathways. The following are examples of international law opportunities in several agencies:
The Judge Advocate General Corps provides legal counsel to the U.S. Navy, Army and Air Force divisions of the military. These positions provide an extremely varied legal practice at the start of one’s career and provide excellent opportunities for specialization thereafter, including in a range of international law sub-fields.
The Judge Advocate General’s Corps attorneys are responsible for offering legal support that involves military operations. They primarily focus on the areas of criminal law, legal assistance, civil/administrative law, labor/employment law, international/operational law and contract/fiscal law. JAG lawyers negotiate arms control treaties, review compliance with international humanitarian law in the context of military operations, investigate international accidents, prosecute criminal cases under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, provide legal advice to service members and their families, offer legal reviews, including international legal standards reviews, ethics opinions and advice to commanders, and represent service members at courts-martial.
Duty locations include the continental United States and a variety of other installations overseas.
These positions require service within the military (commitment varies according to military branch) and, accordingly, offer opportunities to travel and live abroad. It is important to check the individual websites for each service for more information and application details:
Many large firms practice have international legal practices, typically focusing on aspects of international business transactions, such as regulatory compliance and tax issues, and have branch offices overseas. Many firms, large and small, address international law as a dimension of their practice. Some, for example, practice international family law as a component of their domestic family law practice. Others practice in the area of securities, regulatory law, customs, anti-boycott, international trade, and food & drug on behalf of foreign or domestic clients. Many firms have pro bono departments or opportunities that pertain to international law (e.g., human rights litigation; refugee and asylum law; international environmental regulation).
Examples of firms with some element of international law practice in the Baltimore/Washington area include:
The international law practice in a corporate law department is similar to that in private firm practice. In addition, lawyers working in a corporate law department may engage in issues that pertain to international labor standards, international environmental laws and regulations, immigration, and international finance.
Examples of corporations headquartered in Maryland which operate abroad include:
Intergovernmental organizations offer ample opportunities to pursue a career in international law. Many IGOs are headquartered or have offices in the United States, and many of these are located in the Baltimore/Washington area:
A representative sampling includes the following:
The work of international non-governmental organizations can offer a wide range of international law career opportunities, including rule of law work in developing countries, electoral law and administration support in emerging democracies, human rights advocacy work, representation of marginalized populations, civil society strengthening in law and policy, health law and environmental regulation, anti-corruption, among others.
Baltimore area international non-profits:
Washington area international non-profits:
International Development Firms
The vast majority of foreign assistance funding to implement rule of law programming in developing countries runs through large international development firms. These firms offer a variety of international law career opportunities both in headquarters and in the field in developing countries worldwide.
A representative sampling of international development firms located in the Baltimore/Washington area include: