How to Become an International Lawyer


International law focuses on laws coming from agreements between nations that may be either explicitly written agreements or implicitly agreed upon values (such as moral code against killing.)

One type of international law is "public international law" which relates to the United Nations and international criminal law. Groups such as Human Rights Watch also fall under public international law as it relates to the Geneva Convention. Private international law relates to laws heard in foreign nations and how those laws apply.

  • Major in international relations, pre-law, or political science as an undergraduate student. While in school take global studies and international focused classes. If there is a particular region of the world where you want to work, study that language.

  • Attend a top law school. The nationally recognized top law schools in the United States include Yale, Harvard, Stanford, and University of Michigan. Go to the best law school that you can get into and study international law.

  • Earn good grades in law school. A good GPA's in law school is 3.5 or higher as this allows you to graduate "cum laude" while a 3.8 to 4.0 is "summa cum laude." Good grades allow you to get better associate positions and ultimately into an international law practice.

  • Study abroad through your law school. If your law school offers study abroad programs, attend one during your second or third year of law school. A list of law school study abroad programs can be found in the Resources section.

  • Become a summer associate between your second and third year of law school at a law firm specializing in international law. Examples of law firms specializing in international law include Hogan & Hartson and Latham & Watkins.

  • Take and pass the Bar exam. You need to pass the bar exam (in any state) to become an international lawyer. A Bar exam study site can be found in the Resource section.

  • Join a law firm with an international law focus. Examples of international law firms include Hogan & Hartson and Latham & Watkins.

  • Volunteer with the American Bar Association to work abroad. A list of programs can be found in the Resources section.

Tips & Warnings

  • Becoming an international lawyer takes a lot of work and international law is a competitive field.

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