An international lawyer may practice in the areas of business law, securities law, entertainment law, employment law, or contract law, among others. The path to become an international lawyer will vary, as the requirements to practice law will depend on each country's specific requirements. In the United States, an international lawyer must first complete a rigorous course of study after which he or she must become licensed to practice law. The last step needed to become an international lawyer is to gain experience practicing law with a firm that handles international clients and transactions.
As a rule, anyone who aspires to become an international lawyer must first complete a bachelor's degree. There is no specific major required for the undergraduate degree; however, political science, international relations, or a foreign language would be excellent choices for anyone wishing to enter the international law arena. An undergraduate student should also take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad if offered.
After completing undergraduate study, the next step to become an international lawyer is to spend three years studying at an accredited law school culminating in the receipt of a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree. A law student will complete basic requirements in order to graduate; however, a student planning to become an international lawyer should take additional classes in international law when offered. While in law school, a student should also take advantage of any study abroad programs or internships with international law firms or overseas courts.
In most countries, including the United States, a prospective lawyer must also pass an examination after completion of law school in order to finally become licensed. Within the United States, there is no specific designation for a lawyer who wishes to practice international law. A licensed attorney may choose to practice in any area he or she wishes. Many lawyers who focus on international law choose to pursue licensing in more than one country.
Once licensed, the final step necessary to become an international lawyer is to gain experience working for a law firm that focuses on international law or international clients. International lawyers are needed by corporations that have operations worldwide, by companies that do a significant amount of import-export business, and by clients in the entertainment industry. Fluency in a second or third language can put an aspiring international lawyer in a better position to obtain a job, as those skills may be needed for offices abroad.