Many students identify that they are interested in pursuing a career in International Law. But what exactly does that mean or look like? The definition of International Law is expansive, but for career exploration purposes you can break it down generally into two categories: "public" and "private". It can mean working in the public sector (domestically or abroad) on legal work that is international in scope. It can also mean working in the private sector representing international clients or in an office based outside of the United States. For those students interested in the former, we will use the term "Public International Law" in providing career guidance. And for those students interested in the latter, we refer you to the portions of the website tailored to private practice. The good news is that no one career path exits for students interested in either "public" or "private" International Law. Indeed, we encourage you to explore all avenues as you prepare for a Global Practice.
Public International Law is traditionally defined as the law between sovereign nation-states, especially within the context of the laws of war, peace, and security and protection of territories. However, it has expanded to include a more diverse group of subjects and activities, development, individuals and international organizations.
The practice of Public International Law involves a wide range of activities requiring a variety of skills. It may include human rights work, providing humanitarian aid, clerking for an international court or tribunal, working for a regional organization, advocating for local communities, building up rule of law mechanisms, drafting legislation, assisting refugee and migrant populations, implementing sustainable development goals, advising on trade policy, et at.
While pursing opportunities in this field is exciting, it can also be overwhelming. Below you will find some information and reference resources to get you started. We strongly recommend making an appointment with an OCP counselor to help you craft your own individual search.
The Federal Government - There are a wide number of opportunities to practice public international law within the US government. Some examples include:
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