International Lawyer: What Do They Do? And How To Become One?

Interlegal Permanent Officer

Interlegal Permanent Officer


A profession in international law may sound extremely appealing and people may envision a life of flying across the world for consultations and academic conferences; nevertheless, it is more involving than that. So what exactly is an international lawyer, and how can one become an international lawyer? 

What Is International Law?

The body of laws, agreements and treaties that apply to all nations respectively are collectively known as international law.

Things considered, there are three domains covered by international law:

1. Conflict of laws, or private international law

Private International Law deals with disputes and transactions between private parties, including corporations and people.

2. Public International Law 

Public International Law governs the relationship between the nations and international bodies.  This pertains to treaty law, the law of the sea, international criminal law, international human rights law, and international commerce law.

3. Supranational Law

Supranational law is a branch of international law that restricts the powers of sovereign nations in their interactions with one another. It also covers regional agreements that allow a nation’s law to be declared invalid when it conflicts with a supranational set of laws. For instance, European Union law is applied directly by Member States of the EU and has its own set of laws.

What Does an International Lawyer Do?

International lawyers provide companies, people, and governmental bodies with legal rights advice and best-case scenario recommendations. In order to fully understand international politics, international law may choose to specialise in intellectual property, security law, or taxation as a global lawyer. A lawyer who specialises in international business provides counsel, argues for, and defends a client’s commercial interests and challenges when they include parties based in two or more jurisdictions. An international business lawyer must hold a valid legal licence. An international lawyer may help their clients with the following issues:

1. Navigating various global contexts and linguistic constraints

An international lawyer deals with clients from several countries and thus must be well versed in the social, and political dynamics of these countries and is also able to communicate to them in a language the clients are comfortable in

2. Examining the case and talking to the consultants

As part of any legal matter/dispute, the lawyers have to analyse the issues of the case. However, being an international lawyer also involves swift coordination with the resource persons from each country. An illustration could be where the purpose is to obtain a license in country XYZ, constant back and forth is required between the concerned governmental bodies and therefore, an international lawyer would require a local consultant in the country XYZ.  

3. International Development

International Development is a vital aspect of international law that entails engaging with emerging regions through government bodies. The fields of international development include trade law, intellectual property law, international health law, and financial aid.

4. Diplomacy

If one wants to travel a lot for work, international law’s field of diplomacy should be taken into consideration. The prerequisites of international law for diplomacy serve more as a recommendation than a legal mandate. These qualifications include mastering at minimum one foreign language and having a strong grasp of the cultural concerns surrounding any nation in which an international lawyer is likely to work.

How To Become an International Lawyer? 

1. During an undergraduate degree programme 

If you are perusing a bachelor’s degree before joining law school, earning the degree in international studies may be advantageous. Students might also think about learning a foreign language. Fluency in a foreign language may be useful while communicating with co-workers or visiting other nations. Learning about local traditions and culture is a common feature of language programmes, and it can be useful for addressing legal issues.

2. During Law School 

Depending on the jurisdiction, law school involves three to five years of full-time study. First-year students finish a programme of classes covering fundamental legal topics like contracts, property, torts, and constitutional law. In their second and third years, students finish elective courses and have the option to take part in clinical or judicial internships. In law school, the study of international law gives students a better base for understanding global issues.

Some universities permit students to focus only on studying international law. These majors offer classes in international sales and trade, foreign politics, comparative law, comparative legal cultures, and multinational business law. One should be well aware of whether they choose to pursue a specialty in international law, taking elective courses in the area can provide you a thorough understanding of the subject and using Papertyper you will have a good essay that will impress your teacher. Advanced international corporate law, international dispute resolution, international legal research, and international children’s rights are a few examples of elective courses.

3. Entering the legal profession 

After passing the bar examination and getting a license, lawyers can be employed by both public and private organisations to practise international law. These businesses frequently demand that lawyers practise not only international law but also other areas of the law. 

4. Option to Pursue an LL.M.

There are certain law schools that provide Master of Laws (LL.M.) degrees to practising practitioners. International law LL.M. programmes frequently concentrate on a particular area of the subject, such as public international law, international commerce, international human rights, or international human rights law. These programmes’ curricula offer in-depth training on the particular area of international law they have been selected for.

Why Become an International Lawyer? 

1. A Global Perspective on the Legal System

A degree in international law teaches students about global legal systems and how they are codified through international treaties and duties, in addition to the essential elements of the local legal system. There are numerous instances. A multi-nation treaty, the Paris Climate Agreement must be ratified and regularly implemented at the state level. Businesses that operate in one nation and then expand to another risk finding the legal environment to be different, and they must understand how this will impact their business strategy. There are also bigger moral dilemmas. How would we implement, say, a global company tax? What is the status of South China Sea maritime activity under international law? The Artic belongs to whom? How should we tackle the Israel and Palestine conflict? There are difficult questions that have no simple answers. Others claim there aren’t any solutions at all. However, it is international lawyers who regularly deal with these issues, test, uphold, and construct the global legal framework/

3. Possibilities for Working and Studying Abroad

International law requires much more travel than other practices of law, whether one works for a multinational corporation or an NGO. Though travel is not a prerequisite to practice this area of law, however it is a bonus. 

International law offers excellent opportunities in working for businesses looking to conduct business abroad or going to places like the UN and working behind the scenes at summits of world leaders for those with a desire to travel, see the world, or who already possess the heritage or language skills of another country and are eager to use them.

4. Job Opportunities with International Companies and NGOs

International law graduate has good opportunities due to their analytical abilities, global perspective, and foundational legal knowledge. International organisations like FIFA and the United Nations, as well as non-profit organisations like Amnesty International, are all places where one can find employment. Other frequent career paths for graduates include working for companies with overseas locations or serving as a government lawyer. Lawyers who specialise in international law are effective policy advisers. They succeed in the post due to their in-depth understanding of the obligations under international treaties and their capacity for “big picture” thinking.

5. Great opportunities for being in high demand 

Due to globalisation, even mid-sized businesses are starting to have offices abroad and invest time in working in various international markets. Smaller companies might frequently require legal counsel who is knowledgeable in international law as the public and commercial sectors become more interconnected across borders.

6. Make a Positive Impact on the World

Saying that international lawyers actually change the world is not a platitude. They will frequently be involved in holding people accountable for violating human rights as well as protecting the weak from some of society’s darker elements, like war crimes and human trafficking.



To sum up, there isn’t a specific definition of an international lawyer, but if there were, it would be someone who handles cases involving clients, deals, and conflicts that span multiple jurisdictions. The demand for lawyers with international experience is constantly increasing in this age of globalisation. In contrast, a career in international law provides a means to stand out from the crowd in a field where there are so many lawyers. In the end, it refers to expanding your horizons and improving as a lawyer, while keeping an eye on the more globalised character of commerce and life in general. 


 Frequently asked questions 

1. Who is the authorised foreign legal consultant?

A person is considered to be a Registered Foreign Legal Consultant if they have been granted permission to practise law in their home country, are currently in good standing as an lawyer or counsellor at law (or the equivalent), and hold a valid State Bar Certificate of Registration as a Foreign Legal Consultant.

2. What is the primary scope of work for international lawyers?

The major scope of work for international lawyers is as follows: – 

  • Drafting international and trade agreements
  • Investigate the rules and regulations of various nations.
  • Participate in sessions aimed at negotiating or resolving agreements or disputes.

3. Who are some renowned international law lawyers ?

To find international lawyers, one can consider looking into Interlegal members. Interlegal is a community of lawyers with many distinguished law firms across the globe.  

Join our Legal Network