International Law Career Guide

By Devan Orr
Updated February 2022

U.N. Security Council

Careers in International Affairs (Georgetown University Press).
Not geared specifically to law students, this e-book conveys a sense of employment possibilities and hiring dynamics in international affairs. The chapters devoted to the U.S. government and international organizations are comprehensive, while other chapters (such as those on banking, business, and consulting) contain a sampling of organizations.

Careers in International Law, 5th ed., Salli Anne Swartz, ed., Chicago, IL: American Bar Association, Section of International Law, 2019.
This book includes essays by international lawyers practicing in both the private and public sectors. Sample chapter titles are: Practicing International Criminal Law, The Road to an International In-house Legal Career, How Do You Get from Philadelphia to Paris?, Fair Winds and Following Seas: a Career in Admiralty Practice, and Start Now: Leveraging Law School for a Global Career.
OCS KF299 .T73 C37

Careers in International Law: A Guide to Career Paths and Internships in International Law, Washington, D.C.: American Society of International Law, updated periodically.
This guide contains essays, in which seasoned practitioners share their experiences and offer advice concerning career paths in public and private international law fields, in areas such as criminal, human rights, international trade, and the environment, international development, dispute resolution, and legal information. Detailed information and descriptions from over 75 organizations and institutions that offer a variety of internships, fellowships and pro bono work are provided, as are procedures for applying to them.
OCS KZ1238 .U55 C473

Serving the Public: A Job Search Guide: Harvard Law School's Handbook and Directory for Law Students and Lawyers Seeking Public Service Work (Vol II: International), by Stacy M. DeBroff, Harvard Law School, updated periodically.
This guide details how to look for jobs and work in different areas of public international law. The book includes an extensive listing of over 400 potential employers. It also contains fellowship, summer funding, and bibliography information, as well as information on international work on Capitol Hill, international litigation, development work, and opportunities for international positions in state or local government.
OCS KF299 .P8 P83

Guide to Foreign Law Firms, 5th ed., James R. Silkenat and William M. Hannay, eds, Chicago, IL: American Bar Association, 2010.

Designed to assist American lawyers in identifying legal counsel in foreign jurisdictions, this guide is arranged in six geographical sections, with countries listed alphabetically within each section. Typical information includes name of firm, address, telephone, telex, and fax numbers, names of partners, and other offices, if any.
OCS K68 .G85

Yearbook of International Organizations, Brussels: Union of International Associations. Updated annually.
A compilation of over 22,000 international organizations and their addresses, structures, memberships and publications. 

Journal Articles

Davies, Kenneth B., Jr.,"Six Uneasy Pieces", 24 Wis. Int'l L.J. 31 (Winter 2006).
This article discusses the impact of technology and globalization on the practice of international law and the the importance of law students to recognize the changing landscape of international law.

Gerson, Donna, "Global Climate Change Offers Hot Career Opportunities: Michael Gerrard, Editor of Global Climate Change and U.S. Law, Is Passionate About Global Warming and the Role Lawyers Can Play in Improving the Environment. (Interview)", 37 Student Lawyer 30 (November 2008).
An interview with a successful individual in the field of environmental law, this article discusses practicing international law at small and large firms as well as government agencies and offers advice to students considering the field. The interview also explores the opportunities offered by the federal government's current and probable future efforts to address global climate change.

International Law Society, Pennsylvania State University -- Dickinson Law, "The Practice of International Law." [2011]
Produced in conjunction with a career panel hosted at Dickinson Law School, members of the International Law Society interviewed two international law attorneys to find out how they entered the profession and what their careers have encompassed.

Jeffries, Kim, "Navigating Norway: A Lesson in Maritime Law and a Look at an Overseas Career", 2 Oregon State Bar Journal 40 (2021).

Discusses her personal experience in maritime law and moving overseas to work as an attorney in Norway. Highlights differences in work culture in Europe versus the United States.

Krause, Jason, "Making Space Matter: as Commercial Prospects in Space Grow, a Niche Practice May Be Moving into the Mainstream", 94 ABA Journal 54 (2008).
Describes how the young and growing field of "Space Law" is an offshoot of traditional international law, and outlines the legal framework and future opportunities for lawyers.

Swartz, Salli Anne, "Inside Secrets from an International Lawyer", Student Lawyer [online] (2016).
The author shares her experiences on choosing, preparing for, and launching a career in international law.

Wojcik, Mark E., "Working Internationally: There's No Prescribed Pathway Into International Law, But as You Find Your Way There, Make Sure Your Reasons Are Sound", 36 Student Lawyer 18 (January 2008).
A general guide intended for law students interested in an international legal career, this article contains cautionary material intended to clarify the nature of an international legal career, profiles of successful individuals in the field, and a series of recommendations for students interested in the field.

Other Online Career Guides

Chicago-Kent College of Law maintains a guide to the international legal profession, including an overview of different focus areas. Harvard's Office of Public Interest Advising also has a career guide (last updated 2011) specifically exploring how to get involved in international development through the public interest sphere.


These groups offer membership opportunities and information about the practice of international law. Some may sponsor seminars or conferences on relevant topics.

American Bar Association, Section on International Law
740 15th St, NW
Washington, DC 20005

American Society of International Law
2223 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
tel: (202) 939-6000

International Law Students Association
25 E. Jackson Blvd., Suite 518
Chicago, IL 60604
tel: (312) 362-5025
fax: (312) 362-5073

Photo:  Associated Press