International Law Career and School Choice

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )
User avatar
dingbat
Posts: 4976
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:12 pm

Re: International Law Career and School Choice

Postby dingbat » Sat Jan 12, 2013 9:16 am

Despite what a lot of people on this board say (see quick answers above) international transactional law exists, though it might not be what you think it is. That being said, a number of the top law firms do this. Just go to their websites and see which have an office in Germany. Keep in mind that this kind of work will predominantly be done in the big offices, mainly New York (LA and SF do more cross-border stuff with asia). To get into the New York office, you'll need to graduate from a T14, or maybe BU/BC/GW/Fordham (but only the very best students from those schools).
That being said, your background helps, but not a lot. Firstly, a lot of students have done a semester abroad, so you don't really have a leg up. Secondly, you will be on the US end of the transaction, not the German end. You will not be sent to Germany as there are enough lawyers in Germany who know German law; many of them are sent for a year (or two) to the U.S. to become more familiar with U.S. law. Your language skill also won't be of much use, because it is far more likely that the Germans you will be working with are fluent in English, probably more so than you.
The firms that do this work will probably choose someone with better grades, or from a better school. But, if you're competing with someone of similar educational bonafides (e.g. a classmate of similar class rank) then you've got a leg up on them, but not a big one.
Now, just about every school has international opportunities, a summer or a semester abroad. But, you can go to any school's summer/semester abroad and have it count. So, if your school only offers programs in Paris, Seoul or Akra, but you want to go to Munich, you can look for any ABA approved program in Munich (of which there will be at least one) and go there. It's slightly more paperwork, but that's about it. The key thing to remember here is that it's often a bad idea.
During 1L year it's not permitted. During that summer, it's better to have a legal job than to study abroad. Not only that, financially, you're better off working (even an unpaid internship costs less than a summer abroad). Having legal work experience, any legal work experience, during the summer matters. During your 2L year, the first semester you should be in the US so you can go through and go to interviews. If you don't get anything out of OCI, you'll need to be here second semester so you can hustle and find something for the summer. Your second summer you will hopefully be a summer associate, or otherwise a summer intern. If you have neither, there's a good chance you'll end up unemployed. Now, if you summer at a firm and they make you an offer, congratulations, you can do what you want. But you don't know for certain that this will happen so you can't arrange to summer abroad during your 3L fall semester. For your 3L spring semester, if you have a job offer in hand, sure, go ad have fun. But, if you don't, you certainly wouldn't want to be anywhere other than here, hustling for a job.
To sum up, the only time it makes sense to go abroad is your last semester, if you already have a job offer.

Going to law school for as cheaply as you can is a fair point. However, money is an issue for a huge swath of law school applicants, including many who didn't get any help from their parents for undergrad. However, quite often the employment prospects coming out of a cheaper school are so much worse as to make it a bad decision. An easy way to look at it is that a T14 is usually worth the price difference from a T30, which is worth the price difference from any other school that is not a regional powerhouse (which none of the schools you're waiting to hear back from are)

Now, to get to your numbers. Your GPA is on the low side, and your LSAT is too low to get into anywhere decent. Basically, without serious real-world experience, admissions boils down to your numbers. You can't do anything about your GPA anymore, it's too late for that. So, you need to improve your LSAT. Considering your goals, you should aim for the T14, and consider BU, BC, GW, Fordham, UCLA, USC, UT and Vanderbilt (let someone else argue the pros and cons of these schools). For the T14, considering your GPA, you'll need to score an LSAT of 170+; for the other schools, anything less than 165 won't do. And remember, the higher your LSAT, the more scholarship money you'll get.

You said you're considering deferring until 2014. This is a smart move. It gives you time to prepare to retake the LSAT and it gives you some work experience. Not enough to have a real impact, but still, it'll help a little bit. It also helps during interviews, as it shows you can function in a job.

toothbrush
Posts: 2388
Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2012 2:21 pm

Re: International Law Career and School Choice

Postby toothbrush » Sat Jan 12, 2013 9:50 am

What do the attorneys who work for the U.N in NYC under the guise of "international lawers" do? I would assume it's not transactional. I also always assumed it was a pure and rare strand of international law that has to do with the law between nations (lul?)

Thoughts?

User avatar
dingbat
Posts: 4976
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:12 pm

Re: International Law Career and School Choice

Postby dingbat » Sat Jan 12, 2013 10:18 am

toothbrush wrote:What do the attorneys who work for the U.N in NYC under the guise of "international lawers" do? I would assume it's not transactional. I also always assumed it was a pure and rare strand of international law that has to do with the law between nations (lul?)

Thoughts?
Let's start by saying a number of these lawyers are not from the U.S. Let's add that generally these positions are not filled by law school grads, rather by more senior lawyers who already have a proven track record.

Having said that, at the U.N. in New York, lawyers pretty much do the same as DC lawyers do, which is everything from helping draft laws, to argue over the interpretation, to advising delegates on various matters, to arbitration, mediation and negotiation.

User avatar
Lincoln
Posts: 1029
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:27 pm

Re: International Law Career and School Choice

Postby Lincoln » Sat Jan 12, 2013 10:53 am

Dingbat's is TCR. (Because OP seems to care, I'm a 3L at a T14 w/ accepted V5 offer and lots of international work experience.)

In response to toothbrush's question, there is such a thing as public international law. Someone does help draft international treaties, work at the international courts, etc. The problem is these jobs are very hard to get.

First, there are not very many positions, and you are competing against applicants from the whole world. With respect to the UN, applicants from smaller countries are generally favored in the application process. This is to ensure that the UN remains a truly international organization and isn't dominated by staff from great powers with large populations. (There's a reason all of the Secretaries General have been from, in reverse chronological order, South Korea, Ghana, Egypt, Peru, Austria, Myanmar, Sweden, Norway.) Moreover, for many international organizations, applicants from other countries often have better international credentials (in the form of language skills, study/work abroad, IGO/NGO experience, etc.) than do US applicants.

Second, even competition against US lawyers is fierce. The size of the United States and the number of law school graduates in comparison to the population and rate of law school enrollment abroad means that you are competing against many more people with identical educational qualifications than non-US applicants. There are many people who want to work in these kinds of jobs, and distinguishing yourself is difficult, especially if your educational credentials are not stellar (i.e. HYS or at least T14 with good grades).

In order to minimize the first obstacle, one could seek jobs only with US institutions. Working at the state department is one avenue, but because of the limited number of open positions and the second point I make above, these jobs are still very difficult to get.

There are some other options, like working for the ABA's Rule of Law Initiative. But if you look at the paid positions, see http://www.americanbar.org/advocacy/rule_of_law/about/opportunities/openings.html, they often require things like "JD, with significant coursework addressing theme relevant to field of human rights study; 10 years professional experience including 5 years as a practicing lawyer, including experience litigating issues related to international human rights; Academic expertise with clinic programs; Experience training and mentoring students and/or lawyers." In order to even get started on this path, you probably need to target this kind of experience early, ideally before law school, obtain relevant (unpaid) internships and externships during law school, and get a fellowship after law school. I know a very small number of people (I can think of two from my class) who are on this path, and it hasn't been easy for them. Because of point two, above, it's not an easy path to take. The lack of money in this field makes it even more difficult. Most such positions are unpaid, and you will be reliant on external funding unless you have independent financial support in the form of savings or generous parents. There is incredible competition for fellowships and grants, and once you have committed to this path, if things were to go south (for example if you don't get a post-graduate fellowship) the current job market makes it near-impossible to transition into the private sector. It's a big risk to take, especially with debt.

I'm sure there are people on this forum who can address the practicalities of taking either of the last few paths discussed better than I can.

toothbrush
Posts: 2388
Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2012 2:21 pm

Re: International Law Career and School Choice

Postby toothbrush » Sat Jan 12, 2013 11:05 am

@dingbat + lincoln


Thank you for the write up. Some of that I knew, some I figured, and the rest was a surprise.

Daalsz35
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:08 pm

Re: International Law Career and School Choice

Postby Daalsz35 » Sat Jan 12, 2013 3:04 pm

bluepenguin wrote:
Suralin wrote:
Daalsz35 wrote:So far I've gathered that all that matters to employers is the name of your school and your grades. It seems lots of sub tier-1 schools spend significant amounts of money trying to convince one otherwise. Thanks for disabusing me of the notion that specializations matter, there seems to be a consensus that it's really a bunch of smoke and mirrors.


I'm pleasantly surprised by OP's response. After a bunch of idiotic threads/OPs, it's nice to know that there are indeed some people who will listen to good advice without being defensive.


Seriously. I've never seen anyone come around so fast, and not just come around but come from "American has cream of the crop programs maybe worth sticker" to a nascent understanding of the realities of legal employment.

Kudos OP. Good luck.


The whole time the programs thing smelled fishy to me. I have various lawyer acquaintances (I don't think any of them went to top 14 schools) who have told me the following and hearing it here just reinforced the message. Among the stuff I've heard:

- Some lawyer on a forum I frequent told me, after I asked for his advice, that "everybody thinks it's going to be different for them, but it never is". Basically saying that a law career in the private sector is all about playing the same biglaw game.
- Another lawyer told me not to study abroad during the summers, otherwise it will be a pain in the ass to find a job.
- If you don't go to a T14 you really absolutely MUST be top 10% of your class and be on law review

So I hear basically the same stuff here. That wasn't too surprising. The only thing is that I really did think that taking advantage of a school's specialization programs if they are known for them might matter if you want to go into the particular line of work related to that specialization. Well according to the lawyers and 3Ls who promptly responded in this thread that's bullshit.

I just wish I had been on this forum as a college freshman.

User avatar
cinephile
Posts: 3469
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:50 pm

Re: International Law Career and School Choice

Postby cinephile » Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:07 pm

PM'd.

User avatar
bluepenguin
Posts: 285
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:33 pm

Re: International Law Career and School Choice

Postby bluepenguin » Sat Jan 12, 2013 5:31 pm

Daalsz35 wrote:I just wish I had been on this forum as a college freshman.


Don't we all. Don't we all...




Return to “Choosing a Law School”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: pcph and 1 guest