So does international law really not exist?

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AlexandraHope
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So does international law really not exist?

Postby AlexandraHope » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:27 pm

I was reading a couple of older threads on TLS and the general conscious was that international law didn't exist. Is that true? i know that some schools have a international law program, are these a waste of time?

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rinkrat19
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby rinkrat19 » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:33 pm

AlexandraHope wrote:I was reading a couple of older threads on TLS and the general conscious was that international law didn't exist. Is that true? i know that some schools have a international law program, are these a waste of time?

It exists, but it's very rare, and in most cases doesn't involve what you think it does. If you go to law school with the exclusive goal of practicing international law, you'd better be prepared to do something else (like work for a firm doing corporate work, or broaden your scope to include more attainable areas in public interest) because there are overwhelming odds that you won't get that sparkly rainbow unicorn job with the UN or Greenpeace or Médecins Sans Frontières.

(Which is what you should have gleaned already if you'd read the TLS threads on it.)

kaiser
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby kaiser » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:34 pm

Of course it exists. Its just that jobs in that discreet field are very rare and highly competitive. But it also depends on what you mean when you refer to international law. Some people are only referring to those unicorn-like jobs that aren't realistic (ex. arguing international human rights issues before the Hague). Others maybe just mean a litigation practice with a global aspect to it, which is far more realistic. Hell, my firm has a global subarea of its litigation practice, so those folks are dealing with issues of international law every day. So its all about what you mean when you talk about "international law", which is essentially too broad a term to really understand on its own.

Nomo
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby Nomo » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:43 pm

Almost any civil litigator could end up in the position of having to enforce, or defend against a foreign judgment; or serve someone in a foreign country. Many transactional lawyeers will work on a transaction between parties from two different countries. But this isn't what most people think of when they say - international law, its mainly just dealing with the domestic laws of multiple countries. Though it can certainly be complicated.

If you're talking about prosecuting war crimes or negotiating international treaties. Well, that exists too. But I've never met anyone who does that stuff on a regular basis. I have known people who got clerkships at the Hague, but I don't know anyone who was able to actually practice in that area after leaving the clerkship. There just aren't many people doing this for a living.

TheDogWhisperer
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby TheDogWhisperer » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:46 pm

I think BIT/commercial arbitration is probably a more attainable goal 10X fold than int. law... that could be something you might want to pursue

AlexandraHope
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby AlexandraHope » Tue Apr 21, 2015 3:40 pm

TheDogWhisperer wrote:I think BIT/commercial arbitration is probably a more attainable goal 10X fold than int. law... that could be something you might want to pursue


Could you please explain?

Lawyerrr
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby Lawyerrr » Tue Apr 21, 2015 3:49 pm

There are also international trade groups within corporate departments. Not sure if that fits into your definition of international law.

kartelite
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby kartelite » Tue Apr 21, 2015 3:51 pm

AlexandraHope wrote:
TheDogWhisperer wrote:I think BIT/commercial arbitration is probably a more attainable goal 10X fold than int. law... that could be something you might want to pursue


Could you please explain?


Isn't it sort of self-evident? International arb is a growing/reasonably-sized practice area (with dedicated practice groups at some major firms), at least compared to international law. Hence more opportunities and more attainable.

CanadianWolf
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:09 pm

OP: The best way to determine if you'd be interested in a law career involving transnational matters, read some international law journals. Many law schools have student run international law journals; Penn, Vanderbilt, Fordham, Georgia, Yale, Cornell, Michigan, NYU, Chicago, Virginia, Minnesota, Hastings & American (not sure if this list is current).

There are many other journals which focus on international & comparative law, but are not affiliated with US law schools.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:45 pm

Except international law journals aren't really going to have anything to do with the practice of international law.

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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:56 pm

International, transnational & comparative law issues. Also, practice issues may be discussed in some articles.

Regardless, OP's question asks whether or not "international Law" exists. Certainly this question would be answered by reading international law journals. For practice issues, some of the Canadian journals may be a bit more concerned with dealing with US & Canadian courts.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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DavidConeSplitter
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby DavidConeSplitter » Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:58 pm

Does WEEDLAW exist yet?

CanadianWolf
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:01 pm

Check Colorado's & Washington's law reviews/journals.

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ymmv
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby ymmv » Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:04 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Except international law journals aren't really going to have anything to do with the practice of international law.


What do these journals even talk about, OOC? Is it all just like conflict of laws shit?

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AreJay711
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby AreJay711 » Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:15 pm

ymmv wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Except international law journals aren't really going to have anything to do with the practice of international law.


What do these journals even talk about, OOC? Is it all just like conflict of laws shit?


Who can you blow up with drones? What does WTO decision X imply? Asylum matters. How will supernational government action Y affect Z?

Really, anything they can to cover up the fact that Russia has proven that public international law doesn't exist.

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Vursz
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby Vursz » Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:38 pm

I'm on the board of an international law journal. We get a lot of submissions dealing with the implications of various U.S. decisions on treaty interpretation, about WTO and IMF policy with respect to development, and, yes, international arbitration stuff. There are definitely more theoretical pieces about expanding our philosophical perspectives on standing, etc., but we really do make an effort to publish content that will be useful to real-world practitioners and not just scholars who enjoy esoterica.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Apr 21, 2015 6:33 pm

The thing is, of course international law exists, both as an academic subject and as an actual thing. When people here say it doesn't exist, they don't mean people don't write LR articles about it, they mean you can't get a job doing international law. Being chief justice of SCOTUS exists, and lots of people write about CJs, but if you're going to law school to become CJ of SCOTUS, well, good luck with that.

(Which isn't to say no one ever gets jobs in international law or no one ever becomes chief justice, just that you may want to have backup plans. And working in international law depends a lot on what you mean by that, and on what else you bring to the table - if you mean international human rights UN etc. you likely need qualifications that you don't get simply by going to law school. At least, if I'm paraphrasing worldtraveler correctly.)

AlexandraHope
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby AlexandraHope » Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:01 pm

kartelite wrote:
AlexandraHope wrote:
TheDogWhisperer wrote:I think BIT/commercial arbitration is probably a more attainable goal 10X fold than int. law... that could be something you might want to pursue


Could you please explain?


Isn't it sort of self-evident? International arb is a growing/reasonably-sized practice area (with dedicated practice groups at some major firms), at least compared to international law. Hence more opportunities and more attainable.


No I get that. Could you please explain what my responsibilities would be as this type of lawyer?

BigZuck
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby BigZuck » Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:07 pm

AlexandraHope wrote:No I get that. Could you please explain what my responsibilities would be as this type of lawyer?


timbs4339 wrote:0830: Wake up in stately 16th Century hotel in Zurich. Kiss beautiful Russian model you met last night goodbye.

0930: Breakfast at cafe overlooking the clear waters of Lake Zurich. Read the Financial Times and chuckle about their shoddy reporting on a deal you headlined last week.

1000: Take high-speed train to Paris, fielding conference calls from several CEOs and bankers.

1100: Negotiate $13 billion merger between US company and European conglomerate. Everyone speaks English with a broken accent, of course, so you can understand all the documents and the negotiations.

1230: Lunch with other International Corporate Lawyers at International Corporate Lawyer Club, everyone, of course, speaking English with a broken accent.

1400: Fly to the Hague for some pro-bono work. By 1500, you've convicted a genocidal African dictator of every war crime imaginable. He curses you in broken English. A hundred survivors from the village he attacked gift your their ceremonial hunting horn. The chief's beautiful, Oxford educated daughter, who you've been working closely with, flashes you a flirtatious smile.

1730: Return to London office of International Corporate Law Firm. Exchange witty banter with secretary. Get dressed down by your curmudgeonly boss.

1900: High-stakes Baccarat game at Monte Carlo with head of European finance ministry. After beating him, he agrees to relax certain disclosure requirements for IPOs. Also he pays for champagne (in broken English) and you party with Russian model and African chief's daughter.

2300: Returning to hotel, concierge informs you of a call. Picking up, you hear "Mr. Corporate Lawyer, this is our fifth call. You've missed the last three payments on your student loans. If you'd like to discuss repayment options, you can contact me at 1-800-FANTASY."

You wake up in a cold sweat, and realize you have less than 20 minutes to get dressed, shower, and get to your document review job in a warehouse in New Jersey. Think about going back to law school for the "International Law LLM."

TheOnePercent
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby TheOnePercent » Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:11 pm

AlexandraHope wrote:international law didn't exist

If you'd be satisfied doing cross-border transactional work - certain white shoe NY firms will get you there (thinking Cleary and Shearman specifically).

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rpupkin
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby rpupkin » Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:36 pm

I think there's more international law out there than TLS'ers realize. Most of it, though, is boring as fuck. It's not that hard to find a job at a U.S. firm that will give you the opportunity to do 12 hours a day of doc review in preparation for grueling international arbitration cases. Or you can work for a foreign company fighting over tariffs with the commerce department. There's more to "international law" than just prosecuting war criminals at the Hague.

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jbagelboy
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby jbagelboy » Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:40 pm

International law certainly exists. Being an "international lawyer", not so much at the junior level. The trope about international law is most relevant as applied to pre-laws and first years who mistake their aspirations of grandeur and sophistication and a few undergraduate IR classes as a legitimate interest in a tangible field. In reality, much of law is "international" in scope but rarely does that matter.

Seen from another perspective, there's a ton of international law, broken into both private int'l law and public int'l law. I'd say there are three major "private" international law areas. First is corporate. Most major deals and restructuring at large firms will have an international dimension; this means assets and interests outside this country fall in non-U.S. jurisdictions. What simplifies things is that most major corporations and commercial agreements prefer or opt into New York or London (City) corporate law, so the argument could be made that most international corporate law is really just new york corporate law.

Arbitration and commercial investment disputes are another legitimate international private law practice. So is international trade. However, only a few firms can really claim any stake in this field, and those that do -- e.g. Freshfields, White & Case, ect -- can't even staff a junior associate full time on that work. So are you going to be an "international lawyer"? No, not really. You just might do some doc review for a proceeding in an arbital court in another country. You won't be traveling around the world for arbitrations (as an associate, that is). I'm not putting down arbitration work -- it's just not necessarily glamorous.

Lastly, white collar practices tend to be very "international" in scope. FCPA blew up a few years ago and now some large firms, e.g. Debevoise, can staff dozens of litigation associates on a few international matters. For partners, this could mean some travel to major centers -- Hong Kong, Singapore, or bumfuck Nebraska if that's where the interviews take place, who knows. For the junior associates on the team? You're reviewing documents, drafting memos and prepping defense. The documents might have been generated in Manhattan, Zurich, or Kazakhstan, it doesn't really matter, you're sitting in your office either way.

Of course, public international law exists too. Attorneys at DOS practice it, and OLA probably comes closest to the image in the 0Ls mind of practicing international law. While I have friends working there that love it, keep in mind this is nearly SCOTUS-level competitive. The pro bono practices of major DC/NY firms will feature multi-jurisdictional proceedings with international flavor, such as deportations, sex trafficking, alien tort statute claims. If you have time for non-billables, that is. International organizations do hire some attorneys, but I don't think the work itself these lawyers do is as compelling as it sounds. For example, UN lawyers often just handle the pesky jurisdictional questions surrounding employee sexual harassment claims and tort suits by private citizens.

So international law in its various embodiments exists, and it's worth studying (in my opinion). Will you be practicing some "international law" when you graduate from law school? If you count doc review and conference calls, yea, of course. Will you be an international lawyer? No. Not really. Don't take yourself too seriously.

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nealric
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby nealric » Wed Apr 22, 2015 11:17 am

It certainly exists- it's just not what 0Ls think it is when they say they want to do it. Most law schools that talk up their "international law" offerings are just pandering to the 0L fantasies and not to actual practice demands.

In my experience, 0Ls mostly think of doing international law in the context of human rights or negotiating treaties. The ones that talk up international transactions or arbitration think they are going to be traveling to Paris every other week. The reality is that very few lawyers make a viable career out of public interest international law. International transactions aren't nearly as sexy in practice as most 0Ls think they are. If you are doing biglaw corporate, it would be highly unusual if you didn't do any international work. But it's still going to be the same grunt work of assembling documents as any other corporate transaction. Even partners don't physically travel nearly as much any more- clients don't want to pay for it.

Moneytrees
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby Moneytrees » Thu May 07, 2015 4:11 pm

BigZuck wrote:
AlexandraHope wrote:No I get that. Could you please explain what my responsibilities would be as this type of lawyer?


timbs4339 wrote:0830: Wake up in stately 16th Century hotel in Zurich. Kiss beautiful Russian model you met last night goodbye.

0930: Breakfast at cafe overlooking the clear waters of Lake Zurich. Read the Financial Times and chuckle about their shoddy reporting on a deal you headlined last week.

1000: Take high-speed train to Paris, fielding conference calls from several CEOs and bankers.

1100: Negotiate $13 billion merger between US company and European conglomerate. Everyone speaks English with a broken accent, of course, so you can understand all the documents and the negotiations.

1230: Lunch with other International Corporate Lawyers at International Corporate Lawyer Club, everyone, of course, speaking English with a broken accent.

1400: Fly to the Hague for some pro-bono work. By 1500, you've convicted a genocidal African dictator of every war crime imaginable. He curses you in broken English. A hundred survivors from the village he attacked gift your their ceremonial hunting horn. The chief's beautiful, Oxford educated daughter, who you've been working closely with, flashes you a flirtatious smile.

1730: Return to London office of International Corporate Law Firm. Exchange witty banter with secretary. Get dressed down by your curmudgeonly boss.

1900: High-stakes Baccarat game at Monte Carlo with head of European finance ministry. After beating him, he agrees to relax certain disclosure requirements for IPOs. Also he pays for champagne (in broken English) and you party with Russian model and African chief's daughter.

2300: Returning to hotel, concierge informs you of a call. Picking up, you hear "Mr. Corporate Lawyer, this is our fifth call. You've missed the last three payments on your student loans. If you'd like to discuss repayment options, you can contact me at 1-800-FANTASY."

You wake up in a cold sweat, and realize you have less than 20 minutes to get dressed, shower, and get to your document review job in a warehouse in New Jersey. Think about going back to law school for the "International Law LLM."

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prezidentv8
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Re: So does international law really not exist?

Postby prezidentv8 » Thu May 07, 2015 5:22 pm

Once I did an international law thing. Argued a motion about whether or not we correctly served some foreign dude under some service treaty. We were in a courthouse basically in the middle of the forest. So it does exist!

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