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Lawyers generally focus their practice on one or two areas of the law once they are licensed to practice. Although the requirements to practice law differ from one jurisdiction to another, in most cases, a lawyer must first complete law school, or the equivalent. For students who aspire to become an international lawyer, a school which offers a good international law program is essential. Finding the best international law program may be accomplished by researching the general standing of the school, as well as the international law classes offered, and searching for schools with internship or study-abroad programs in the area of international law.
With the rise in international trade has come the need for lawyers who understand international law. International law is a complex web of treaties and agreements between nations of the world that guide them through the legal issues involved in international trade, crime, and commerce. Lawyers who focus on international law must understand not only the law of their country of origin, but must also understand the international law that applies to the area of the law in which they practice.
Deciding on an international law program starts with understanding the requirements for becoming a lawyer in the prospective lawyer's country of origin. In the United States, for example, a student must generally complete an undergraduate education and then obtain a juris doctorate degree by completing three years of law school. The final step is to become licensed in the state where he or she plans to work by passing the bar examination, the multi-state professional responsibility examination, and pass a background check.
All law schools within the United States are required to teach students the basics in a number of areas of the law, such as constitutional and contract law as well as criminal and civil procedure. Some law schools also offer students the option to take electives in areas of interest. As international law is one of the more complicated areas of law, the school's general reputation should be taken into account when choosing an international law program. In addition, an aspiring international lawyer should look for schools that offer a variety of classes focused on the different areas of international law.
A student looking for a good international law program should choose a school that offers internships with agencies practicing international law or that offers study-abroad programs. Many law schools help students to find school-year or summer internships that allow them to gain practical experience in specific areas of the law. A law school located in a large, international city is more likely to offer internship opportunities with an agency or firm that practices international law. Some schools, for instance, offer programs that allows the student to interact with the United Nations or a court system in a foreign country.
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