If you want to be an international lawyer, you probably already know that it’s difficult and high-pressure work, requiring long hours and a lengthy period of intense training and education that could leave you with significant debts before you even start earning a living. However, if you’re determined to go ahead, you probably also realize that a career in international law can be intensely rewarding. You could also earn a high salary while doing interesting work and seeing the world.
A Legal Success
An example of a successful international law practitioner is Shahram Shirkhani. The founding partner in Tehran-based international law firm Shirkhani&Alavi, Dr. Shirkhani studied in the US and the UK. This gave him an insight into negotiating cultural differences in a business setting, which proved invaluable in his later career. Dr. Shirkhani became a professor of law at Tehran’s Islamic Azad University, where he taught International Private Law and International Commercial Arbitration, among other subjects. He also provided legal consulting services for major corporations, the Iranian government, and local municipal projects via his first partnership, International Law and Trade Consultants. Today, he advises many corporate and government clients in banking law, foreign investment, commercial arbitration, and so on.
To begin your own international law career, you’ll first need to complete an undergraduate bachelor’s degree. It doesn’t matter too much what this is in, but relevant subjects might include economics, history, government and politics, international studies, or a foreign language. During your junior year, you will need to pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). You may be able to do a preparatory course to help you through this half-day exam, which tests your analytical reasoning, critical thinking, and reading skills.
Next, you have to do three years of law school. A Juris Doctor’s Degree is the minimum requirement to practice any kind of law in the US. After this, you’ll need to pass the bar exam, a professional responsibility exam, and be admitted to the state bar association. Then you can get to work.
Develop your CV
Remember, your first job is likely to be dull and badly paid, but it is there to get you experience, look good on your CV, and pave your way to a better second job. You may consider working for a charitable NGO. This may initially be voluntary work, but it can provide great experience and connections, while giving you an insight into the real world and helping those less fortunate around the globe.
Another option is to go into the legal department of a large corporation. In these days of globalization, most big commercial firms require a legal department that can deal with international trade and labor rules, among other areas.
Whatever route you take, the key is to work hard and keep one eye on your next step. Make the right connections, pay your dues, and prove your worth, and soon you could be enjoying a high-flying career in international law.