Careers and Internships in International Law

Careers and Internships in International Law

Jeff V., an incoming law student, posted a series of questions to a post of Julian’s which can be boiled down as follows (a) does the ICJ have U.S.-styled clerkships and (b) how can someone learn more about careers in international law? Here are some general responses.

First, concerning clerkships at the ICJ: the ICJ has not traditionally had U.S.-styled clerkships although they have begun experimenting with the idea in the last few years, in part spurred by NYU Law School. I think the clerks tended to be assigned to the ICJ as a whole (rather than to specific judges) and then particular judges could use clerks or not, to their own liking. As far as I understand it, this has meant in practice that judges from common law countries (particularly the U.S. and the U.K.) have used clerks a good amount but other judges less so. Although I don’t see anything currently listed on the ICJ website, anyone interested in clerking for the ICJ should check the site frequently as it does announce, at times, internships that are available. If I get more info on this, I will pass it along.

Besides the ICJ, you may want to think about clerking at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal. Although the work of the tribunals winding down, it has used U.S. law clerks, usually after they have completed a federal court clerkship in the U.S.

As for criminal courts, the International Criminal Court has an internship/clerkship program. Similarly, both the Yugoslav and Rwandan Tribunals have employed recent law school graduates in a variety of capacities.

As for international law jobs more generally: the American Society of International Law has just published a new edition of its Guide to Careers in International Law. It is excellent. It has essays on different career paths and a list of organizations providing internships in international law. You can find more info on it at the ASIL’s website. By the way, a section of that website is also devoted to careers, so check it out. (Truth in advertising: I used to be the Director of Research and Outreach for the ASIL.)

The American Bar Association also has an excellent guide to careers in international law. Moreover, see the ABA’s international internship program.

Generally, I would advise getting involved in groups like the ASIL, the ABA Section on International Law and the American Branch of the International Law Association. (Of course, to answer a specific question of Jeff’s, you can also get involved with the American Constitution Society, the Federalist Society or whatever other interest groups you want.) The ASIL, the ABA, and the American Branch, however, are professional associations that include (relatively) broad ranges of views. I do think that of these the ASIL is particularly important, especially if your interest is public international law. In any case though, it is important to get involved and all of these organizations are enthusiastic about law students joining their ranks.

We’ll probably have further posts on advice for aspiring public and private international lawyers. I invite readers of Opinio Juris to post comments with any helpful thoughts they might have for anyone seeking employment in the field.

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Jeff V.
Jeff V.

Thank you for the advice; it was very helpful. I’ll definitely be sure to use the resources of ASIL as much as humanly possible.