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What does an International Lawyer do?

By Charity Delich
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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An international lawyer may work on a wide variety of issues that have international aspects to them. Most of these lawyers specialize in one specific area of law, such as corporate issues, like negotiating business deals for companies located in different countries. Alternatively, a lawyer can focus on litigating cases involving citizens or businesses with locations in multiple countries. These attorneys may also specialize in working on inter-nation agreements or treaties.

Some of the common areas requiring the services of an international lawyer include trade, business, tax, and law. Typically, an international trade lawyer counsels clients on the rules associated with trading between countries. They can offer advice about customs requirements for countries that trade across borders. Additionally, international trade lawyers may assist clients with financing foreign transactions by preparing and negotiating documentary letters of credit or other legal trade documents. They may also interact with the World Trade Organization, an organization that was formed to formally regulate international trade.

An lawyer who specializes in international business generally deals with corporate issues abroad. These types of lawyers often negotiate contracts that affect more than one country. For example, an international business lawyer may handle a contract that involves the merger of companies located in different countries. In addition, he may advise on setting up and dissolving foreign companies as well as international rules and regulations applicable to global businesses.

Tax lawyers who work in the global arena typically advise individuals or entities with sources of income outside their domestic countries. Generally, they have a solid understanding of how the tax laws in multiple countries work and often counsel clients about the tax implications associated with cross-border transactions. In addition, they can help businesses and individuals structure deals in a manner that helps to reduce their worldwide effective tax rates. Other job functions include maximizing foreign tax credits, excluding foreign tax income, and deferring income.

An international lawyer typically advises clients about issues relating to international law. They may appear before the World Court or international arbitration tribunals in order to litigate cases. International law lawyers can also advise their clients on issues relating to human rights. For example, a lawyer may counsel a government client about how an inter-nation human rights treaty that has been ratified by that government impacts the government’s torture policies. Lawyers may also prosecute or defend clients in war crime cases.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon965770 — On Aug 14, 2014

Thanks for this article. How might a graduate of business background switch to an international law practice? How lucrative is the job?

By anon309297 — On Dec 15, 2012

Is it difficult to enter into this field of law after graduating?

By anon306947 — On Dec 02, 2012

Is it possible that one could work as a child advocate lawyer internationally?

By anon258545 — On Apr 02, 2012

I'm a twelve year old girl, living in South Korea which is a small country in Asia. This article was a big help for me since I want to be an international lawyer in the future. Now I think an international lawyer is a better job than I thought! Thank you for writing this article. I really loved it.

By anon241414 — On Jan 18, 2012

I want to be an international lawyer. I am 16 years old. I am currently in French 2, a sophomore and will hopefully be fluent by the time I graduate. When I'm in college, I want to become fluent in Japanese and double major in International studies/relations and pre-law. My teachers and peers say that this is not a wise choice because they're a lot of risks. "Yes, I'll be rich but be so wrapped up in my work I won't have one minute to spend it with my family. If I have a family" they said.

So I would like someone to truthfully inform me about my future decisions because I feel your words are more creditable than their words. Thanks.

By anon129243 — On Nov 22, 2010

about how much can an international lawyer earn?

By shoeshopper — On Sep 01, 2010

MuffinMaker- Yes, most international lawyers speak a foreign language. Most lawyers will specialize in a certain region of the world and will therefore know a language spoken in that region.

It is often necessary for international lawyers to speak a foreign language at near native fluency. Because of the complication and technicality of legal documents, an advanced proficiency in the language is necessary. Many lawyers may have to live in the foreign country for an extended period of time to gain fluency.

By MuffinMaker — On Sep 01, 2010

Is it necessary for an international lawyer to speak a foreign language?

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