Opportunities in International Law

What are the job prospects in international law? There is a wide variety of types of assignment that can need to be worked on. Overview.

After undergraduate studies

According to Bernard Duhaime, former director of the Bachelor’s degree in International Law at UQAM, graduates “end up working for government or intergovernmental bodies, or in civil society with NGOs, for example.” Such a program provides access to positions as an information or research and development officer, political attaché, foreign affairs adviser or international trade consultant.

Master’s degree, an undeniable advantage

“Without exception, holding a Master’s degree in international law is increasingly necessary to practise,” says David Pavot, lecturer at the Université de Sherbrooke’s Faculty of Law. The legal departments of international companies, for example, are recruiting candidates who are more and more qualified. Business law and assignments relating to trade treaties such as NAFTA require deepening of essential knowledge.

International lawyer and jurist

In public and private international law, there are more and more contracts, negotiations and disputes that involve several jurisdictions. “The current trend is to hire multidisciplinary graduates: in law, in political science, in economics, etc.”, says David Pavot. “But practising a profession in international law does not necessarily require being a lawyer.”

Jurists in international law work in the public service, in a private firm, a multinational, international organizations (such as the International Labour Organization, the World Trade Organization or the International Civil Aviation Organization), as staff of international criminal tribunals, or for non-governmental organizations.

The Quebec asset

According to David Pavot, the “bi-legal culture” (an awareness of civil law and common law) and the frequent bilingualism of Quebec jurists make them prized candidates in international law. This is testified by the significant number of Quebec jurists in international organizations. “The placement rate of our graduates of the International Law and Applied International Policy Program is increasing. 40% of students find a job before the end of their Master’s degree,” says the lecturer.

Less traditional opportunities in international law

The International Committee of the Red Cross, Greenpeace or Amnesty International also employ jurists. They work in politics, in international cooperation or in consultation.

International human rights law and international environmental law lead, for example, to assignments in immigration consulting, international development consulting of a jurist specializing in international security law and conflict resolution.

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