By Edward Honnold
Q: I'm a '99 graduate, practicing with the federal government (administrative, employment, and civil rights law). However, I want a job where I can build on my academic background in international law. What advice do you have for a person with no professional experience in international law?
A: Finding opportunities in international law can be challenging for any lawyer, regardless of background. With one year of federal government experience in an unrelated field, it may be particularly challenging. The first question, of course, is what you mean by "international law": for example, are you referring to transnational commercial law, which most "international lawyers" practice; or "public" international law, which is the law governing relations among nations. With an academic background in this field, I'm sure you are aware of these and other options. In any area of international law practice, you will find that competition is stiff. Your law school credential will probably be more relevant here than your professional experience, since you are a '99 graduate. If you are looking for international work in a government agency, prepare yourself for an exhaustive networking campaign through U.S. and international organizations. Though you do not disclose your geographic location, I assume you are in Washington, D.C.; if not, you should be prepared to move to D.C., New York, or one of a handful of other cities with an international bar. Don't expect fast results in your search. Good luck.