By Edward Honnold
Q: I am currently a pre-law student majoring in Spanish and Portuguese. I love to find a way to apply these to a future law degree. What exactly is international law and how are the odds of an American student working in a foreign country? An urgent response would be appreciated.
A: I commend you for your choice of such interesting and important languages to study. However, you will probably wish to be realistic about their limited applicability to a future career in law. If you are a citizen of the United States, you will probably wish to study law in the United States. International law coursework will inevitably be a relatively small proportion of your curriculum in law school. Upon graduating, your career prospects will probably not be greatly enhanced by your language skills, but instead will have much more to do with the quality of the law school you attended and your class rank. Relatively few Americans practice law overseas. Most expatriate practitioners are affiliated with the overseas branches of major domestic U.S. firms, which are highly selective in their admissions. This alone should not discourage you, if you are bright and aggressive. But your langage abilities, though immensely valuable interpersonally, will most likely prove somewhat less valuable than other assets you will need to secure an international commercial or transnational (inter-governmental) practice.