International and comparative law involves a wide variety of legal
work driven by the
increasing globalization of the world's economies. A growing number of
U.S.-based lawyers are practicing international law in law firms,
legal departments, nonprofits, and government agencies. Although most
jobs are found in large cities, this, too, is changing. Jobs may
require an expertise in public and/or private international law.
Alternatively, they may require a strong background in comparative law,
namely knowledge of how other legal systems are organized and the
substantive law of other countries.
Many international lawyers work in large law firms that have departments specializing in international trade. International lawyers in the private sector most frequently represent foreign companies seeking to do business in the United States and domestic corporations doing business abroad. Lawyers representing foreign clients provide a wide range of business services, including the formation of business entities; compliance with federal, state, and local U.S. tax laws; employment law; environmental and regulatory requirements; intellectual property; product or service distribution; and all other aspects of establishing and running businesses in the United States. Lawyers representing domestic clients interested in doing business abroad draft contracts and agreements; open branch offices and subsidiaries; structure foreign operations; ensure intellectual property protection including patents, trademarks, and tradenames; supervise international litigation and arbitration; and conduct international financial transactions.
Other international lawyers work for corporations with international interests, including accounting and consulting firms and financial institutions. And yet others work for government agencies such as the Department of State, Department of Commerce or the Department of Defense, the International Trade Commission; for international governmental organizations such as the United Nations or the World Bank; and for international non-governmental organizations such as the Human Rights Watch.
International Law is a competitive area, and jobs are highly sought after. Language skills and business experience are valuable, as are strong interpersonal communications skills and an interest in working with people from other cultures.
The Law School’s faculty is noteworthy for its international and foreign law research and teaching experience. Many of the Law School’s permanent faculty have worked overseas. The Law School draws on the international law expertise of numerous faculty members who teach courses in the international and comparative law program. Many other faculty members also engage in research on international and comparative law issues.
The following faculty
are among those who teach International and Comparative Law courses:
Clinics, Externships, and Internships
The UW Law School and Thammasat University
Faculty of Law offer a six-week unpaid summer internship program in
Bangkok, Thailand, that takes place during the month of July and the
first two weeks of August. Most of the time is spent working in an
international law firm in Bangkok. Before the internship begins, participants spend one or two days attending
lectures and field trips organized by Thammasat University law faculty
as an introduction to Thai law. Participants are not required to speak
Thai. For more information, contact John Ohnesorge at the East Asian Legal Studies Center.
Summer internships are available for 1L and 2L students in Vietnam at an international law firm. For more information, contact John Ohnesorge in the East Asian Legal Studies Center.
The summer internship program in South Asia was launched in 2009 and is
coordinated by the Global Legal Studies Center. There are eight
institutions in India and Sri Lanka that accept our students for summer internships -
these institutions range from law firms to NGOs based in Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai and Colombo. The students typically negotiate the start date as well as
the duration of the internship with the organization in question. There
is a formal application process.
Student Organizations and Related Activities
The East Asian Legal Studies Center continues the Law School's
long history of involvement in international and comparative law with
a variety of programs and activities related to the people and academic
institutions of East and Southeast Asia. The Center formalizes and
increases the Law School's academic interaction with universities, government
ministries, and the private sector, and is active in advanced law studies,
course development and library enhancement, providing student opportunities
for work and research, scholarly exchanges, professional programs and
The Global Legal Studies Center is a partnership between the University
of Wisconsin Law School and the Division of International Studies and Programs
at the University of Wisconsin - Madison to promote the understanding
of international, transnational, and comparative legal systems, processes,
and regimes. The Center supports research in international legal studies,
organizes workshops and conferences, expands connections with scholars
and institutions in the U.S. and overseas, deepens links with international
programs on campus, and shares expertise with constituencies in Wisconsin
and worldwide. Information about GLSC events can be found at: http://www.law.wisc.edu/gls/events.html.
Moot court is a mock appellate advocacy experience that helps law students develop strong writing and oral advocacy skills, intellectual flexibility, the ability to function well under pressure, and the self-confidence necessary to be successful advocates. Moot court, like law review, gives students the opportunity to focus on a single issue, prepare an in depth written product, and enhance their oral advocacy skills. For students interested in international law, the Philip C. Jessup Moot Court Competition provides an opportunity to brief and argue a legal issue that could come before the International Court of Justice.
UW students interested in international law also have the
opportunity to participate in the prestigious Willem C. Vis
International Commercial Arbitration Moot. The Vis Arbitral Moot is an
international competition that seeks to promote the study and practice
of international commercial law and arbitration. Each year students
from law schools across the globe compete in Hong Kong and Vienna,
Austria. The competition consists of written submissions on behalf of a
claimant and respondent in a realistic hypothetical international
business dispute, and oral arguments presented before high-level
praticing international lawyers. The UW Law School's East Asian Legal
Studies Center sponsors the UW Vis team, and UW Law School has competed
in the Moot since 2006. Students wishing to join the UW Vis team are
required to take International Commercial Arbitration during the fall
semester and to practice in a competitive try-out directed by the
current student members of the team. Interested students are also
encouraged to take Contracts II and/or International Business
Transactions. Please contact Professor Yackee for more information.
The Law School participates in ten exchange programs with foreign universities. In an exchange program, UW students pay the same tuition and fees to UW that they would pay for a semester at UW but attend foreign law schools or programs. In exchange the foreign schools send their students to the UW Law School. Some of the foreign programs are taught in English. Some, however, require proficiency in another language. Currently, the UW Law School has exchange programs with schools in Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy, India, Chile, Peru, Brazil, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. For more information on the application procedures, see Study Abroad.
The Law School has partnered with Marquette University Law School
and The University of Giessen Law School to offer a one-month session
in international and comparative law.
The Wisconsin International Law Journal offers articles of scholarly and practical interest in various areas of international law. Student members of the journal edit articles of scholarly and practical interest in various areas of international law and draft articles for submission and possible publication. Each spring, the Journal staff coordinates a conference on recent topics of interest in international law.
The Wisconsin International Law Society provides a forum for people and ideas involving international legal issues by getting together experts in diverse fields for informal discussion and cordials. They have also coordinated guest speakers and round table discussions on contemporary international law issues.