International Trade and Business Law

Learn how you can pursue a career in international trade and law, including the courses and degrees you'll need to enter the field. Read about the employment outlook and salary ranges for licensed attorneys here, and make an informed decision about your future career.

Is International Trade and Business Law for Me?

Career Overview

A study of international trade and business law will allow you to examine the rules, regulations and legal aspects associated with global trade, financial investments and markets. International arbitration and bankruptcy, transnational litigation and foreign investment arbitration may also be covered. In general, students who pursue a formal education in this area of study are law school graduates, experienced lawyers or students who are pursuing a joint Juris Doctor (J.D.) and Master of Laws (L.L.M.) in International Business and Trade Law program.

Most legal work takes place in offices and courtrooms. Billable hours may be irregular, especially in private practices where attorneys might work in excess of 50 hours a week.

Career Options

As an expert in international trade and business law, you may be employed by the federal government or an international company. You might also explore opportunities in entrepreneurship.

Employment and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment of lawyers would grow by an average rate of 10% nationwide between 2012 and 2022. As of May 2013, the median annual salary for a lawyer was $114,300. Attorneys in the bottom 10% earned $55,170 or less per year, while those in the top 10% made $187,199 or more per year (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in International Trade and Business Law?

Undergraduate Programs

A degree program in international trade and business law can help you acquire a strong understanding of the world trade system. For example, you'll study both the multilateral and regional trade agreements associated with the North American Free Trade Agreement and the European Union. In addition, you'll learn about U.S. trade statutes and international business transactions from a legal standpoint.

A bachelor's degree in international relations, business or law can prepare you for admission to law school; a strong score on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) can also help with the application process. Some programs allow for a concentration in international trade and business law, either while you're enrolled or after you've earned your J.D. You'll also need to pass the bar exam in the state in which you choose to practice law.

Graduate Law Programs

A Master of Laws (L.L.M.) in International Business and Trade Law can complement a traditional J.D. program and typically requires 24 credits to complete. Courses may include topics in European Union and multinational corporate law, international trade remedies and U.S. customs and import regulations. You may also study administrative or admiralty law, the U.S. Court of International Trade, homeland security and international business transactions. Culminating degree requirements typically include a written thesis.

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