Starting your legal career overseas
High-flying company executives are not the only ones who get to travel abroad as part of their careers. Law offers numerous opportunities to satisfy your travel bug while working or studying, whether on a short- or long-term basis. The trick to getting your frequent flyer points up is knowing where to look – and knowing what you want to experience.
So whether you want a two-week trip with a legal flavour, or you’re looking for something more permanent, here are some different opportunities that you should keep your eyes open for.
If you have an interest in going abroad to start a corporate law career, then doing an international clerkship is an ideal way of getting a taste for what it could be like before you decide to make a more long-term move.
Hong Kong and London are particularly good spots for Australian students, as firms in these cities actively recruit from Australia. Look out for when these clerkship applications open up, as different countries have different recruitment timeframes.
Pros: A brief insight into what may be distinctive about working in a particular jurisdiction, a feel for the different city and whether you can see yourself living there, and the ability to tack on a holiday before or after the clerkship.
Cons: Some of the overseas clerkships may coincide with domestic ones in terms of timing. This is of particular consideration for Sydneysiders and Canberrans!
If corporate law is not for you but you would still like a stint overseas there are still plenty of opportunities. A wide range of organisations offer internships for students and recent graduates, so it really depends on narrowing down your interests and thinking about how long you would like to be abroad.
For those interested in international law, The Hague is a popular destination. Look there for internships with the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the International Criminal Court and the Hague Conference on Private International Law.
Like the sound of cross-border dispute resolution? Many of the arbitration institutes, such as HKIAC (Hong Kong), SIAC (Singapore) and ICC (Paris) offer internships. Bodies such as the International Bar Association are also good options.
If you have a passion in humanitarian matters, bodies such as the United Nations and its associated agencies, Amnesty International, the Rene Cassin Human Rights Foundation and Human Rights Watch also offer a range of internships.
Pros: Gaining different and practical experience in a field of law that interests you, networking with practitioners in these fields, and also travel opportunities before, during and after the internship.
Cons: Many of these internships are unpaid, so it’s a good idea to look at funding as some scholarships are available.
Loved university and want to continue studying? Then perhaps undertaking a Masters in law or another discipline is for you.
If you do have a particular field of law that you would like to explore further, do some research into which overseas universities have well-known lecturers, the broadest subject range or the best extracurricular opportunities within that area.
Pros: Further study in a field of law that interests you and (you guessed it) numerous chances to travel.
Cons: Studying overseas for one year or more can be expensive! Some decide to undertake further study after working professionally for a number of years, although it is also a good idea to have a go at applying for scholarships.
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