International Business Law Degree Program Overviews

Oct 11, 2019

International business law degrees can be obtained via a joint Juris Doctor (J.D.) and Master of Laws (LL.M.) program, or with an LL.M. program alone. Students in these programs learn about global commerce and the laws that govern it.

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Essential Information

Studies in international business law cover the regulations and practices that govern international commerce. Courses generally cover laws regarding international banking, bankruptcy laws and taxation. Students also look at social and cultural issues such as human rights, and some programs allow them to choose a particular area in which to concentrate, such as international securities law or dispute resolution.

Students entering a joint Juris Doctor and Master of Laws program need a bachelor's degree with high enough test scores to garner acceptance into law school. For direct entry into a Master of Laws program, prior completion of a Juris Doctor is required.


Joint Juris Doctor (J.D.) and Master of Laws (LL.M.) in International Business Law

This dual degree program is designed to prepare individuals for international legal careers in a corporate or business setting. The intensive curriculum combines standard law classes with a comprehensive exposure to the regulatory framework that governs international business transactions. While the legal aspects of international business receive primary focus, attention is also placed on the cultural and sociological factors regarding business transactions outside the United States. These programs take around 3-4 years to complete.

Applying to one of these dual degree programs is usually a two-part process. Applicants first apply to the law school, meeting the standard admissions requirements. These include undergraduate transcripts, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation and a curriculum vitae. Upon being admitted, applicants are allowed to apply for admission to the joint degree program, usually after satisfactorily completing one semester of standard law school courses.

While there are generally no separate and specific admission requirements for the joint degree application, candidates can assume that competition will be intense. The ideal applicant has some international experience (i.e. a semester spent studying abroad) along with familiarity with a foreign language.

Unlike the majority of graduate degree programs, most of these programs do not require a thesis or dissertation as a degree requirement. Below are listed sample international business law course titles.

  • International bankruptcy
  • International banking regulations
  • Global investing
  • International business and United States taxation
  • Human rights and corporate responsibility

Master of Laws (LL.M.) in International Business Law

Most stand-alone LL.M. programs are intended for individuals already in possession of a J.D. degree. The coursework focuses on the rules and regulations governing international trade and commerce as well as international investing. Many programs allow degree candidates to tailor their curriculum in order to focus on one area of international business law, such as international securities law or dispute resolution. These programs can be completed in 2-3 years.

Applicants submit all relevant college transcripts, professional or academic recommendations and a statement of purpose, detailing the applicant's international business law goals and objectives. Fluency in a foreign language is necessary for domestic students, while proficiency in English is required for international students.

The required courses needed for this degree may depend on the specific nature of the student's academic focus. Students may take courses in:

  • Global securities
  • International financial markets
  • International dispute settlement
  • International labor and employment laws
  • Global antitrust law

Popular Career Options

Many graduates of these programs seek employment with multinational corporations or companies with offices in more than one country. Sample job titles are:

  • International tax consultant
  • Non-profit executive
  • International arbitration officer

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment opportunities for lawyers in all fields to increase by about 6% between the years 2018 and 2028 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also states that competition for jobs will be keen. The median annual salary for lawyers was $120,910 as of May 2018.

Continuing Education and Licensure Information

To practice law in the United States, an individual must be licensed. This process includes passing a state bar exam, which features a legal proficiency examination as well as an ethics exam. Individuals interested in practicing international law most likely need to complete a separate licensing exam for the country where they intend to work.

For legal professionals who want to continue their education, there is the Doctor of Juridical Science (JSD) degree. Programs are designed to train individuals in the methods and means of scholarly research for careers in academia. They are not intended for people who want to practice law, at home or abroad.

A joint Juris Doctor and Master of Laws is a lengthy and intense program designed for students who wish to work as lawyers in a multinational or global setting. Success in this field also requires some experience abroad or fluency in a second language.

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