International Business Lawyer: Job Description and Requirements

International business lawyers require significant formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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International business lawyers advise, advocate for or represent a client's business interests or issues when it involves two or more countries. They must be licensed lawyers, and many have specialized education or knowledge of international business law. International business lawyers must be knowledgable about different country's laws, policies and agreements pertaining to business.

Essential Information

International business lawyers advocate on business issues that involve two or more sovereign countries. Many international business lawyers have studied international and comparative law and global economies, and some have completed Master of Laws programs in international business law. Like all lawyers, international business lawyers must have earned a law degree from an accredited school and passed the bar examination in the state where they wish to practice.

Required Education Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree
Licensing Must pass state bar examination for licensure
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% for all lawyers
Median Salary (2015)* $115,820 for all lawyers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Job Description

An international business lawyer represents client's business issues involving two or more independent countries. Issues can include international trade law, securities and banking. The international business lawyer must be familiar with each country's laws and policies, as well as the international agreements that govern trade and business law.

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Undergraduate Education

A bachelor's degree is required to become an international business lawyer. There is no formal pre-law degree program, but courses in business, history, philosophy and economics are helpful. Any major is acceptable, but law school admissions look for a diverse undergraduate program.

Law School

Most law school admission departments look at college or university grade point averages and the results of the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to evaluate students for admission. Most law schools have required courses in the first year, but students can take elective business courses in the second and third years. Courses cover corporate business law, securities law and antitrust law.

Master of Laws (LL.M.)

Some law schools offer a master's program in international business law. Students specialize in issues important to international business lawyers. Courses include such topics as international finance, global commerce and customs law. A master's degree program, though optional, gives an international business attorney a competitive advantage.

The Bar Examination

Upon graduation from an American Bar Association-accredited law school, candidates take the bar examination offered by the state in which they intend to practice law. Generally, the examination is a 2-day process and includes questions on criminal law, constitutional law, property law and contract law. Most states require a separate examination on professional responsibility.


A qualified international business lawyer can find a job at a law firm that practices business or corporate law. If one party to a case is from another country, the case is considered international and may require an international business attorney.

Many jobs are available in the U.S. government. The federal departments of justice and state and the World Trade Organization offer the attorney experience in international business law, which then can be transferred to private practice.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 6% increase in jobs for lawyers between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also reported that the median annual salary for lawyers was $115,820 in May of 2015.

Aspiring international business lawyers must first complete an accredited law program, and pass the bar exam. Some law schools also offer a master's program in international business law for graduates of J.D. programs. International business lawyers can work for law firms or for the U.S. government, among other organizations.

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