Some college graduates and law students dream about becoming international attorneys. They picture themselves jetting around the globe from client meetings to international conferences. Rarely, though, does the glamor match the responsibilities. International law involves more time researching differences among national laws than visiting exotic locales.
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The term international attorney can apply to any number of legal practices. They can be as narrow as being counsel specialized on identical rules applicable in different countries; although few lawyers would qualify under that definition. Or the counsel's practice could involve international matters, making every lawyer eligible for the title.
As a practical matter, an international attorney could focus his or her practice on a similar body of rules valid in several countries. Within that definition, international law covers three distinct areas: dinner jackets, long dresses and dinner reservations are not required for any of them; but a good understanding of international treaties is.
The first area, conflict of law, also called private international law, addresses conflicts between private entities, whether it be individuals or corporations. Company A in the United States intends to sue Company B in the Ukraine, and there are questions to be answered such as which jurisdiction should hear the dispute and which jurisdiction's law should be applied. There are contracts to be read, precedents to be cited and so on.
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