What Do International Law Lawyers Do?
International law lawyers are experts in the area of law that regulates how nations interact with each other and how companies and individuals interact across borders. International law is a combination of accepted customs and norms, treaties, agreements, tribunals, resolutions, court decisions and writings, and more.
Some lawyers who specialize in international law work not with individuals or corporations but in the public sphere. They work for intergovernmental organizations, non-profits, or governments. They work in international development, human rights, and diplomacy.
Other lawyers in international law work with individuals and companies with legal issues that span borders. They may work for large, multinational companies, American companies that deal with businesses in other countries, or individuals with international disputes, such as refugees or those seeking political asylum. Many focus on a specific type of law, like taxes, contracts, or human rights.
Do I Need an International Law Lawyer?
Most people never need a lawyer specializing in international law. Governments, worldwide organizations, and large corporations often need experts in this area of the law, but individuals and businesses that operate only in the U.S. rarely do.
There are some instances in which someone may need to rely on the services of an international law lawyer, most related to business:
- You’re buying or selling real estate in another country.
- You have family in another country and must deal with their estate.
- Your company does business internationally and must draft contracts across borders.
- You want to start doing business with a foreign company or open a business in another country.
- You have contract disputes with a company or individual in another country.
- You need to pay taxes in another country, or you’re not sure if you do.
- You have come across privacy issues with information storage that extends across international borders.
- You have a case for a civil lawsuit, such as a personal injury, against a person or business in another country.
- You have been a victim of a crime or accused of a crime in another country.
- You’re trying to help a family member emigrate from another country, or you have your own issues seeking asylum or refuge.
How Can an International Law Lawyer Help Me?
While most people never need the assistance of an international law lawyer, if you interact with people and companies in other countries, they can be a big help:
- Explain laws and jurisdiction
International law is one of the more complex areas of law, especially when you take into account the laws of individual countries. A lawyer specializing in this field can explain to you the laws that apply in your situation and the correct jurisdictions.
- Conduct due diligence
If you want to work with a foreign entity or start up a company in another country, you may be going into the situation blind. A lawyer can research and create due diligence reports on countries, markets, and foreign companies to help you make better choices.
- Save money
A good lawyer will help you draft contracts and handle international taxes in your favor. Without their expertise, you may end up paying more than you need to or getting cheated by another business or individual.
- Make cultural connections
Doing business across borders is complicated by laws but also by different cultures. An international law lawyer knows the laws and can explain cultural norms to know how to interact with people and avoid faux pas.
- Resolve disputes
Working internationally can be very complicated, especially when something goes wrong. Trying to solve a business, contract, or trade dispute across borders is difficult, but a lawyer can make it easier.
- Start civil lawsuits
If you suffer an injury or accident in a foreign country, you can file a civil lawsuit to seek damages, but it isn’t straightforward. A lawyer expert in international law can help you determine jurisdiction and get the case started, abroad or in the U.S. if possible. If litigating in another country, an international lawyer can work with the foreign lawyers on your behalf.
How to Choose an International Law Lawyer
International law is extremely complex, so if you have a legal matter involving another country, don’t settle for less than a true expert. Look for a firm or individual attorney that only handles international cases.
Narrow your search further to hire a lawyer who specializes in cases like yours. For instance, if you have a personal injury case to make in another country, you need a litigator experienced in foreign cases. If your issue is related to your business, contracts, and taxes, choose an international law expert who works with businesses. Immigration lawyers are best for migrants, refugees, and visas or citizenship.
When you find lawyers with the right area of specialty for your situation, interview each firm before you make a choice. You should feel good about their experience, the results they have gotten for past clients, and the time and resources they have to provide you.
International law lawyers offer unparalleled expertise in foreign matters, both for individuals and companies. If you have a legal situation that crosses borders, rely on one of these professionals to guide your steps and provide advice.