Over the past 50 years, the transnational regulation of persons, capital, markets, and power has progressed to such an extent that today practically every subject taught as part of the “domestic” legal curriculum has a transnational, international, or comparative legal dimension. Many of these sub-regimes are the subject of specialized courses or seminars. The basic survey course on international law reflects this “internationalization” of law, with the possibility of covering many topics once seen as subject only to “domestic jurisdiction.”
NYU’s international law courses are divided into three sub-groups: Comparative and Foreign Law, International Law, and International Litigation and Arbitration. Each of these in turn embrace a multitude of subjects. In addition to the extensive curriculum in New York City, NYU Law Abroad offers specially-designed courses in Buenos Aires, Paris, and Shanghai.
Courses identified as dealing with “international law” address traditional “public law” topics, such as the actions of states and interstate organizations, so-called “private international law” (dealing with the regulation of persons or property), or modern regimes that blur such distinctions, such as courses on “global governance” or the World Trade Organization. The category also includes courses that focus on specific types of cross-border transactions, such as project finance or sovereign debt offerings. In addition, there are specialized courses on international topics such as human rights, environmental law, and investment law.
“Comparative and foreign law” courses deal with the foreign law of a particular jurisdiction, region, or religion or compare international and foreign rules with respect to a particular topic (such as courses on international and comparative antitrust or comparative intellectual property).
“International litigation and arbitration” courses address how U.S. courts handle cases having a transnational element, the rules governing the arbitration of transnational contractual disputes or those involving foreign investment, or less formal methods for resolving international disputes.
While some students anticipate practicing in only one of international law’s various sub-specialties, the typical JD graduate finds unexpected focus areas in post-graduation practice and many over time engage in various ‘careers’ in law. Accordingly, for interested JD students it is wise to take full advantage of the breadth of NYU’s rich and diverse offerings in this field. In addition, since a good international lawyer needs to be, first and foremost, a good lawyer with a solid foundation in the finely honed doctrine and techniques of his or her own legal system, even prospective “international lawyers” need a very solid grounding in U.S. law. Accordingly, all students, even those aspiring to specialize in international law, should take courses in corporations, taxation, evidence, and federal courts.
The good international lawyer, irrespective of eventual specialty within the field, should also acquire a cosmopolitan training in international law’s most significant sub-regimes. To give an example: while an NYU student who aspires to be a human rights practitioner should of course take advantage of NYU’s wide number of specialized human rights offerings, including clinics, the most effective and creative human rights lawyers are often those who are also versed in the trade and investment regimes, have taken a course or seminar on comparative or foreign law (the better to see how international law may or may not penetrate into national law), and have immersed themselves in at least one course involving “private” international law (such as conflicts of law, international business transactions, transnational civil litigation, or commercial arbitration).
Find out more about International Law at NYU Law.