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What is an international lawyer?

An international lawyer is a lawyer who specializes in the law differences between countries. All lawyers counsel their clients with legal advice, however, an international lawyer has one of the most demanding jobs in the legal realm due to the varying laws across the globe. Laws endorsed by the United Nations are considered, when two different countries have a dispute, in order to avoid conflicting laws between those countries.
The nature of differing jobs with an international lawyer varies with the area of work. For example, a company that is multinational would employ a lawyer familiar with the laws governing the countries in which its companies are located. An attorney working for the U.S. Government might work on a legal advisory body for a team of countries working towards diplomatic relations. If you are considering a career as an international lawyer, you might work with financial institutions, corporate entities, immigration, crime units, or acquisitions.

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What are the daily duties of an international lawyer?

Due to the wide, varying areas of international law, an international lawyer can work for governments, companies, or private individuals. The daily duties of an international lawyer would depend on the area in which that individual works. When choosing international law, be ready for a wide variance to your workday. Some days, you might not leave the office because you are busy drafting documents. On other days, you might find yourself in the courtroom. On others, you might be traveling to other countries where clients need representation.
Staying up to date of the most relevant and current laws of individual countries is a must. Good interpersonal communication skills are also needed, along with speaking two or more languages. Dealing with different types of people and cultures with an even temperament is also beneficial. International law is not for the sedentary, but rather self-motivated individuals who are constantly learning and evolving is a must.
What are the daily duties of an international lawyer?

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What is reciprocity and collective action in international law?

Reciprocity in international law is exactly as it sounds—equal treatment of behavior. If an entity or state behaves in a certain way, the other entity makes it clear that they will react with equal behavior. This encourages thoughtful reflection before quick action. Imposition of high tariffs is an example of reciprocity between states. During times of war, the treatment of prisoners of war is often treated with reciprocity between warring countries. Countries may agree to treat prisoners a certain way because they want their captured soldiers treated the same way. Read the detailed review here
Collective action is when several states collectively ban together to protest the actions of one particular state. The United Nations often imposes economic sanctions against countries that are behaving in a way not favored by the majority. Apartheid in South Africa was condemned by the United Nations and collective action was taken against that country in the 1980’s.

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Why should I specialize in international law?

An international lawyer commands some of the top paying jobs in the legal industry. These lawyers specialize in laws and issues that surround many different nations. These lawyers also represent other governments, companies, or law firms. An international lawyer ( ) is required to be licensed to practice law in that state. They must hold a current, valid law degree, have passed the bar examination of the state, and take additional training courses concerning the international laws and treaties pertaining to their practice area.
The international law attorney ( ) must assist their clients in navigating through the issues governed by that country’s laws. Issues such as immigration, criminal, or civil laws most often pertain to international treaties and contracts and the international lawyer must be familiar with the particulars of these laws.

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If I own a company in another country, should I hire an international lawyer?

A common problem for American expats in other countries is taxation. Many business owners find it difficult to stay abreast of both foreign tax laws and current changes in U.S. tax laws. An international tax attorney with foreign expertise ( ) can be of help. An international law attorney can advise business owners in taxation matters and business transactions. Aspects such as pricing, residency, and source income are taken into account with the knowledge of the separate laws of all countries involved.
The advice of taxation and business matters from an international law attorney when dealing with a foreign country is invaluable. Not all international law attorneys are highly placed officials, even though first appearances may suggest this. Many international lawyers ( ) charge the same as regular attorneys. You do not need an attorney who is familiar with the laws of a particular country, unless you have a specific need, because a majority of International Law will follow a similar pattern. However, the attorney you choose should have a global legal knowledge.

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How can an international law attorney help me with a patent?

If you find that you need help with an international patent, decide the geographical territory where you will want coverage. Areas, such as the European Union, have a special set of processes to obtain an international patent. You will need the application fees, an international law attorney with specialization in patents, and a patent application can be found here:
First, keep your invention a secret until the application is accepted. Next, apply for a foreign filing license with the U.S. Patent Office ( ). This is required by U.S. law. Next, find out the timing and fees requirements. Then, if possible, research in an online law library, the regulations in the other countries. Find out the manufacturing requirements. Some countries require that you manufacture within their borders within three years. Turn in all applications and pay all fees after ensuring that you have met all other requirements. The process may take many years to come to fruition. The advice of your international law attorney can be beneficial for expediting this process. Finally, ensure that your attorney specializes in international patent and trademark law. This attorney can assist you with all necessary paperwork and timelines.

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How is International Law Enforced?

International law is how countries deal with each other by adhering to a set of rules that all countries follow. There are three types of International Law: Public International Law, Private International Law, and Supranational Law ( ).
Public International Law is the relationship between international entities and sovereign states. In business, many companies hire attorneys familiar with the structure of international business entities in order to maximize profits and comply with IRS rules and regulations dealing with foreign investments.
Private International Law ( ) addresses questions pertaining to conflicts between jurisdictions in separate countries. An example of a need for an attorney qualified in private international law is when there is a custody dispute between parents who are legal citizens of separate countries.
Supranational Laws are a set of laws that sovereign states voluntarily agree to follow. Currently, the only globally accepted tribunals for supranational laws is the United Nations Security Council. In American history, the Articles of Confederation that united the 13 colonies was considered supranational law. You can read the full details here:

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Why do I need to hire an attorney who is familiar with international law?

With US businesses becoming global competitors, many CEO’s find that they need the expertise of an attorney who is familiar with the rules and regulations for the country or countries they are expanding to globally. An attorney who studies international law ( ) knows the ins and outs of dealing with governments from other countries and can provide companies with expertise and legal aspects that they might not be aware exist.
Dealing with both international tax laws and U.S. tax codes can seem overwhelming to a newly developing multinational corporation. Legal provisions for paying taxes are much more complicated that our Federal Tax Code ( ).

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What is international law?

If a treaty between two sovereign entities does not exist, many question how enforcement of any international law can be enforced. If an international law is not explicitly written out in a treaty, there are several different methods of “punishment” used for non-compliance such as reciprocity, collective action, and shaming. At first look, these forms of enforcement may seem weak or without merit, however, all three methods have been used successfully for many years and will continue to be used as the global world becomes smaller and smaller. Read more:
Individual sovereign entities and global groups have used all three methods of enforcement in order to persuade an entity to act differently, punish an entity that is blatantly disregarding the agreed rules of a treaty, or even bring about global awareness of an issue that may be common practice in a country. View the details here:

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How can shaming work in international law?

Shaming occurs when negative publicity and public statements of offending behavior are made know in order to shame a country into changing its laws or actions. Many states do not want negative publicity. Therefore, human rights atrocities have been addressed in this manner. Media attention puts pressure on the country to change by ultimately involving international organization to address the issue, aligning international grassroots movements on a particular issue, or giving a certain state’s population the political power needed to address issues and further actions. You can watch it here
A current example of the shaming tactic involved the use of child soldiers in groups located in Asia, Africa, and Latin America by the United Nations in 2010 Unfortunately, shaming does not always work. The entity that is the receiver of the shaming has to be motivated by the shaming and this is not always the case.

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About Leodis Matthews:

a Special Attorney with the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the Criminal Division, served as an Assistant US Attorney and was Senior Counsel on the Congressional Select Committee that investigated the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.