International Paths for JD Students

International JD studentThough most Duke Law students choose to launch their legal careers in the United States, a few start their practice abroad. And, during their three years at Duke Law, a large number of students work part or all of their summers abroad.

To recieve updates about the current international opportunities, please subscribe to the International Opportunities Listserv by clicking here. The website will ask you to enter your NetId and password. Once you log in, on the left pane, please click "subscribe" and enter your email address to be added to the listserv.

You may also contact Oleg Kobelev, Director of International Career Development, with any questions.

1L Summer Overseas

A number of Duke Law students obtain overseas summer employment during their 1L summer working with employers in private practice, NGOs, and other organizations. Whether for all or part of a summer or with a private or public interest organization, working abroad provides students with a unique and memorable experience. About 20-25 1Ls work abroad each summer, typically in private practice in countries such as Belgium, Germany, Korea, Switzerland, China, Japan, and Thailand. Students also have worked for public service organizations in countries including Ecuador, Peru, and South Africa.

Preparing for overseas summer employment

Self assessment:

We recommend that you first think carefully about your goals for the summer. Do you want to recuperate after a strenuous year, make as much money as possible, or stay close to your family? If so, working overseas may not be a good choice for you. On the other hand, if you want to gain some international legal experience that may enhance your marketability in international practice and can see yourself adjusting quickly to a new environment, you might consider working overseas.

Develop your resume:

Once you decide you want to work overseas, make sure your resume highlights your "international qualities." These may be prior study or work abroad, foreign or dual citizenship, language skills, or even international activities at Duke Law School. International activities may include membership in the International Law Society or other clubs with international orientation, language lunch tables, language classes, or service as an LLM mentor. Enrollment in the JD/LLM program should certainly be included. You should also include your expected attendance at a summer institute.

Relevant information for JD/LLMs, dual-degree, and students attending a Duke Law School summer institute

As part of the curriculum of the Duke Law School JD/LLM program, dual-degree students must attend a Duke Law School summer institute and hence can only work for five to seven weeks. As securing a position for half of the summer is frequently difficult, the International Studies Office and the Career Center have developed relationships with Duke Law School alumni and friends to facilitate the summer employment opportunities of dual-degree students attending a Duke Law School summer institute. Although priority is given to these students in finding overseas internships, other Duke Law students who voluntarily attend a summer institute may request assistance in finding an overseas summer internship. If a suitable position remains available, the International Programs office will submit resumes of students voluntarily attending a summer institute to potential employers. Please note that non-JD/LLM students who wish to avail themselves of such assistance must sign an honor pledge committing themselves to attending one of the summer institutes.

Term of summer institute: Duke Law School has a summer institute in Geneva that begins in early July and concludes in early August.

Type of employment: Many of the overseas alumni who offer summer internships practice in local firms. A few are with overseas offices of U.S. or international law firms. A small number of alumni are with international organizations and NGOs.

Locations of employment: For summer internships in Asia, employment opportunities are mostly with firms in China, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Thailand. For summer internships in Europe, employment opportunities are mostly with firms in Western Europe. Employment opportunities in Latin American countries are sometimes available.

Compensation: Compensation of overseas internships varies by employer and location. As you may expect, overseas firms and offices do not pay students as well as summer associates are paid in the United States. Usually students receive enough compensation to cover living expenses. Sometimes there is no pay, but housing will be provided. Public interest internships usually are unpaid but may be eligible for the Law School's Public Interest Law Foundation grants (PILF). The amount of the grant depends on how much money PILF raises this year and how many students will share it, among other criteria.

Finances: If you attend a summer institute, your student loan will cover your travel expenses to the overseas institute and will therefore cover your travel to take a summer position if it is to the same location. The Office of Financial Aid can provide more information on summer institute travel expenses.

Language skills: Students with language skills and international experience are obvious candidates for an overseas summer position. However, language skills are not prerequisites for all overseas jobs. An outgoing personality, adventurous spirit and curiosity about other cultures are equally important.

III. Overseas summer jobs for all other students

For students who are not enrolled in the dual-degree program and who will not attend a Duke Law School summer institute, most overseas employment opportunities are obtained through proactive letter writing to organizations of interest, through business or personal contacts and other means as are typically used to secure domestic summer employment. The Career Center has resources to help you identify and research employers with international opportunities. If you are interested in public interest opportunities, a great tool to get you started is the database of international summer resources (Duke NetID required)