About International & Comparative Law

International and comparative law involves a wide variety of legal work driven by the increasing globalization of the world's economies. A growing number of U.S.-based lawyers are practicing international law in law firms, corporate legal departments, nonprofits, and government agencies. Although most jobs are found in large cities, this, too, is changing. Jobs may require an expertise in public and/or private international law. Alternatively, they may require a strong background in comparative law, namely knowledge of how other legal systems are organized and the substantive law of other countries.

Many international lawyers work in large law firms that have departments specializing in international trade, investment, and finance. International lawyers in the private sector most frequently represent foreign companies seeking to do business in the United States and domestic corporations doing business abroad. Lawyers representing foreign clients provide a wide range of business services, including the formation of business entities; compliance with federal, state, and local U.S. tax laws; employment law; environmental and regulatory requirements; intellectual property; product or service distribution; and all other aspects of establishing and running businesses in the United States. Lawyers representing domestic clients interested in doing business abroad draft contracts and agreements; open branch offices and subsidiaries; structure foreign operations; ensure intellectual property protection including patents, trademarks, and tradenames; supervise international litigation and arbitration; and conduct international financial transactions.

Other international lawyers work for corporations with international interests, including accounting and consulting firms and financial institutions. And yet others work for government agencies such as the Department of State, Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, or the International Trade Commission; for international governmental organizations such as the United Nations or the World Bank; and for international non-governmental organizations such as the Human Rights Watch.

International Law is a competitive area, and jobs are highly sought after. Language skills and business experience are valuable, as are strong interpersonal communications skills and an interest in working with people from other cultures.


Note: Whether a particular course is scheduled depends on faculty availability and student demand. View the Course Descriptions for more information about each course and when it's offered.

Core/Foundation Courses

These are the basic courses for the specialty. An employer is likely to expect a student interested in the specialty to take at least two of the following :

Recommended Courses

Students interested in this practice area should consider including courses from the "International Law" area and the "Comparative Law" area as electives. 

We also offer a Concentration for students interested in focusing in this area. See International and Comparative Law Concentration for information on the requirements.

International Law Courses

Comparative Law Courses

Study Abroad

For those interested in the practice of law related to Latin America, we offer a dual degree in Latin American Studies.

Curriculum Questions

For particular International Law curriculum questions, contact Jason Yackee.

Centers, Internships & Externships

Summer Internship in Bangkok, Thailand

The UW Law School and Thammasat University Faculty of Law offer a six-week unpaid summer internship program in Bangkok, Thailand, that takes place during the month of July and the first two weeks of August. Most of the time is spent working in an international law firm in Bangkok.

Before the internship begins, participants spend one or two days attending lectures and field trips organized by Thammasat University law faculty as an introduction to Thai law. Participants are not required to speak Thai.

Learn more about the Summer Internship in Bangkok, Thailand »

For more information, contact Sumudu Atapattu.

Internship in Vietnam

Summer internships are available for 1L and 2L students in Vietnam at an international law firm.

Learn more about the Internship in Vietnam »

For more information, contact Sumudu Atapattu.

Internship in India

The summer internship program in India was launched in 2009 and is coordinated by the Global Legal Studies Center. There are seven institutions in India that accept our students for summer internships - these institutions range from law firms to NGOs based in Delhi, Jaipur and Mumbai. The students typically negotiate the start date as well as the duration of the internship with the organization in question. There is a formal application process.

Learn more about the Internship in India »

For more information, contact Sumudu Atapattu.

East Asian Legal Studies Research Center

The East Asian Legal Studies Center continues the Law School's long history of involvement in international and comparative law with a variety of programs and activities related to the people and academic institutions of East and Southeast Asia.

The Center formalizes and increases the Law School's academic interaction with universities, government ministries, and the private sector, and is active in advanced law studies, course development and library enhancement, providing student opportunities for work and research, scholarly exchanges, professional programs and outreach.

Global Legal Studies Center

The Global Legal Studies Center is a partnership between the University of Wisconsin Law School and the Division of International Studies and Programs at the University of Wisconsin - Madison to promote the understanding of international, transnational, and comparative legal systems, processes, and regimes.

The Center supports research in international legal studies, organizes workshops and conferences, expands connections with scholars and institutions in the U.S. and overseas, deepens links with international programs on campus, and shares expertise with constituencies in Wisconsin and worldwide.

Externships for International Law

Second and third-year law students can receive academic credit, through the Law Externship course, for working on matters involving international law at organizations such as the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Chief Counsel, and many other nonprofit organizations and government agencies.

Learn more about Externships »

Contact Externship Director Erin McBride for more information.

Student Organizations & Related Activities

Students involved in student activities and organizations are often strong job candidates. Employers look for students who show leadership, public service, and community involvement.

For a full list of student organizations at UW Law, view the Student Organizations, Journals, & Activities.


Here are some of the faculty and academic staff who teach or have an interest in this subject area:

In addition to our full-time faculty, the Law School's adjunct faculty members — prominent practicing lawyers and judges — bring their specialized knowledge and experience to the classroom. Filter by "Adjunct" in the Law School Directory for a full list.

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