When you study international law, you gain insight into the global legal system – and that’s a more important consideration now than it has ever been. In today’s hyper-connected world, virtually every decision that a major corporation makes sends ripples through the international community – and the same goes for governing bodies around the world.
Take the recent case brought against Apple by the European Union. Ireland was ordered to collect a staggering £11bn in back taxes from the tech giant. In a single case, you have a U.S.-based corporation enjoying special status with a specific European nation. And that European nation is part of a larger conglomerate of nation states with their own overarching laws and regulations. It’s a complex case and a jurisdictional nightmare.
So who has the final say in a matter like this? If you’re armed with a degree in international law, a case like this could be yours to handle and you may very well just be the person whose arguments make legal history. And with such high stakes, it goes without saying that corporations and governments around the world are eager to employ legal professionals with a strong global focus.
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An international law degree opens doors around the world
Now think about the ramifications of a decision made in Ireland, a country with a population of well under 5 million people. The final ruling affects the E.U. (population: 742.5 million) and the U.S. (population: 319 million). It is undoubtedly a massively important decision with a truly global impact.
But this is standard fare when you work for an international law firm. As Robert Volterra, partner and principal of Volterra Fietta (an international law firm) told The Guardian:
“Everyone is affected by war in the Middle East, the transmission of Russian gas to western Europe, and piracy in the South China Sea. There are treaties regulating almost every human activity, including child custody, the content of breakfast cereals, and what compensation travellers receive if an airline loses luggage.”
The world has never been as interconnected as it is today. The decisions of governments and major corporations affect countries and companies around the world. This makes it more important than ever that today’s legal professionals have a strong understanding of international law.
Leading law schools with an international focus
Needless to say, governments and corporations are eager to hire the best and the brightest legal professionals. If you’re considering pursuing a degree in international law, here are some of the best law schools in Europe with an international focus:
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The Faculty of Law at University of Helsinki was established when the university was founded in 1640. It is the leading institute of legal research and education of Finland, which instantly places it on a short list of the most prestigious law schools in the world. Also, the University of Helsinki has been ranked 56 in the Shanghai Ranking, making it the second best university in the Nordic regime.
Altogether, the faculty works with more than 2,400 students each year. This includes graduate-level students conducting research, and there is a significant contingent of international students as well. Teaching and research at the Faculty of Law is organised according to discipline, and there are around 140 teachers and researchers active here throughout the year.
Law degrees at the University of Helsinki can be completed in Finnish, Swedish or English. The LLM diploma programme was developed as an English-language course in 1991, and this continues to be one of the most sought-after courses at the university.
Today, there are two masters programs available: A Finnish and Swedish LLM programme which focuses mainly on Finnish national law and a master’s degree programme in international business law taught entirely in English.
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Ranked as a ‘Top International Law School’ by the American Social Science Research Network (SSRN), Tilburg Law School is a leading choice for international students eager to earn a globally-focused law degree.
This is one of the leading law schools in the Netherlands – or in all of Europe for that matter. It’s regularly singled out for the quality of its staff, as well as for the depth and variety of its programmes.
The university’s Bachelor of Global Law is taught in English and teaches students to tackle challenges from multiple vantage points. Classrooms are exceptionally diverse, with more than half of all students hailing from abroad. The university also offers ten different master’s degree programmes in law – eight of which are taught in English.
The University of Antwerp is one of the most highly esteemed centres of higher learning in the world. On the whole, it ranks well within the top 200 universities globally according to Times Higher Education. It is also a top contender in the Academic Rankings of World Universities.
For international students, the primary draw here is the newly launched Master of Laws (LL.M.), which is taught in English. Students who already possess a basic law degree can transition directly to the Master of Laws programme. It is a two-year problem solving-oriented programme that defies convention with an outside-the-box approach.
Brussels is a prestigious place to earn a degree, to say the least. A master’s degree in law from the University of Antwerp has serious currency and opens a myriad of opportunities for graduates.
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The University of Fribourg traces its roots all the way back to the 16th century. In fact, it was here in Fribourg, Switzerland, where the Academy of Law was founded less 200 years later. The current Fribourg Law Faculty is actually a continuation of that early institution. Needless to say, this is one of the world’s most prestigious places to earn a law degree.
The faculty offers a wide range of international business law specialisations that have been tailored to meet current employers’ needs. In other words, these are career-oriented study programmes that are highly sought after.
There are two primary courses available for international students. The first is an LLM in international business law, which was developed under close consultation with legal departments of multinational corporations and prominent Swiss companies. Students can also pursue an LLM / Executive Programme dual degree.
Leiden Law School ranks first in the Netherlands and 24th internationally according to the QS World University Rankings. As such, this is a top choice for law students from around the world. It is well-known both for research and teaching, the pair of which cover the breadth of international law and extend well beyond the boundaries of the Netherlands.
The law school has a strong international focus, and each year between 500 and 600 international students come to Leiden.
It maintains several exchange agreements with partner universities that are located throughout Europe and beyond. With that in mind, a strong international focus pervades the law programmes available here.