There are a variety of international courses offered at HLS, and your course load should reflect a general background in public international law, conflict of laws, and comparative law in addition to more specialized international topics.
If your interests are in international trade and investment, courses in international business transactions, international trade and export finance, intellectual property law, and international tax can be particularly helpful. Careers in international finance and development may benefit from basic courses in taxation, accounting, securities, corporate law and economics.
Harvard Law School offers more than 30 human rights courses including international humanitarian law, refugee and immigration law, international philanthropy, human rights clinical courses and human rights in Latin America and East Asia.
For those students desiring a career in the Foreign Service or foreign relations, particularly valuable courses include public international law, conflict management, comparative constitutional law and international negotiations, political systems, and international relations. Harvard Law School offers unique courses in International Childhood, Rights, and Globalization, War Crimes Prosecution, The Law of Climate Change, Church and State Global Perspectives, South Africa’s Bill of Rights and Topics in Islamic Law.
In addition to the coursework, professors are often well-connected in the government or inter-governmental organizations, and can provide crucial insights to opportunities in the field. For those interested in working for the government, courses in administrative law, antitrust law, international business transactions, criminal law, trade law, environmental law, intellectual property, securities and tax law can be preparation for securing a position with the government involving international transactional, criminal, trade, or prosecutorial work.
All students interested in international law should consider courses focusing on comparative legal systems. These courses are especially helpful for those interested in democracy building and the rule of law. Harvard Law School offers courses in The Role of Law in Chinese Society, Law and Religion in India, Law of the European Union and The Globalization of Law in a Historical Perspective.
Cross registration may allow you to take useful courses not available at HLS. For example, the Kennedy School of Government offers additional courses in human rights and the Harvard Business School offers courses in international project finance and European and Asia-Pacific business relations. Various graduate programs offer courses in Islamic legal systems, European law and East Asian legal studies, and Middle Eastern studies.
An opportunity to research or write for a professor on an international topic can help you develop perspectives on international policy, customs and doctrine that will be useful in many areas of international public service and can establish long-lasting relationships with professionals who have worked in the field. Clinical courses provide an opportunity to gain some valuable work experience in human rights, immigration and refugee law, comparative family law and trade related clinical advocacy.
While coursework is clearly important, going beyond the classroom is crucial. Read and learn about international law whenever time permits. Reading cases, articles, journals and books beyond those assigned in class can help you develop expertise in a specialized area of international law. Such knowledge can be useful during the interview process when asked to elaborate upon your skills and knowledge of international law.