On International Internships

Post Authored By: Teresa Dettloff

As a law student, I was privileged to have the opportunity to spend three months working as an intern abroad. Here’s why I think you should do the same:


Working abroad provides an invaluable perspective, particularly as an attorney. I had the privilege of working in the United Nations Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The international criminal justice system is far different from what I was used to in the U.S. For example, the proceedings often take years to complete. The rules of evidence are entirely different, and the proceedings are translated into multiple languages simultaneously. Working in a different legal system lends you the opportunity to experience how things are done in another part of the world, and gives you a chance to demonstrate your adaptability. An experience like this will give you invaluable insight.


Every area of the law has a global component given the nature of the world today. If you are a family law attorney, you may get a Hague Petition case, where a client is seeking the return of children who have crossed international boundaries. If you practice in health law, you may deal with the repercussions of pandemics. If you work for corporations, you may deal with international trade regulations or international clients. Working in a foreign jurisdiction provides you with ways to market yourself as an attorney prepared to step into any role in an interconnected world. You are demonstrating your ability to walk into a foreign jurisdiction, learn new rules and laws, and execute work product.


Working in a foreign jurisdiction may reveal additional career options that you had not previously considered. It may connect you to exciting opportunities, or give you a goal to work toward in the future. Further, an experience abroad is a great talking point in future interviews. It is a great way to demonstrate your adaptability and will set you apart from other candidates.

The best way to find an international internship opportunity is to define the type of work you would like to do and look for either an international organization that performs the type of work that you are interested in or a firm or company with offices in an area of the world that you would like to experience. Keep in mind that given the nature of working abroad, securing an internship of this nature requires several months of planning in advance in most cases. Fortunately, many international organizations will assist with obtaining visas for longer stays. Consistently research available opportunities and cast the net wide. You will also want to research housing, transportation, and potential sources of funding, such as scholarships and grants.


While every internship or clerkship provides you with the opportunity to connect and network, an international internship as a law student connects you with likeminded people from around the globe. The more connections in the legal community the better. Working abroad can expand your network in an exponential way.

About the Author:

Teresa Detloff

Teresa Dettloff is an associate at Brennan Burtker LLC, focusing her practice on medical malpractice defense. Teresa is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where she served as a lead article editor for the law journal. Teresa currently serves as a member of the advocacy committee for the United Nations Association Chicago chapter.

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