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What kind of law should I practice if I want to help people AND travel the world?

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Just looking into what kind of courses to sign up for.  I'm interested in social justice, but would LOVE a job where I get to travel to lots of countries.  The weirder the better.  Any insights?

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This seems like a troll if you've been around here, but if not, then I apologize. This is a too good to be true kind of goal. Think about it from the perspective of the employer. Who is going to hire someone to do all this (i.e., travel the world helping people that can't pay for the help)? You have to be extremely talented. That said, I don't think there is ambiguity on what courses to sign up for. There are likely courses on international public law and international criminal law at your school. These would at least signal an interest. Anything in the public law/international public law/criminal law would be helpful. There are also likely designated human rights courses. 

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Just looking into what kind of courses to sign up for.  I'm interested in social justice, but would LOVE a job where I get to travel to lots of countries.  The weirder the better.  Any insights?

If you want to help people? Study law courses, get qualified. Any area of law, you are helping people - whether it's helping them build a better tax shield, helping them be safe from marauding rapists, helping them against the overbearing power of the state that thinks they're a marauding rapist, helping them buy their home, helping them file their refugee claim. Lawyers are skilled professionals who identify how to do things that their clients want done, but don't know how.

 

That may seem a smarmy comeback, but honestly, if people could everything, they wouldn't need lawyers. Everything you do as a professional is helping someone - you may consider some of them to be less morally praiseworthy than other forms of help.

 

To get more into your post: you're describing a fantasy. There are a very limited number of lawyers who travel the world and do 'cool stuff', and several of them are household names - they're that rare. 

 

That said, I do have some great news for you - I have a family member who's on that path. (Not a household name, but authored books, worked in international institutions, done death row appeals in the States, and is currently helping refugees with their rights). How? They're on vacation. Day to day they do things like defend airlines from compensation claims, because the plane taxied to the ramp two minutes earlier than needed for the passengers to qualify for cash. 

 

So if you're prepared to spend several years between graduating and getting your first pay check, and if you're prepared to be personally attacked by government ministers for being extremely inconvenient, and you're prepared to spend most of your free time doing an unpaid job, while monday-friday 8-6 you do corporate litigation - good news, it's not unheard of :)

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Work for legal aid helping the poor and desperate, and then take your annual vacation to some other part of the world. The laws of Canada don't apply to the rest of the world, and straight out of law school your services aren't worth much in the international sphere. 

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You're going to get snide replies because your question is both ridiculous and also well canvassed, in equal measure. There's no kind of law you can study, in Canada, that is going to make it worth anyone's while to fly you around the world so you can help poor oppressed people in a variety of nations that do not follow Canada's laws (which is to say, all of them) and which do not recognize your credentials as a lawyer (again, all of them). Law is jurisdictional. Becoming a lawyer in Canada gives you great tools which you can use to help people here in Canada. But those tools are meaningless outside the country, and the skills you learn are only semi-transferable. As I've said many, many, many times. If you want to travel around the world helping people, become a dentist, or an engineer, or something similar. Because teeth and physics work the same everywhere. The law doesn't.

 

If you want to use your skills to meaningfully help people who need help, there's plenty of need in Canada. I'd be pleased to follow with a list of recommended courses / areas that might assist you, there. But you'll have to get used to the idea of traveling on your own dime and for pleasure. Because the odds that anyone is going to want your help, internationally, as a lawyer are vanishingly small. If you really don't foresee pursuing a career in Canada, and you need to travel as a component of your career plans, then seriously consider finding another profession.

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Just looking into what kind of courses to sign up for.  I'm interested in social justice, but would LOVE a job where I get to travel to lots of countries.  The weirder the better.  Any insights?

 Bunch of downers on here eh? I say follow your dreams. I know a few people who've worked overseas so it's possible but it's competitive to get that work. I know two lawyers who went to work for CSIS. One of them lived in Central America for a while. I think you write an exam to get in there and I don't know that they work as lawyers, I know a criminal lawyer who works in the Hague doing something. I think there might be more opportunity for business law than human rights (more $$ certainly). I know a couple of big firm corporate lawyers who travel internationally but I don't think they help real people. I also know a couple lawyers who worked in the Caribbean but one of them might have been there as an accountant. Take International Law and Conflict of Laws. Look at international internships too. Also, do you speak another language? Because that usually helps. 

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Just looking into what kind of courses to sign up for.  I'm interested in social justice, but would LOVE a job where I get to travel to lots of countries.  The weirder the better.  Any insights?

 

 

Try looking into positions with the government, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Maybe you can get posted with an embassy abroad? There's also all sorts of international institutions where having a legal background could be very helpful/enable you to travel (think UN, and others). There's also joining the Canadian Forces as a Legal Officer. 

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I know a couple of big firm corporate lawyers who travel internationally but I don't think they help real people. 

 

Just because someone is helping a company doesn't mean they're not helping "real people" as well. At the very least you're helping the company's owners. On the other end, you may be helping a publicly traded company, helping millions of people at once. 

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Just because someone is helping a company doesn't mean they're not helping "real people" as well. At the very least you're helping the company's owners. On the other end, you may be helping a publicly traded company, helping millions of people at once. 

 

Plus, you know, everyone who earns their living working for those corporations, and the families those people support...

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I know a number of senior criminal lawyers who have gone on to do significant human rights work in other countries. Often that consists of supplying another country with Canadian expertise on due process - setting up a tribunal or assisting with the prosecution or defence in whatever passes for a court system there.

 

Note the use of the term "senior". There are very few students who begin their careers doing international work. These positions do exist - you need to speak multiple other languages, have exceptionally high grades and EC experience with things like NGOs or the UN, have the money to work for free to get known and "in" - that is how most of them get started.

 

The rest of us have to work our way up through experience, connections, and years and years of a proven track record and reputation. It takes time and dedication.

 

If this is really what you want, criminal law might be a good area to look into. Be prepared to learn and work for about a decade before it potentially goes anywhere.

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As someone who travels the world for work, I am also going to be a debbie downer here.  When you are 20 or 22 years old, it sounds fantastic to be able to jet around the world on someone else's dime.  I'm sure that you imagine tacking a few days on at the end of a work trip to sightsee or whatever.  I did this on my first several trips for work and loved it.  The reality though is that the novelty wears off quickly.  You are exhausted and you can't tack on sightseeing days because you have other obligations.  

 

Although it isn't always the case, I'm sure that most international travel is not done by very junior people.  By the time you are senior enough in your career that you are in a position for international travel, you may also have kids, who make work travel way more stressful than pleasurable--coordinating schedules with your partner before you go, arranging childcare, missing out on things, stressing about things going smoothly in your absence, etc.  Also, by the time you are senior enough for international travel, you are paid well enough that you can comfortably pay for your own travel and go wherever you want to go (not wherever you are being sent).

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I honestly don't know anyone personally in my cohort (so almost 10 year calls) who travels internationally regularly for work. I know people who travel around Canada a lot, and people do go to the US fairly regularly, but not that much international travel. There are people I know of who do that, but I don't think it's that common.

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This seems like a troll if you've been around here, but if not, then I apologize. This is a too good to be true kind of goal. Think about it from the perspective of the employer. Who is going to hire someone to do all this (i.e., travel the world helping people that can't pay for the help)? You have to be extremely talented. That said, I don't think there is ambiguity on what courses to sign up for. There are likely courses on international public law and international criminal law at your school. These would at least signal an interest. Anything in the public law/international public law/criminal law would be helpful. There are also likely designated human rights courses. 

 

Not a troll.  I figured the government might have some positions that would require a legal education that involved travel.  Refugee issues, environmental issues, maybe some criminal....I posted because I thought some people might know of some jobs that were had.  I should point out that money is not a motivator for me. 

 

Cheers!

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Maybe try becoming a flight attendant. You'll be helping people everyday while traveling around the world!

 

That's a great idea!

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That said, I do have some great news for you - I have a family member who's on that path. (Not a household name, but authored books, worked in international institutions, done death row appeals in the States, and is currently helping refugees with their rights). How? They're on vacation. Day to day they do things like defend airlines from compensation claims, because the plane taxied to the ramp two minutes earlier than needed for the passengers to qualify for cash. 

 

So if you're prepared to spend several years between graduating and getting your first pay check, and if you're prepared to be personally attacked by government ministers for being extremely inconvenient, and you're prepared to spend most of your free time doing an unpaid job, while monday-friday 8-6 you do corporate litigation - good news, it's not unheard of :)

 

That was always the plan.  But I thought there might be some government positions that would need a Canadian lawyer....

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As someone who travels the world for work, I am also going to be a debbie downer here.  When you are 20 or 22 years old, it sounds fantastic to be able to jet around the world on someone else's dime.  I'm sure that you imagine tacking a few days on at the end of a work trip to sightsee or whatever.  I did this on my first several trips for work and loved it.  The reality though is that the novelty wears off quickly.  You are exhausted and you can't tack on sightseeing days because you have other obligations.  

 

Although it isn't always the case, I'm sure that most international travel is not done by very junior people.  By the time you are senior enough in your career that you are in a position for international travel, you may also have kids, who make work travel way more stressful than pleasurable--coordinating schedules with your partner before you go, arranging childcare, missing out on things, stressing about things going smoothly in your absence, etc.  Also, by the time you are senior enough for international travel, you are paid well enough that you can comfortably pay for your own travel and go wherever you want to go (not wherever you are being sent).

 

Haha I'm almost 40, not having kids, and understand work enough to know about exhaustion (I've opened and run 3 restaurants).  I'm not interested in sighseeing; I've done enough of that in my life, but love being plunged into other cultures and cities....And I speak spanish.....

 

What I was really trying to figure out was if there were any positions that would need travel, perhaps something in immigration or environmental law..... 

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There can be a lot of international travel when practicing IP. This is especially true for PM(NOC) cases where you go to the witnesses to cross-examine them. It just so happens that a lot of the worlds experts on various science things are in Europe, so there can be a lot of travel there.

 

A lot of clients who want Canadian Patents are also spread throughout the World - so you can end up doing a lot of international travel for business development etc. 

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