International Law Focus Area

The International Law Focus Area provides students with an opportunity to achieve a level of expertise in international matters. Traditionally, the study of international law has been divided into two areas: public international and private international law. Public international law was concerned primarily with the relations between countries. Private international law was concerned primarily with transnational relations among individuals and non-state entities. However, this distinction is becoming increasingly blurred: matters thought to be within the purview of public international law, such as treaties, have increasingly focused on non-state actors and, conversely, developments in international business and trade are reshaping the relations of states.

Accordingly, the focus area attempts to ground a student in both the public and private aspects of international law. Each student is required to take the basic Public International Law course and International Business Transactions course. Public International Law introduces students to the legal principles governing the relationships of countries, such as the sources of international law, international dispute resolution, international organizations, human rights, and the use of force. International Business Transactions introduces students to the legal and business issues that may arise when a client engages in business abroad.

Students Who Should Take this Focus

The focus is designed for students who contemplate representing clients who operate in the transnational or international level. Most attorneys who practice in this area represent private clients who are engaged in transnational business transactions or who are involved in transnational disputes. Others (for example, those who practice in the area of human rights or international environmental law) represent clients or non-governmental organizations in their relations with the U.S. government or in their relations with the governments of foreign states or international tribunals. Still other attorneys assist governments in their foreign relations.

International Law Faculty

Career FacultyFocus Area
Tom Antkowiak International Human Rights Clinic, International Law of Human Rights
Mark Chinen International Trade, Public International Law
Margaret Chon International Intellectual Property, IP Law & Globalization Seminar
Carmen Gonzalez International Environmental Law
Won Kidane Immigration Law, Immigration Law Clinic, Transnational Litigation and Arbitration
Tayyab Mahmud Comparative Constitutional Law
Henry McGee International Environmental Law, Comparative Law: Latin America
Bob Menanteaux International & Foreign Law Research
Russell Powell Comparative Law: The Middle East
Ron Slye (Focus Area Chair) International Law of Human Rights, International Criminal Law, Adv. Topics in International Law
Adjunct FacultyFocus Area
Michael Shanahan Admiralty

Focus Area Requirements

Plan the completion of your focus area with a focus area tracking form.

Course Descriptions

International Law Curriculum

Foundational Courses (two courses required)

(If a student takes Public International Law and International Business Transactions as foundational courses, he/she can also take International Trade and count it as an elective. Likewise, a student who takes Public International Law and International Trade as foundational courses may count International Business Transactions as a focus area elective.)

Required Skills Component (at least one course required)

Elective Courses (at least three courses and a minimum of 8 credits required)

International Enrichment Opportunities

Center for Global Justice

The Center for Global Justice fosters multidisciplinary research, education, and advocacy about critical international legal issues, including human rights, dispute resolution, governance, development, security, and the environment. Through colloquiums, conferences, and publications, the Center actively engages with doctrinal and policy dimensions of key questions that confront international legal regimes. The Center works closely with the School of Law's international and comparative law programs, and aims to equip students with the knowledge and experience necessary to be leaders for justice in international legal affairs.

Study Abroad Opportunities

Global Justice Advocacy, a four-week course in Johannesburg, South Africa, co-sponsored by The Mandela Institute of the Wits Law School in South Africa offers courses in international humanitarian law, international criminal law and other topics. Courses are taught by faculty from Seattle University and the Wits Law School.

Seattle University School of Law, in partnership with Pacific McGeorge School of Law and University of Denver Sturm College of Law, will offer students the opportunity to study law in Guatemala in summer 2011.

While many study abroad programs teach courses in English that could have been offered in the United States, the Guatemala program will offer students the opportunity to study law in Spanish, to learn about Latin American law, to study with Latin American students, to take courses from Guatemalan law professors, and to complete an externship with a legal institution in Guatemala

International Human Rights Clinic

Seattle University School of Law established the first international human rights clinic in the Pacific Northwest, and one of the few such programs on the West Coast. The Clinic represents clients who have suffered human rights abuses, collaborates with non-governmental organizations in advocacy projects, and provides technical assistance to inter-governmental organizations. Recent projects--from Cambodia, Mexico, Suriname, Peru, and the U.S.--have involved torture, due process violations, international criminal law, and the rights of vulnerable groups such as indigenous populations and immigrants.  In the course of its various cases, the Clinic has recently submitted briefs to the Supreme Court of Peru, and argued before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica, as well as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, D.C. 

Summer Externships and Internships

The law school provides generous funding to students for summer internship placements overseas. Students may secure their own placement or take advantage of dedicated placements the school has established in Cambodia, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. The law school also has established externship programs with some of the premier international organizations in Europe in the areas of international criminal law and international environmental law. Students may work for these organizations and earn academic credit towards graduation. Students can search the Externship Site Database by geographic area to see all our approved international externships.

Germany Exchange

A semester exchange program with Bucerius Law School allows up to two SU law students to spend the fall 3L or 4L semester in Hamburg, Germany, earning up to 12 credits. Up to two German students may study at Seattle University School of Law per year.

Latin America Program

The Latin America Program conducts a range of activities at the School of law and elsewhere on matters of regional and global significance, granting SU law students the opportunity to engage with key leaders, scholars, and advocates from Latin America. The Program also promotes exchanges for law students and academics with leading Latin American universities. Such exchanges emphasize the importance of transnational education and relationships to confront hemispheric challenges.

Seattle University Albers School of Business and Economics

All law students are allowed to cross-register for 6 quarter credits in the Albers School of Business and Economics, which translates into 4 semester credits at the law school. Examples of courses with an international focus are listed below. Please be aware that some of the courses have significant prerequisites that it may be difficult for law students to meet. Note also that the Albers School is run on the quarter system, so 3-credit courses in the business school translate into 2 law school credits.

Finance for International Business (FINC 546) (3 quarter credits / 2 semester credits)
International Business Policy and Strategy (MGMT 589) (3 quarter credits / 2 semester credits)
International Economics (ECON 573) (3 quarter credits / 2 semester credits)
International Management (MGMT 573) (3 quarter credits / 2 semester credits)


Brooke D. Coleman
Vice Dean for Academic Affairs and Fredric C. Tausend Professor of Law
Sullivan Hall 210I