Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Law Students Should Start Spacing Out

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Having difficulty obtaining employment?  Well now all you have to do is look to the skies!  That’s right!  The new wave (but not really that new) is in a special niche area of the law called air and space law.

As countries are gearing up to mine asteroids, we are going to find similar disputes arising as we did for oil and mineral rights on Earth.  Meagan Clark raises several legal issues in her article Outer Space May Rescue US Lawyers From A Saturated Job Market, which discussed the need to fill this practice area.  How can an asteroid be retained as property?  Where would the “deed” be filed?  If a piece of an asteroid chips off during mining and damages a satellite, is there a claim?  And if so, what court will have jurisdiction?  Not to mention, with the future attempt to colonize on Mars, who’s laws and government will the colonists adopt and how will issues be adjudicated?

If this is an area of the law you might be interested in specializing or just getting familiar with, there are several schools who have been quite successful.  For instance, the University of Mississippi Law School created a space law journal in 1973 and has offered courses in space law since the early 2000s.  J.D. students at this school are able to obtain an air and space law certificate.  The University of Nebraska in Lincoln offers space law courses as well as an LL.M in space, cyber and telecommunications law.  Further, there are international moot court and mock trial competitions focusing on space law specifically.

If the force is not with you to practice space law, just use this growing area as an example.  Look to up-and-coming trends in technology, government, and any other growing area where legal issues might arise.  If there are classes, take them.  If there is a certificate, get it (especially if it won’t cost you any extra in tuition).  Although employers fault law students for not having any practical experience, becoming an expert in a new, growing field is extremely valuable – especially during a recession.

To get more information about space law programs, check out Meagan Clark’s article HERE.

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