Space Law Careers

This following is portions of a career worksheet provided at NASA Space Law Network Career sessions this fall. This section will be built out to provided many more resources, videos, and other information. 

Most space lawyers don’t practice “space law” even though they’re impacted by it.

What are space lawyers practicing?

• Transactional Law
• Procurement
• Export Compliance/Control
• Administrative Law

Who does use “Space Law” daily?

• Policy Directors
• Legislative Liaisons
• Academia

How can I grow interest, curriculum, and opportunity at my school to aid in my career development?

  • Space Law Societies / International Law Student Association Sections
  • IISL Manfred Lachs Moot Court Competition, run by the International Institute of Space Law

Tips and Strategies

These strategies benefit students and new professionals while they’re in school – but you should continue these things years into your career.

The most successful individuals have their online profiles and CV always at the ready, are consistently seeking mentorship and advice, and are always looking for opportunities to grow. Don’t forget your Career Development Office. Use every resource they offer.

Look for mentors: Whether it be an alum, a former supervisor, or a student further in your program it’s important to build relationships and find a sounding board who is out there working in the field. You don’t even have to call them mentor, but seek connections with professionals who are where you want to be 5, 10, 30 years from now. We are in the process of building a “mentor” list to post on the Space Law Network website.

• Tip: it is the mentees responsibility to keep this connection going. Don’t expect a mentor to schedule calls/meetings. Don’t just send a “can we talk?” email or your schedule. Propose specific options for the time and method of meeting.

• No luck or too nervous? Start by bypassing the IRL relationship. Focus on professionals you respect. Follow them online. Read what they read, look who they interact with, see what conferences they go to, get the lay of the land on you own. Reach out to them informally. Each month set up one or two informational meetings/calls with practicing attorneys or law professors familiar with an area of interest to you. This can be a great source of information and advice and allows you to build new personal connections. The people you see on panels and who write articles are great sources.

• Tip: Informational interviews are not job interviews; they are an opportunity for you to interview someone who has the type of job you want. Some attorneys or businesses may respond to your request with “but, we’re not hiring,” let them know that isn’t what you’re after. This is a good opportunity to grow your network and learn details of the industry.

Use LinkedIn to build an online and offline network. It provides an opportunity for you to showcase your experience and skills, find and share opportunities, keep track of people you know, and help expand your network. I continue to be startled by how important LinkedIn is to legal recruiters.

• Tip: If you are curious about how to use Linked In effectively in the job search, consider checking out the book “The 6Ps of the Big 3 for Job-Seeking JDs” by Amanda Ellis.

Post Graduation Strategy

The First 2-3 Years: Your aim is to begin to set yourself apart as a legal expert in these areas publicly – whether or not your current job is technically “in the field,” this is doable and opens the next door. • Don’t turn down opportunities to gain legal experience, even if it’s not in the practice area you’re aiming for. Gaps in employment are hard to overcome later on and general legal experience is a significant requirement for many specialized, narrow interest jobs.

• Aim for 2 annual publications in magazines, newsletter, journals, or law reviews this year highlighting your developing expertise.

• Step up that leadership: in the professional organizations you joined consider a leadership role in your interest area. Keep in mind, this doesn’t necessary need to be your current practice area.

• Money is likely tight right now, we get that, but try to attend 1-2 conferences per year in your interest area – better yet, submit a presentation on one of the articles you wrote (double dip your own work). Presenters don’t always get travel covered, but it generally waives registration costs.

Publication Ideas

The International Lawyer (publication of the ABA Section on International Law)

Journal of Space Law, University of Mississippi

The Air and Space Lawyer (publication of the ABA Section on Air and Space)

• I encourage you post any papers or articles to SSRN and many Universities also have a Digital Commons page. You can share these links on your CV, LinkedIn, Resume, Etc.

  • Law Reviews
  • International Law Student Association Quarterly How to submit a law review article (two articles that do a nice job outlining the process):
  • Rostron, Allen K. and Levit, Nancy, Information for Submitting Articles to Law Reviews & Journals, July 9, 2018 https://ssrn.com/abstract=1019029
  • Dinwoodie, Jeffrey, How to Publish a Scholarly Legal Article, ABA Young Lawyers Division, The Young Lawyer, Vol 14, Number 10, August 2010 https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publishing/young_lawyer/yld_tyl_aug10_publish.authcheckdam.pdf

Conferences to Consider

  • American Branch of the International Law Association: International Law Weekend (New York, Fall)
  • American Society of International Law Annual Meeting (typically a Space Law Interest Group Panel) (DC, Spring)
  • Galloway Symposium (DC, December)
  • Nebraska Law, Annual Space Law Conference in DC (DC, mid Fall)
  • International Astronautical Congress (moves annually)
  • Space Symposium (Colorado Springs, Spring)
  • American Bar Association Air and Space Section Space Forum, (DC, Spring/Summer)
  • STRATCOM Deterrence Symposium (Omaha, late Summer)
  • NewSpace, (San Francisco/Seattle Rotation, June)
  • Check out the calendar at Space News : https://spacenews.com/events/
  • Reach out to your mentors and network – it’s sometimes uncomfortable to talk employment, but generally speaking people are more than happy to talk about what conferences they think are important and attend.