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Law and International Policy Studies


Lawyers have historically played a vital role in policymaking — either as legislators, regulators, or government officials charged with developing and administering the law; as legal experts in public interest nongovernmental organizations; or as practitioners responsible for advising private actors about the law's application to their conduct. As a result of globalization and ever-expanding international interdependence, lawyers increasingly and inevitably will be expected to assume such policymaking functions in an international environment.

Supplementing the strengths of Stanford Law with preparation through Stanford's Ford Dorsey International Policy Studies (IPS) program, this joint degree provides students with the training and perspective to work across geographic boundaries and break down disciplinary barriers. Graduates gain the tools and dexterity to function as lawyers, advocates, and policymakers across international issue areas and in diverse policy arenas, to see connections that others miss, and to describe and explain those connections so that others will then see them, too. IPS students choose an area of concentration among the following options:

  • Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law
  • Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources
  • Global Health
  • Global Justice
  • International Negotiation and Conflict Management
  • International Political Economy
  • International Security and Cooperation

Recipients of Stanford's joint JD and IPS degrees are prepared to practice law in the public sector as government officials, as lawyers working for nongovernmental organizations in such fields as international human rights and international environmental law, or in the private sector representing clients in transnational domains particularly sensitive to matters of public policy. Graduates may also go on to legal or policy positions in federal executive branch agencies with international responsibilities, in Congress, with international organizations, with nongovernmental organizations active on international issues, with law firms with a substantial transnational practice, or with multinational corporations in policy-sensitive sectors.