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Job Profile

Space Lawyers

Space law governs all space-related activities. It covers things like the protection of planets from human contamination, to the rescue of stranded astronauts.


Space law governs all space-related activities. It covers things like the protection of planets from human contamination, liability for damages caused by space objects, and the rescue of stranded astronauts.

Most space laws are agreed internationally by bodies such as the UN, so they require complex negotiations with many different groups around the world.


Job Description

Lawyers work closely with their clients, the courts, and other legal professionals. They can be involved in writing new laws, studying the impact of existing ones, or arguing cases in court, and they might:

  • Meet with clients (typically companies or national space agencies) to discuss cases and offer advice

  • Study current laws and research past judgements

  • Prepare written and verbal arguments

  • Negotiate agreements on behalf of their clients

  • Check contracts and oversee their signing


Working Hours & Conditions

Lawyers have a reputation for working long hours which may include weekends. 

Lawyers spend a lot of time working in offices with computers, condusting research and writing documents, and will also go to court to argue a case. They may also travel around the world to meet clients, make agreements with international organsiations, and attend attend conferences.


Routes into Space Law

Currently there aren't any undergraduate degrees in space law.  Instead, you'll need to study for a standard law degree and then specialist after graduation by completing a master's or a PhD. Typically postgraduate courses cover all of aerospace rather than just space.  There are also opportunities for studying policy, and space technology with space law.

Educational institutions such as the London Institue of Space Policy and Law accept applications for visiting scholars and researchers from higher degree programs, or those in the legal or space sector wishing to pursue specific topics.The UN publishes directory of educational opportunities in space law every year.


Online Resources

International Institute of Space Law – IISL aims to encourage the development of space law. It runs an annual international competition for students called the Manfred Laches Moot Court Competition.

London Institue of Space Policy and Law – ISPL is a UK charity that carries out impartial study of space policies and related law, and provides seminars, undergaduate courses and supervision of postgraduate degrees.

European Centre for Space Law – ECSL is a part of the European Space Agency, and provides a forum for discussions related to space law. It runs a summer course and an essay competition for students.

United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs – UNOOSA works to promote international cooperation in the peaceful use and exploration of space. It helps to craft the laws that govern space activities, providing information and advice to governments and companies, and developing a space law curriculum.

Engadget UK: "What you need to know about the laws of space" – An article all about the different space law treaties and historical cases involving theme.

International Bar Association – Space Law Committee – The committee provideas a forum for outer space lawyers to address the increasing number of practical legal issues arising in commercial and regulatory activities in this specialised area of domestic and international law.

AllAboutLaw.co.uk – All About Law provide detailed information about legal jobs and courses of all kind (not just space law).

Author

Joseph Dudley

Joseph studied Aeronautical Engineering at Imperial College London, and created SpaceCarers.uk.

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