The American Branch of the International Law Association serves several functions that set it apart from other major U.S. international law organizations, such as the American Society of International Law and the American Bar Association Section of International Law.
First, the American Branch is part of a truly international organization. The International Law Association was established in 1873 and is composed of sixty-three national branches (including the Headquarters Branch). It is currently the preeminent international non-governmental organization involved in developing and restating international law. The American Branch nominates members – both leading U.S. international lawyers and early career professionals – to participate as members of the ILA committees. The opportunity to help prepare draft treaties or studies in collaboration with leading international lawyers and international law academics from around the world – rather than just consulting with other U.S. international lawyers – is vital to furthering an understanding of international law. Committee members and others who attend the ILA’s biennial international conferences find their involvement with the ILA to be immensely rewarding.
Second, the American Branch has its own committees, which allow members to combine service and academic or advocacy work. These committees are unusual in terms of the range of opportunities they provide for member-initiated projects, and there are opportunities for student involvement as well. The American Branch’s committees – unlike the Branch as a whole – may advocate for specific positions on international legal issues. Committees have filed amicus briefs in appellate cases and communicated with government officials on issues in need of change. Branch committees also often engage in traditional, rigorous academic work, sometimes undertaking projects that complement the work of parallel international ILA committees, and sometimes developing their own projects. The recent book-length study by the American Branch’s Law of the Sea Committee, explaining law of the sea terms and concepts, is an example of a work that even in its draft form has been widely cited and beneficial to scholars and practitioners.
Third, the American Branch performs exceptional educational and professional service through its national and regional International Law Weekends. Other international law organizations also hold major national conferences, of course, but none follow the Branch’s lead in offering low admission price to members of the organization, to members of cosponsoring organizations, and free admission to students. The annual International Law Weekend, held each October in New York City, provides significant opportunities for attendees to learn from and meet top international lawyers from private practice, academia, the government, nongovernmental organizations, the United Nations, and other international organizations.