Week 11: International Commercial Law: Opportunities for an Intern
By Elizabeth Pietanza
With all the talk about globalization, efforts to liberalize trade and the development of a common legal culture, what does it mean to practice international commercial law? What opportunities are there for an intern to learn about this area first-hand?
In the civil arena, lawyers facilitate and advance the goals set out in the preambles of multilateral and bilateral free trade agreements. They promote the growing field of international commercial law by drafting international business and trade contracts, evaluating the global tax implications of those contracts, complying with foreign direct investment law so as to ensure predictability and security, and following through on transactions to achieve compliance with labor, environment, intellectual property, anti-monopoly and other relevant laws. These transactions may not only be governed by the parties’ governments’ laws, but also by the growing number of international conventions and stipulations to model rules. In essence, not only should an international commercial lawyer develop an area of expertise, but he or she should also have the ability to identify all potentially implicated areas stemming from the transaction and work with a client and other lawyers to ensure compliance with all applicable requirements.
At Deloitte, I’ve been working primarily with attorneys specialized in international tax practice, assisting them in serving clients’ global taxation needs. In addition, I’ve collaborated with attorneys from the firm’s labor and corporate departments to coordinate their transactions with a view to minimizing clients’ tax exposure. Over the past three months, and under the guidance of my mentor, some of the work I have done includes reviewing contracts to determine which tax laws are triggered; researching the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s model double taxation treaty and comments to help interpret Chile’s position on certain tax issues; and drafting client letters explaining the duties of the Board of Directors under Chilean law, the requirements for importing various goods and technologies, and the tax implications of rendering certain kinds of payments, repatriating dividends, and establishing Chilean branches and subsidiaries.
In addition, I have worked on non-transactional projects that include preparing parts of a client seminar on how to do business in Chile in light of recently effective free trade agreements, helping draft an article on mediation that is to be published in the Diario Financiero, the national daily financial journal, and preparing and delivering a presentation to all the Deloitte lawyers on the use of mediation to resolve commercial disputes.
In a world that is growing economically and legally interdependent, my experience at Deloitte has truly introduced me to the comprehensive nature of international commercial law practice. As with any good investment, the value of my experience will grow over time and will benefit me both now and throughout my future career.