International Law as a Profession: (De)Constructing the Identity of International Lawyers

In 1977, Oscar Schachter talked about an ‘invisible college of international lawyers’ which represented a professional communityof individuals ‘dedicated to a common intellectual enterprise’. Despite few other attempts to understand and engage with the ‘invisible college’concept, no serious discussion took place in the years that followed, leaving an important gap in our evaluation of International Law and its actors.

In this sense, there is a gap in the knowledge of the scholarship as to what the concept of ‘international lawyers’ entails, and what their profession means to them and the international community when exercised on the global stage.

This study seeks to fill this gap by addressing relevant questions on the identity of international lawyers. In particular, this study will focus on two aspects of the legal profession in International Law: (i) how this profession is perceived and described by those who practice it (i.e. self-construction); and (iii) what is the understanding of international lawyers by the international community and its institutions (i.e. social perception).