Space Law: A Future-ready Practice Landing Today
This year, humans are going to the moon for first time in decades, with the launch of the Artemis I mission.
The soaring interest in rocketing beyond the usual destination of the International Space Station alludes to two things: there is value in the thrill of exploration in of itself and we might be building towards a future in which humans live amongst the stars.
Either way, there is noticeable growing international and commercial interest in advancing into outer space. Finally, travel into the stars is happening before our eyes.
Before this gets into full swing, though, governments, states and international unions must come to some sort of consensus of the laws of space are. Just like there are agreed upon rules of peaceful cooperation in the skies and on the seas, the near-future needs laws for space, too.
Space treaties have existed since the 1960s, created in response to the threat of space-travelling missiles during the Cold War. However, what must the legality and protocols of space be for a Star Trek-style galaxy of interplanetary ventures?
In comes the people who, along with governments and international bodies, will be at the heart of it all. Space Lawyers.
The title sounds silly in 2022 but, already, they very much exist. Whilst there aren’t opportunities for you to become a Space Lawyer everywhere, and certainly not yet off-planet, the roles are increasingly out there.
Space Lawyers in 2022
Most open Space Lawyer roles take the form of in-house Legal Counsel and Contracts Lawyers at commercial space companies. Think about the legal processes that must have been involved in sending 90-year-old William Shatner 66 miles into the sky aboard Richard Branson’s Blue Origins ship rocket last October!
However, if your dream is to become a top-tier law firm’s designated Space Lawyer, you might have to work very hard to persuade someone to let you originate the role or, more simply, wait a few years.
There is scope for space-related legal work in more everyday walks of life, though. Space law is crucial to preventing and responding to aggressive intervention on the orbiting satellites that humans rely on for mobile networks, broadcasting, financial systems, search and rescue operations and even agriculture.
How to Become a Space Lawyer
Space law’s aim is to regulate the rules which apply to human activity in outer space – that is, everywhere beyond 62 miles above Earth’s surface. Here’s how to get involved in the historic movement.
- A Space Lawyer is a Lawyer first and formally. This means they assist in supporting the efforts of their clients (in this case, government agencies and commercial companies) with their extensive technical legal knowledge and experience. Today this may be primarily attending meetings and drafting documents but the responsibilities are sure to evolve in the future.
- To get there, a wannabe Space Lawyer should enter the sector through the usual route of completing an LLB and then whichever postgraduate Solicitor qualifications are required in their country. There is no specific widespread space law training yet so if you are really determined to stand out, you might want to write your doctoral thesis on the topic.
- Once qualified, the small number of space law roles available globally mean you are entering a tough, competitive job-hunting landscape. If you have the determination, talent and passion, however, there is no reason why it can’t be you at the forefront of this ever-changing and future-thinking industry.
If you are exploring exciting new law practices and want a career change, get in touch with a dedicated, knowledgeable and connected Legal Recruitment Consultant for a confidential discussion about your potential.