Space: The Legal Frontier
- Nov 19, 2015
- Legal Life, Science and Technology
So, as a child you dreamed of becoming astronaut-pilot Buzz Lightyear (or Aldrin). But you would get carsick on the way to school, and you realized you would probably make a terrible pilot. So you settled your dreams on becoming a NASA engineer. Hey, as long as you worked on a piece of something that made it into space, it would be like you made it too. Then you burned out of first-year calculus, so you switched to poli sci, and now you find yourself at law school googling “space law.”
Space law is mostly a creature of treaty. Treaties govern such un-sexy topics as satellite orbits, registering rockets or other stuff launched into space, and allocating resources on the moon. The funny thing about the moon-resources treaty is that none of the countries that have actually been to the moon have signed on.
You might think that space law is where dreamers go to learn that you can’t discharge your student loan debt in bankruptcy; and I think so too. But apparently some space law attorneys are gainfully employed. Look at this guy. Sure, he seems to have a sort of I-still-believe-I-can-fly look in his eyes—after all, “aviation and travel law” is probably pretty far from negotiating a project finance deal with a Ferengi, or arguing at the Supreme Court that the Bill of Rights applies to a Borg that’s been unplugged from the hive mind, or whatever space law aspirants dream of—but on the bright side, there are places in this world that will let you spend money on specializing in space law.
For example, my alma mater, McGill University, runs an Institute of Space Law. At the time of publication, their website appeared to be down, so I couldn’t figure out whether they publish employment statistics for their graduates. But at least you’d get to spend a few years in Montreal as your tuition money burns up faster than rocket propellant. A space law institute seems like the right choice for someone that’s not mad enough at their parents to go to art school, but who’d still like to stick it to them just a little.
But if space law appeals to you, I have great news. You can spend all your days studying and writing about space law. A cursory search of the Columbia Law Review reveals about 6 articles on the topic. If you want to be a space law attorney, what you really want to do is become a law school professor. Instead of burning through your own money, you can burn through the debt-financed tuitions of hundreds of law students each year. Then, you’ll be able to write about space law and Wittgenstein to your heart’s content.
If any of you happen to be brave enough go on interviews, talking to law firms about your passion for space law, let us know. We’re interested in getting you some help, and possibly a blog post.
On an mostly unrelated note, if you’ve never seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, you are culturally deprived:
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