William J. Strickland, R’64 and L’69, keeps a multiple time zone clock on his desk so that he instantly knows what time it is for the client or colleague who’s calling him. Strickland, a partner at McGuireWoods, works primarily from the firm’s Brussels office, but also divides his time among Richmond, London, and Bucharest, Romania. His computer’s Outlook calendar is set for European and U.S. time zone meetings, and five-digit dialing connects all of the firm’s phones.

“While that may not sound very important,” said Strickland, who has extensive experience in international finance and corporate transactions, “it helps make people in different offices around the world feel more connected.”

The University of Richmond School of Law is embracing the challenge to prepare lawyers for this interconnected, diverse world through collaborations across disciplines, creative seminars led by faculty and alumni, and innovative arrangements with international organizations and educational institutions.

“Our faculty is international in outlook and experience,” said John G. Douglass, who just stepped down as dean. Joel B. Eisen was a Fulbright Professor of Law at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing in spring 2009. Noah Sachs, also an expert in international environmental law, presented his research at a conference in Dublin last year and was awarded a European Union Fellowship to meet with EU environmental leaders in Brussels. Jonathan K. Stubbs helped to plan and participated in a UNESCO-sponsored regional intergenerational human rights leadership forum in the Tuscany region of Italy in April.

The law school’s summer program in Cambridge, England, has been an integral aspect of international education for more than 30 years. “This summer, for the first time,” Douglass said, “we are supplementing the Cambridge experience with clinical opportunities in London, where eight of our students will work in placements from private practices to Parliament.”

Last fall, Professor Ann C. Hodges and W. Carter Younger, L’67, a partner at McGuireWoods in Richmond and a former adjunct professor, organized a program on privacy in the global workplace in collaboration with the Paris-based Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA). The UIA, begun in 1927, has membership of several thousand lawyers from more than 110 countries, and is committed to the protection of human rights. The event marked the UIA’s first partnership with a U.S. law school.

George L. Hiller, L’91, and William J. Benos, L’88, co-founded a capstone course, International Business Practice, which gives select students the opportunity to work with a company on overseas expansion. “Students provide analytical information on legal issues,” Benos said. The result is “an actual deliverable report and final project,” Benos explained, which can help the company understand issues from export controls to immigration that may impact plans to expand internationally.

Benos, who was born and reared in Ontario, is a partner at Williams Mullen in Richmond and heads the firm’s immigration practice group. In 2004, he was appointed by the Canadian government as honorary consul for Virginia, and as such, fields inquiries and helps facilitate trade between Canada and Virginia.

Hiller said international business often represents from 10 to 20 percent of sales for medium-sized, family-owned companies. “So for lawyers — even those in general practices in rural or non-metropolitan areas — an expertise in international business matters is a real plus.”

Language skills and international travel can give students interested in international practice an advantage, Strickland noted. An understanding of other cultures is equally valuable.

“I think one of the most important things for us as Americans to do if we want to think more globally is to gain a respect for other cultures,” he said. “We need to realize that just because we are from the United States, we do not have all of the answers. Other people also have good ideas which need to be considered and respected, even if we do not always agree with them.”

This article by Bonnie V. Winston originally appeared in the summer 2011 issue of Richmond Law magazine. Read the full article.