Stanford Law School Launches First-of-its-Kind Global Quarter

Inaugural cohort of Franke Global Law Fellows learns to practice law across borders and cultures during first Europe-focused program.

The Stanford Law Global Quarter launched in 2022 with 22 second- and third-year students taking advantage of a unique cross-border program designed to train the next generation of globally minded lawyers. Funded by the Franke Global Business Law Fellowship, the Stanford Law School (SLS) Global Quarter allows an intimate cohort of students to spend seven weeks on campus studying the economic and legal challenges facing global business, followed by a three-week immersive experience in business and financial centers around the world. 

Unlike the old aphorism, “all politics are local,” it increasingly can be said that “most law is global.” The problem facing law schools and law firms is that the U.S. legal education system still focuses heavily on U.S. law and on litigation. But this focus fails to meet the realities of practice: many SLS graduates go into transactional practice (not litigation), and most large deals and disputes involve some transnational aspect. So much of what law school graduates will do is neither exclusively domestic, nor litigation. Stanford Law seeks to address these issues through its Global Quarter program.

“At Stanford Law School, we aim to give our students unique opportunities to prepare themselves for an increasingly interconnected and global, complex world and legal landscape,” said Jenny Martinez, the Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School (SLS). “We believe this is an innovation in legal education that will ensure our students cultivate a global perspective.”

For the first seven weeks of Global Quarter, participating students, called Franke Fellows, are on campus taking preparatory courses, including international business transactions and global business law and policy. When they travel abroad for the three-week immersive experience, the Fellows have the opportunity to meet foreign law students and academics and to engage in simulated negotiations and other exercises involving cross-border business and investment. They also meet with regulators, lawyers, and business leaders at multinational companies to learn the professional skills required to face the legal, business, and cultural challenges arising in global business transactions.

For the overseas portion of the Global Quarter, travel, lodging, and most weekday meals are covered by the Franke Fellowship, thanks to William Franke, AB ’59, LLB ’61, who created the W.A. Franke Global Law Program in 2018 with a $25 million gift to the law school. 

Robert Daines, associate dean for SLS’s Global Programs, explained that Global Quarter focuses on the economic, legal and human rights issues that “will equip our students to be successful and to respond to new challenges over the course of their career.”

Going Global…Finally

The Global Quarter was set to launch in 2020 with an immersive experience in Asia, but was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic until spring 2022 when the inaugural group was able to travel to London, Geneva, Berlin, and Frankfurt. One of the participants was Jackie Schaeffer, JD ’23, who ultimately decided to expand on her international experience by pursuing a joint JD/LLM degree at the University of Vienna. In an essay she penned for Stanford Lawyer, Schaeffer noted that globalization has greatly expanded the role of lawyers over the last several decades, but that legal education has not evolved at a commensurate pace. The Global Quarter was “a significant step in bridging that gap, offering both a supplementary skill set and an alternative framework by which to conceptualize the practice of law,” she wrote.

“For me, Global Quarter lived up to that promise almost instantly. On our first day, we found ourselves on a sprawling terrace overlooking Lake Geneva, divided into teams negotiating a mock contract for a data-sharing agreement, led by eBay’s Chief Privacy Officer Anna Zeiter, LLM ’14,” Schaeffer recounted in her essay.

Michael Doman, JD ’22, now a clerk on the Eleventh Circuit, was similarly effusive: “Law school taught me to think like a lawyer, but Global Quarter taught me to think like a legal professional. From brilliant scholars and now life-long friends, I learned what it takes to build an international career and tackle international legal and business problems.”

Many of the 2022 participants called the Global Quarter the highlight of their time in law school. Daniel Khalessi, JD ’22, now an associate at Latham & Watkins, called the experience “the capstone of my three years at Stanford Law School” and Albert Park, JD ’22, now with Davis Polk, said, “Global Quarter was easily the most academically rewarding experience of my law school career.” Tom Newcomb, JD/MBA ’23, said, “Global Quarter is how SLS keeps its promise to provide the best legal education in the world. I am incredibly grateful to have participated. It was, without exception, the highlight of my time at SLS.”

The 2022 cohort also met with Michael Strauss, JD ’01, general counsel of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London, where they ran through a simulation involving a compelling real-world issue following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: What should the bank’s board of directors do with regard to Russia’s membership in the bank? The exercise allowed the students to experience first-hand how a global general counsel makes decisions, faced not with simply interpreting the bank’s governing documents, but also considering the political, reputational, commercial and other ramifications of various decisions.  

“Thanks to the generous gift by Bill Franke, our Franke Fellows not only get the unique opportunity to participate in an intensive, customized quarter focused on global business law and policy, but they also get the opportunity to interact and make connections with foreign law students, academics and leaders at multinational firms,” said Martinez.

“Virtually every young lawyer’s professional life is going to have a very heavy cross-border component and a heavy cross-cultural component,” said Curtis Milhaupt, the William F. Baxter International Professor of Law and one of the Global Quarter field study faculty members. “What this means is that a well rounded legal education has to go beyond a focus on the U.S. legal system.”

Stanford Law School Launches First-of-its-Kind Global Quarter

The next group of Franke Fellows will leave for their three-week intensive study in Europe this coming May. Future programs are planned for Latin America and Asia. Franke Fellows receive at least 14 units of credit for the quarter: 9 units for classes on SLS campus and 5 units for the field study. Interested students must have taken Corporations prior to participating. Information about the 2024 Global Quarter will be available in May 2023. 

For additional information about the program click here.  

About Stanford Law School

Stanford Law School is one of the nation’s leading institutions for legal scholarship and education. Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business, and high technology. Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, produce outstanding legal scholarship and empirical analysis, and contribute regularly to the nation’s press as legal and policy experts. Stanford Law School has established a model for legal education that provides rigorous interdisciplinary training, hands-on experience, global perspective, and focus on public service, spearheading a movement for change.