UW School of Law’s international reach is about to get bigger. Launching this fall, the Global Business Law Institute aims to help a new generation of lawyers gain the skills needed to work in a global marketplace. We sat down with Scott Schumacher, associate dean for academic administration, to learn more.

What is the Global Business Law Institute?

The Global Business Law Institute is a collection of all the courses, conferences and activities we offer in this area. We already have a Global Business Law LL.M. and courses in comparative and international law. It’s the idea of making visible what we’re already doing and providing more structure and coherence. Now we have a Global Business Law concentration track for J.D. students, a fellows program and a speaker series.

How did the Global Business Law Institute come about?

We were looking at the strengths of the school and the region, considering how the law school could align more closely with industry and law firms. Seattle, a hub for technology and business, has so many companies that are world leaders, like Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft and Costco, to name a few. We realized that we weren’t taking full advantage of the people and companies in this region. The law school did a self-study of our curriculum, which we sent to the board for input on what we could do beyond what we currently offer. One of the things that came out of the recommendations was a J.D. concentration track so students could demonstrably focus on global business law.

How is UW Law uniquely suited to address global business law?

A lot of it comes down to our faculty and research agenda, our graduate programs and areas of strength. UW Law also has many longstanding relationships in the community, and a number of leaders in industry and law are graduates of this institution. We also can’t underestimate the amazing support we receive from our community partners and companies.

How will the business community be involved?

We have a Global Business Law Advisory board, comprised of top executives in the area, including Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, Brett Gerry, president of Boeing Japan, and Shinichiro Kawazoe, the vice president of Mitsubishi International. The advisory board is providing opportunities for our students by hiring them as fellows. The fellows will gain work experience in the general counsel’s office, good mentorship and networking opportunities.

What do you hope students will gain from the Institute?

Expertise, and exposure. Exposure to global business law issues, including current event issues. The conference that we’re holding on Brexit will partner with the Jackson School of International Studies and the Foster School of Business, and lawyers from London and Brussels will teleconference in. Students will hear about important issues from experts and learn from the best in the world. They will also have a concentrated study in an area important to this region, and will be well-prepared for their career in this growing field.

What are you most looking forward to seeing as a result of the Institute?

For me it’s the growing partnership between the companies, law firms and accounting firms, both here in the region and internationally. I think we have so much to offer each other. The important issues of the day — from Brexit and Apple and international taxes, to the Panama Papers — are in the front pages of the world’s newspapers, and we’re talking about them here at UW Law with the best people in the world weighing in. Our students, the UW Law community, companies and firms all benefit, whether they participate as speakers or audience members. It’s that true partnership that we’re building.