International Law Curriculum

The University of Richmond School of Law has a strong, and growing, commitment to the study of international law. International law is broadly divided into two categories, public international law and private international law. Public international law deals primarily with relationships among nation states and international entities; it includes issues of human rights. Private international law consists of the almost endless array of issues confronting individuals or businesses in their dealings across national boundaries. Much, although certainly not all, of private international law is commercial in character. Other issues of an international character cannot be readily placed in either category, such as immigration law or the relationship between international norms and domestic legal systems.

The practice of some, but not many, lawyers is concentrated in the area of public international law. This is not to say that a course in public international law is not relevant for the majority of lawyers. Quite the contrary, such a course is very useful because it provides the opportunity in a comparative way to reflect on many aspects of our domestic legal system. More likely, lawyers will confront some of the issues that are not easily categorized such as immigration law or the US constitutional aspects of some international obligation. But in this era of globalization and transnationalization, a larger percentage of lawyers will confront issues within the sphere of private international law.

Introductory Courses

The University of Richmond School of Law offers introductory courses in the areas of public international law and private international law. The International Law course considers issues of public international law as well as some issues involving the relationship between international law and domestic constitutional or statutory law. International Business Transactions presents an overview of a range of private transnational legal issues such as contract law, intellectual property law, antitrust law, operation of branch businesses or subsidiaries abroad.  

Elective Courses

A wide range of elective courses are offered in more specific international or transnational areas. Students interested in public international law can take courses such as Immigration Law, Human Rights, International Human Rights, and Law of War. Students interested in private international law should consider courses such as European Union Law, International Arbitration, International Intellectual Property, International Environmental Law, Climate Change Seminar, Labor Law and the Global Economy, Labor and Employment Issues in Domestic and International Business, and Admiralty Law. Comparative law courses provide a consideration of different world legal systems or consideration of a specific area of law within another system. Courses offered in this category include Comparative Law, Muslim Family Law and Islam, Law and Jurisprudence.

Students who want to take a seminar/course that incorporates an experiential learning component may want to take International Business Practice. The goal of International Business Practice is to give students "hands on" experience in dealing with typical international legal problems and challenges facing actual businesses. Students are called upon to identify legal issues, research appropriate and applicable laws, develop legal strategies and present their findings to an actual business client. Law student teams also work with MBA student teams to prepare international business plans to introduce client-firms’ products or services into selected foreign markets.

In addition, students can take international courses through a number of study abroad programs. The law school, for example, sends a number of students every year to its Summer Program at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. In the past, this program has offered courses such as Comparative Public Law (US & UK), International Law, and European Union Law.

Electives in Other Areas

A number of courses in other curricular areas are also helpful for students interested in international law, including Antitrust, Intellectual Property, Corporations, Federal Income Tax, Corporate Tax, Securities Regulation, Environmental Law, Family Law, and Labor Law. In addition, other departments at the university offer cross-listed courses of interest to the international law student, such as Cultural Property, Archaeology, Ethics, and Law.

Clinical Opportunities

Students interested in an international law clinical experience can do an externship with the American Red Cross, Richmond Chapter to gain exposure to international humanitarian law. They may also want to work with a global corporation with a Richmond presence, such as Hamilton Beach/Proctor Silex.