Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Albie Sachs, former Justice of the South African Constitutional Court, speaking at the Guarini Institute for Global Legal Studies at NYU Law School on Wednesday. Photo: David Handschuh / NYLJ

New York University School of Law is launching a new institute centered on the global practice of law with a $20 million donation from alum Frank Guarini.

Frank Guarini

The school planned to unveil the Guarini Institute for Global Legal Studies Wednesday afternoon with an event featuring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in conversation with Albie Sachs, a former justice on South Africa’s highest court.

The institute will support the law school’s existing international law programming, as well as add to those offerings. It will create a platform for the interdisciplinary study of legal and regulatory issues that span international borders. Its research also will examine how technology is transforming legal practice across the globe.

“Our increasingly international world needs lawyers who can meet the complex challenges presented by a changing global and technological landscape,” Guarini said in an announcement of the institute Wednesday. “Lawyers continue to be the business facilitators central to understanding other countries that knit the world together.”

Guarini is a former U.S. lawmaker who also served as the U.S. representative to the United Nations during the Clinton administration. He graduated from NYU Law in 1950—after serving in the Navy during World War II—and returned to the law school five years later to obtain his LL.M.

He was elected to the New Jersey Senate in 1965, and went on to serve seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Guarini became a real estate developer following his public service career.

His name is a familiar one at NYU. Previous financial gifts have created the school’s Frank J. Guarini Center for Environmental and Land Use Law; the Frank J. Guarini Leaders in Government Service Institute; and the Guarini Government Lecture.

Last year, Guarini donated $10 million to Dartmouth College, his undergraduate alma mater, to fund study abroad programs.

“Frank Guarini embodies what it means to do well and do good,” said NYU Law dean Trevor Morrison. “In his extraordinary career, he has been a highly successful lawyer and businessman, a dedicated public servant, and a generous benefactor.”

Among the existing global legal programs that the Guarini Institute will support is NYU Law Abroad, in which third-year students can spend their spring semester studying law in Buenos Aires, Shanghai or Paris. It will also bolster the law school’s Global Fellows Program, which enables lawyers, academics and government officials to come to the law school for up to a year to conduct research. Additionally, the new institute will support conferences, lectures and other programming focused on international law.

“Tomorrow’s lawyers will need to approach law as an instrument of governance, including its enduring power and inherent limitations, from an interdisciplinary and global perspective,” said Benedict Kingsbury, the law school’s vice dean for global programs and the institute’s faculty director. “NYU Law offers unparalleled opportunities for our J.D. and graduate students to engage with novel legal, policy and regulatory issues here and abroad, and the Guarini Institute will raise those opportunities to a new level.”