International Travel

Travel has always been important to our firm –  not just as a frequent experience, but as a principle of life. We believe that travel, especially international travel, builds character, grants perspective, and facilitates understanding.

That is why in 2017 – long before the pandemic induced WFH boom – we started offering our employees the ability to work remotely, from another country, for a month at a time. To date, our employees have worked from Brazil, Croatia, Dominican Republic, England, Peru, Russia, and Spain.

VW Abroad

In 2022, we expanded our commitment to international travel by relocating our entire firm overseas to work remotely from Lisbon, Portugal for a month. Not only was it the most productive, best billing month in the firm’s history, it produced more motivated, satisfied employees and unmatched firm camaraderie. Our second VW Abroad trip in 2023 took us to Barcelona, Spain. Stay tuned for our third VW Abroad adventure in Mexico City this summer!

VW Abroad 2023 - Barcelona, Spain

Last summer we took our firm to Barcelona, Spain for our second annual VW Abroad trip. Check out our recap video below! We share what our employees found most valuable about their time in Barcelona and why we choose to invest in providing this experience for our team. 

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  • What We Learned From a Month Working Abroad

    VW partner Kevin Vela shares the playbook for how we made our first VW Abroad trip happen and reflects on what went well and how we plan to improve.

  • Business Insider Article

    A Texas law firm is moving its entire office to Portugal for a month this summer. Here’s how it’s making it work.

  • Above the Law Article

    This Law Firm Invited Everyone To Work From Portugal And I Guarantee They Have A Better ‘Firm Culture’ For It

  • VW Abroad Origin Story

    Listen to some of the VW Partners share the origin story of VW Abroad and the philosophy behind the program.

  • Our 1 Month Working From Lisbon, Portugal

    Learn more about our first month-long VW Abroad experience in Lisbon, Portugal the summer of 2022. This video features some highlights from our trip as well as interviews with our team talking about their experience abroad and their thoughts on work/life balance.

  • Clio: Law Firm Innovation Reisman

    We are proud to have been awarded Clio’s first ever Reisman for Law Firm Innovation in 2017,  long before the pandemic induced WFH boom, for our flexible approach to where work can be done and our philosophy on how travel creates better global citizens, and therefore better employees.

  • Fox4 Interview

    There’s a lot of conflict about returning to the office in some companies but not at one Dallas-based law firm. They are taking the idea of remote work to a new level by sending employees to Lisbon, Portugal for the summer.

Professional Exchange Programs

Vela Wood has been fortunate enough to participate in the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Professional Fellow Program several times in recent years. 

YLAI seeks to empower entrepreneurs from Latin America and the Caribbean to launch and advance their entrepreneurial ideas in order to contribute to the social and economic development of their communities. YLAI selects 250 entrepreneurs (out of 2500 applicants) from Latin America and the Caribbean to participate in a four-week fellowship with a US company in their field of expertise. 

Vela Wood has hosted five fellows each for a month at a time – Arístides Rubio from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in 2017, Fabio Cendão from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2018, Carlos Aguirre from Quito, Ecuador in 2022, Denisse Vigueras from Mexico City, Mexico in 2023, and Kyla Wright from Portmore, Jamaica in 2024.

After the completion of each YLAI program, we have participated in a reverse exchange program where we travel to the home city of our fellow to meet startups, discuss entrepreneurship, and host a pitch competition.

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  • Meet Our Entrepreneur In Residence From The Dominican Republic

    Learn more about the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) program and our first YLAI Fellow in 2017 – Arístides Rubio, an attorney and entrepreneur from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

  • From The DR To Dallas: What Arístides Learned At Vela Wood

    Our 2017 YLAI Fellow Arístides Rubio reflects on his YLAI experience and his 5 weeks living in Dallas with Vela Wood as his host.

  • Bringing Startup Culture To Law In Brazil

    A Q&A with our 2018 YLAI Fellow Fabio Cendão, an attorney and entrepreneur from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, regarding his fellowship, his work in Brazil, and his time at Vela Wood and in Dallas.

  • Quito Pitch Competition 2023

    Check out this video of VW Partners Kevin Vela and Radney Wood in Quito, Ecuador where Vela Wood sponsored a pitch competition in partnership with Aguirre Noboa Law Firm benefitting Ecuadorian startups as a part of the exchange program of the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Fellowship Program.

  • Startup Ecosystems Are Bridging the World

    Having been fortunate enough to participate in pitch competitions in three countries – the U.S., Dominican Republic, and Brazil – we have learned that startups are a great equalizer.

Twice since the fall of 2016, Vela Wood has had the pleasure of working with American Councils on their Russian Business Leaders (RBL) fellowship program, which is sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

RBL is a program for young Russians engaged in business leadership positions to gain exposure to work in the US private sector with the goal of creating partnerships between companies and young entrepreneurs in the United States and Russia.

Our Austin office was selected to host two startup attorneys from Russia through this program; Dmitry Makarov in 2016 and Rustam Rafikov in 2019. In each instance, Vela Wood hosted Dmitry and Rustam for a month, providing them with legal experience and education within the U.S. After each time hosting an RBL fellow, our partner Radney Wood was selected for the RBL outbound program where he was able to travel to Russia for two weeks (once in 2017 and once in 2019) to speak at different accelerators, incubators, universities, law schools, and the US Embassy about startups and small businesses.

Radney regularly keeps in touch with both Dmitry and Rustam and the American Council’s team. In 2021, he assisted American Councils with their virtual RBL program by putting on a virtual presentation for Russian-based attorneys and founders to discuss social benefit companies and raising capital.

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  • Dmitry Makarov, Russian Professional Exchange In Vela Wood Austin

    Learn more about our 2018  Russian Business Leaders (RBL) Fellow Dmitry Makarov, an attorney and entrepreneur from Saint-Petersburg, Russia and his research on the differences and similarities in legal procedures of starting and running businesses in the Russian Federation and the United States.

In 2021, Vela Wood partnered with another American Councils program, Ukrainian Business Leaders: Promoting Innovation and Entrepreneurship (UBL PIE) which is sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

VW was matched with Dima Foremnyi, a Ukrainian attorney who runs an outstanding accelerator program in Ukraine for a virtual fellowship, which aims to empower entrepreneurs, innovators, and businesspersons from across Ukraine with the skills to develop innovative economic, policy, and business solutions. 

See Some of Our Adventures