Cutler Fellows Program Speakers Develop the Next Generation of "Superlawyers"

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Mar 09, 2020
by Soila Kenya
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Cutler Fellows Program Speakers Develop the Next Generation of "Superlawyers"

The Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program is bridging the gap in mentorship between law students and industry professionals. Two speakers of the eighth annual Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program, Judge Diane Wood and Luis Almagro

To Lloyd N. Cutler, mentorship was a matter of course. Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, said of Cutler, "Lloyd had an unusual ability to see potential in others and to help them develop talents they might not even know they had."

Often referred to as the last "superlawyer," Cutler was a co-founder of the Washington, DC law firm, Wilmer Cutler & Pickering, and White House Counsel to two US presidents. He was dedicated to the mission of ensuring promising young international lawyers, academics, and jurists were nurtured in their fields to make a positive impact in their communities.

Carrying on this legacy, the Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program continues to attract talented and experienced judges, lawyers, and members of the legal fraternity to provide insights and guidance to a yearly cohort of Cutler Fellows.

This year, from February 20 to 22, 56 law students from 14 top US law schools convened in Washington to discuss the utility of international law in finding solutions to the world's most urgent challenges.

Among the speakers was Judge Diane Wood, Chief United States Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for The Seventh Circuit. She gave a keynote address where she spoke, among other things, about Nadia Murad, a young Yazidi woman who was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018.

In 2014, Murad was captured by the Islamic State (ISIS). After escaping, she fled to Germany and founded an organization, Nadia’s Initiative, dedicated to "helping women and children victimized by genocide, mass atrocities, and human trafficking to heal and rebuild their lives and communities."

Judge Wood used the story of Murad to show international law transcends individual nations. "Law does not stop at the border of a nation…there are norms that bind all countries no matter what their political system, no matter what their internal policy preferences," she said.

Judge Wood has served on the Seventh Circuit since 1995 when she became only the second woman to serve on that court. She has taught at Georgetown University Law School, Cornell Law School, University of Chicago Law School, and has worked at the US State Department. She has also served in the private sector, practicing general antitrust and commercial litigation. In an interview with Salzburg Global, she revealed being a woman, and especially a mother in her profession has meant she has faced an uphill battle throughout her career.

"When I moved to the University of Chicago, which was in the middle of 1981, I was the first and only person on the law faculty ever to be someone's mother. When I started teaching, I had a 19-month old daughter and a two-week-old son, and [it was] very hard trying to get all of that balanced and keep up professionally the way I thought I should and have eventually a third child. So I had three children, the oldest of whom was four. It was pretty wild," she said.

Another speaker at this year's program was Luis Almagro, Secretary-General, Organization of American States (OAS). His speech to the Fellows centered around his vision of a true realization of human rights in the Americas.

His advice for young lawyers was simple, "My first advice always is to be good. That sounds maybe too elementary. But in fact, it makes a substantial difference of what you end up doing in life and how you deal with your profession and how you deal with the use of justice… And then, of course, to keep studying and keep learning. Knowledge is permanently evolving. And what you know today may not be like that tomorrow. And so you have to keep learning," he said.

He revealed his biggest inspiration is boxing legend Muhammad Ali. "He was a pacifist… He was stripped from his title because of his principles and values, and maybe he was not always a perfect person, but that is how persons are," he said.

John Bellinger III of Arnold & Porter and former U.S. Legal Adviser also spoke at this year’s Cutler Fellows Program and has been a long time speaker at the program. He spoke in conversation with Stephen Hadley, former U.S. National Security Advisor. Other prominent speakers to be featured in the program include Kristalina Georgieva, Chief Executive Officer, World Bank; Mary DeRosa, former Deputy Assistant and Deputy Counsel to the President and Justice Richard Goldstone a former South African judge.

In his decade-long tenure as Chair of the Board of Directors at Salzburg Global, Cutler always ensured capable lawyers just starting had access at Salzburg Global to knowledge from a wide variety of judicial traditions, international legal institutions, and the international legal community at large. The Cutler Fellows program, which started in 2012, looks set to continue his mission in the years to come.


The Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program is held under the auspices of the Lloyd N. Cutler Center for the Rule of Law. The program is held in collaboration with fourteen of the leading US law schools. This year's program is being sponsored by Arnold & Porter LLP, B. Thomas Mansbach, a board member and the chair of the Cutler Center Advisory Board and NYU Washington, DC, and contributors to the Lloyd N. Cutler Center for the Rule of Law.