From Lawyers to Public Servants – Cutler Fellows Convene in Washington

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Mar 09, 2015
by Katharina Schwarz
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From Lawyers to Public Servants – Cutler Fellows Convene in Washington

43 students from top US law schools come to Washington, DC for third Cutler Law Fellows Program

On February 20-21, 43 Salzburg Cutler Fellows gathered at the United States Institute for Peace for the third Cutler Law Fellows Program to present cutting edge thinking on international law and explore careers that embrace public service.  

Representing ten of the top US law schools—Chicago, Columbia, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, NYU, Penn, Stanford, Virginia, and Yale – each year Salzburg Cutler Fellows prepare, submit and defend a paper intended for publication, hear from leading lawyers, judges and public servants, and explore career pathways in private and public international law.

The Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program was founded in 2012 as the second program of Salzburg Global Seminar’s Lloyd N. Cutler Center for the Rule of Law, joining an annual Cutler Lecture at the US Supreme Court which was inaugurated in 2009. Both programs honor Salzburg Global Seminar’s former Chair of the Board of Directors and the founder of the Washington law firm Wilmer Cutler & Pickering, Lloyd N. Cutler.  Cutler served as White House Counsel to Presidents Carter and Clinton, and played a pivotal role in convening lawyers and judges from across the world at Schloss Leopoldskron, the home of Salzburg Global Seminar since 1947. 

Salzburg Global Seminar’s President, Stephen Salyer, opened the program with reflection on Cutler’s legacy and on his hopes for what the growing network of Salzburg Cutler Fellows could come to mean in the world.  He then introduced Friday’s keynote speaker, John B. Bellinger III, a partner at Arnold & Porter and former legal advisor to the Department of State.

After sharing some thoughts on his own career, Bellinger discussed the evolution of public and private international law, and the United States’ role in developing international norms and institutions.  He commented at length on the debate surrounding the US domestic authorization for the use of force against Islamic State, and on how the discussion illustrates tension in the roles of the President and Congress as well as over how to reconcile effective action with constitutional limitations on executive war-making authority.   

The Fellows next split into six working groups: (1) trade law, led by Professor Mark Wu (Harvard); (2) international law and economic law, led by Professor Jose Alvarez (NYU); (3) law of war, led by Professors Jenny Martinez (Stanford) and Ashley Deeks (UVA); (4) comparative law, international law in U.S. law, and IR/IL, led by Professors Daniel Abebe (Chicago) and Rachel Brewster (Duke); (5) foreign policy, international criminal law, and global governance, led by Professor William Burke-White (Penn) and Sara Lulo (Yale); and (6) human rights, rule of law, and immigration, led by Professors Rangita de Silva (Penn) and Muneer Ahmad (Yale). 

Each student was given ten minutes to present the central argument of his or her paper, followed by criticism and discussion. Faculty and other Fellows provided feedback on focus, execution, framing, and methodology, the goal being to strengthen each paper and improve the chances for publication. Each group also delved into issues surrounding the areas of law under consideration.

Fellows also heard from a faculty panel on corruption, international investment and trade negotiations, moderated by William Burke-White, the program’s faculty chair (Penn Law), and featuring Jose Alvarez (NYU), Mark Wu (Harvard), and Rachel Brewster (Duke).  The panel explored the future of bilateral investment treaties, the international trade regime, and the challenges posed by corruption. 

Jeffrey Rosen, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center, closed the day’s proceedings with a presentation and lively discussion on whether there is a “right to be forgotten.”  Rosen emphasized American principles of free speech, while a number of students debated how to define a privacy right more in line with the position held by many Europeans: that technology makes a wide range of information easily and forever accessible in a way that serves little if any public purpose, and that there needs to be an enforceable legal right and process to excise such information from the web.

That evening, the Fellows continued their networking over dinner at Washington’s Metropolitan Club, sponsored by the law firm Arnold & Porter. John Bellinger welcomed the Cutler Fellows on behalf of the firm, and Tom Mansbach, Chair of the Cutler Center for the Rule of Law at the Salzburg Global Seminar, offered thanks to Arnold & Porter for their support, and to Mr. Bellinger for his personal encouragement of the program.

On the following morning, the Fellows convened at New York University’s Washington, DC Campus.  NYU Trustee Ron Abramson welcomed the students and then turned the floor over to Justice Richard Goldstone, Salzburg Global board member and former Chief Prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and member of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Justice Goldstone described the evolution of efforts to dismantle apartheid in South Africa, including the less-well-understood role played by US foundations and human rights lawyers. In closing, he reflected on his own journey as a lawyer and urged the students to pursue opportunities for public service across their careers.

The program then shifted to welcome four speakers representing diverse avenues for public service. To further explore these and their own personal goals, the Fellows broke into four small groups, led by Michael Bahar (Staff Director and General Counsel to the Minority Staff of the House Select Committee on Intelligence and Navy JAG; former Deputy Legal Advisor to the White House); Alka Pradhan (Counterterrorism Counsel at Reprieve, US); Douglas Rutzen (President and CEO of the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law); and Tom Wyler (Senior Advisor for Trade and Investment, Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Commerce). In 15-minute speed sessions, the groups rotated through speakers and lenses, considering everything from professional goals and excitement levels to geographic flexibility and work-life balance. 

Following lunch, Professor Burke-White hosted a final session on paper publishing and entering academia, wrapping up a full and productive two days of discussions on international law and public service.

Salyer closed the session, urging the Salzburg Global Fellows to stay engaged with Salzburg Global and with each other.  “You have an extraordinary opportunity to shape the future of international law and institutions,” he said.  “Seize it.”