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Cutler Fellows

Leading Law Students Forge Online Connections
Students and faculty from the University of Chicago Law School took part in this year's online edition of the Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program
Leading Law Students Forge Online Connections
By: Michael Lubelczyk 

Annual weekend-long event grows to month-long program as the Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program on the future of international law convenes online

Students from 14 top law schools across the United States convened digitally this March to explore the future of public and private international law at the ninth annual Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program

Convening online rather than in-person in Washington, DC due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic meant that the program this year lasted from March 11 to 27, rather than a single weekend as in previous years. The six-session program saw law students from schools across the US engage with prominent legal professionals, public servants, and leaders in the fields of international law and public service, and build connections across their school networks that will serve them in years to come, as well as connecting them to the wider Salzburg Cutler Fellows network.

While all studying in the US, the 53 students of the ninth cohort of Cutler Fellows represented many countries, including Canada, China, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, and the United States, among others, maintaining the international nature of the program.

The 14 law schools taking part in the 2021 program included Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Michigan, New York University, Northwestern, Penn, Stanford, UC Berkeley, the University of Virginia, and Yale.

Speakers this year included Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, Perry World House Professor of the Practice of Law and Human Rights at the University of Pennsylvania and former Jordanian diplomat who has recently been appointed President & CEO of the International Peace Institute; Sue Biniaz, the Senior Fellow for Climate Change at the United Nations Foundation and previously lead climate lawyer for the U.S. State Department; William Burke-White, Richard Perry Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and leading expert on U.S. foreign policy, multilateral institutions, and international law; and John B. Bellinger, III, Partner at Arnold & Porter LLP and former Legal Adviser to the US Department of State and National Security Council. 

Al Hussein spoke candidly with Fellows about his previous role as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the “diplomatic art” of human rights advocacy. “The power of human rights is immense when wielded properly,” said Al Hussein. Bellinger and Biniaz held an engaging discussion regarding the creation of the Paris Climate Agreement and the move to rejoin it under the new Biden Administration. Burke-White also once again served as the faculty chair for the year’s program alongside Mark Wu, Henry L. Stimson Professor of Law, Harvard Law School.

In addition to hearing from these keynote speakers, Fellows received individualized critiques on their student papers from faculty of the participating law schools, as well as further advice on how to seek publication in journals. This year’s papers covered diverse topics, ranging from cyberespionage, to refugee rights, to the interaction between international law and environmental sustainability. 

In the program’s Knowledge Café, students discussed personal ambitions and potential career routes in international law with mentors from The World Bank, New Markets Lab, Rock Creek Global Advisors, the International Monetary Fund, Equality Collective, and the Office of Human Rights & Refugees in the US Department of State. 

“Having the opportunity to meet and learn from the diverse array of experts, faculty, students, and staff. It was tremendously rewarding to be able to learn from them about their area of research and expertise and how they leveraged their experiences to pursue an extremely meaningful career in international law,” said Bao Kham Chau from University of Virginia Law.

Meeting fellow public-interest-minded law students was a highlight for many participants - especially in this age of COVID-19 and online classes. 

“I got to know a number of students from other law schools, which I had not gotten to do yet in law school,” remarked Julia McCartney from Northwestern Law.

Sean Brennan of Michigan Law added: “I would highly recommend participating in the Cutler Fellows Program to any student interested in developing their legal writing skills, and particularly for those interested in a career in public international law. It was great to meet so many other students who are passionate about this field - as well as working professionals and academics; I look forward to (hopefully) calling many of them colleagues one day.”

Concluding this year's program, Stephen L. Salyer, President and CEO of Salzburg Global Seminar, said: “Being a Salzburg Global Fellow is a life-long learning and problem-solving opportunity; we look forward to working with you and continuing these connections in the future.”

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Salzburg Cutler Fellows Call for Renewed Public Trust
Photos of Theresa May and Jeh JohnsonFormer UK Prime Minister Theresa May and former US Secretary for Homeland Security Jeh Johnson took part in an off-the-record conversation
Salzburg Cutler Fellows Call for Renewed Public Trust
By: Salzburg Global Seminar 

Inaugural online Cutler Fellows alumni event was addressed by former UK Prime Minister Theresa May and former US Secretary for Homeland Security Jeh Johnson

Salzburg Cutler Fellows and their European peers called for renewed public trust in government and a rebuilding of the Transatlantic partnership at the inaugural Cutler Fellows online alumni eventProtecting Public Safety While Respecting Civil Liberties.

The January 13 program opened with a discussion between former US Secretary for Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and former UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who had served as Johnson’s counterpart during her tenure as UK Home Secretary 2010-16. The candid, off-the-record conversation was moderated by Salzburg Global Board Member and former Legal Adviser to the US Department of State and National Security Council, John Bellinger III.

The wide-ranging discussion touched on a variety of issues, from the importance of maintaining civil liberties in the face of ongoing coronavirus pandemic to the rights of terrorist suspects and the security failings that led to the insurrection at the US Capitol the week before.

Of particular interest to the Cutler Fellows in their questions of Johnson and May and in their breakout discussions was the importance of public trust in governments in order to maintain public order and secure public safety.

Deterioration in the public’s trust in government was recognized as being a key threat to a successful coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic, fueled by an abundance of conflicting information available online and a growing politicization of measures such as mask-wearing and business closures.

The reasons for this distrust vary between countries; its specific roots need to be understood before appropriate action can be taken. Root causes identified in the Fellows’ discussions included: lack of representative government, increased polarization between political parties that fuel distrust for their own gains, and the proliferation of misinformation on poorly regulated social media platforms.

Ensuring a well-informed populace fully understands and trusts the regulations, measures and vaccines being issued by the government was identified as a key priority for governments at all levels in both countries. Simply removing “bad actors” from social media platforms might give temporary reprieve in the viral spread of misinformation, but this can lead to longer-term difficulties beyond the pandemic. As one Fellow remarked: “They haven’t gone away; they are just harder to police if we can’t see what they are saying.” A more nuanced approach was thus recommended. Extensive cooperation between government, educators, traditional media outlets and social media platforms will be required in order to rebuild public trust, some of the Cutler Fellows advised.

The young lawyers gathered in the program also called for a renewal of the Transatlantic partnership with the incoming of a new presidential administration under the less internationally confrontational and more congenial Joe Biden. The lack of international cooperation not only in the face of the ongoing pandemic but also in recent years on climate change was lamented by the audience and speakers alike.

While their European counterparts expressed reassurance that long-held alliances could be reaffirmed, there was reticence between both the American and European participants about the likelihood of adversaries such as Iran being willing to come back to the negotiating table, even under a new, non-Trump administration.

The event closed with remarks from Salzburg Global Vice President and Chief Program Officer Clare Shine who urged the young lawyers to take the opportunity through Salzburg Global’s new quarterly online program series to build a network of young American and European lawyers dedicated to shaping fair and equitable legal systems.

The Salzburg Cutler Fellow Program was launched by Salzburg Global Seminar in 2012 under the auspices of the Lloyd N. Cutler Center for the Rule of Law. The Program brings together 50-60 young lawyers from top American law schools for an intensive weekend program, usually held in Washington DC. In 2021, the usual weekend program will be held online over the month of March, with additional alumni events, such as this one, held throughout the year.

This new online series of alumni events will feature top-level speakers and expand the Cutler Fellows network outwards to include young European lawyers and aspiring leaders in the field of international law and public practice.

For more information, please contact: Alexis Stangarone, Special Assistant, Office of the President, astangarone@salzburgglobal.org

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Cutler Fellows Program Speakers Develop the Next Generation of "Superlawyers"
Two speakers of the eighth annual Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program, Judge Diane Wood and Luis AlmagroTwo speakers of the eighth annual Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program, Judge Diane Wood and Luis Almagro
Cutler Fellows Program Speakers Develop the Next Generation of "Superlawyers"
By: Soila Kenya 

The Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program is bridging the gap in mentorship between law students and industry professionals.

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.

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Future Lawyers and Mentors Explore International Legal Challenges in Washington
Eighth cohort of Cutler Fellows and faculty representatives meet in Washington, DC.
Future Lawyers and Mentors Explore International Legal Challenges in Washington
By: Carla Zahra 

Salzburg Cutler Fellows discuss how international law and legal systems can tackle challenges ranging from human rights to climate change and global economic issues

WASHINGTON, DC – Students from 14 top law schools across the United States met in Washington, DC to explore the future of public and private international law at the eighth annual Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program

The two-day program (February 20-22, 2020) saw top law students engage with prominent legal professionals, public servants, and leaders in the fields of international law and public service. 

Speakers this year included Judge Diane P. Wood, Chief United States Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for The Seventh Circuit; Luis Almagro, Secretary General, Organization of American States (OAS); John B. Bellinger, III, Partner, Arnold & Porter LLP and former Legal Adviser to the US Department of State and National Security Council; and Stephen J. Hadley, Principal of RiceHadleyGates LLC, former United States National Security Advisor. 

While all studying in the US, the 56 students of the eighth cohort of Cutler Fellows represented 13 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Kenya, Nepal, and the Republic of Korea, as well as the USA. 

Of the 14 law schools taking part in the program, Cornell, Northwestern, and UC Berkeley were welcomed to the program for the first time. These schools joined the law schools of Chicago, Columbia, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Michigan, New York University, Penn, Stanford, the University of Virginia, and Yale, which had taken part in previous iterations of the program since 2012.

During this year’s program opening at the United States Institute of Peace, Judge Wood spoke about the importance of international legal institutions, drawing on her experiences presiding over cases with international ramifications as a U.S. Appellate Chief Judge. “As Voltaire said, ‘If God didn’t exist, we would have to invent him.’ I would say if international law didn’t exist, we would be inventing it right now,” Judge Wood said.

On Friday evening, Bellinger discussed war powers with Hadley, reflecting on the evolution of Congress’ war-making authority since the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, as well as the current War Powers Resolution in the US Senate following the recent strike on Iranian General Qassem Suleimani. The next morning, at New York University’s Washington campus, Almagro spoke about the conventions underpinning international human rights laws and the role of the OAS in upholding them. 

In addition, Fellows received individual critique on their student papers from faculty of the participating law schools, as well as further advice on how to seek publication in journals. This year’s papers covered diverse topics, ranging from domestic violence, to LGBTQ rights activism, to international environment criminal law and investment and sovereign lending in Africa.

In the program’s Knowledge Café, students discussed personal ambitions and potential career routes in international law with mentors from Third Way, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies,New Markets Lab, the International Monetary Fund and Covington & Burling

Speaking to this year’s participants, Stephen L. Salyer, President and CEO of Salzburg Global Seminar, said, “It has been a pleasure to see the hard work you have put in and the fast friendships you have made here, and we look forward to continuing these connections through our Cutler and Salzburg Global Fellowship.”


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 was 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.
 

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Lawyers for a Just Society – Top Law Students Meet for Annual Cutler Fellows Program
Lady Justice. Image: Pixabay/Sang Hyun ChoLady Justice. Image: Pixabay/Sang Hyun Cho
Lawyers for a Just Society – Top Law Students Meet for Annual Cutler Fellows Program
By: Soila Kenya 

Law students from 14 US Law Schools meet in Washington, DC, for three days to discuss the future of public and private international law.

Students from top US law schools will convene in Washington, DC this weekend to discuss the ways in which international law and legal systems can shape a more just society across borders.
These 56 participants will be the eighth cohort of the
Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program. Along with their accompanying professors, they will take part in a mixture of keynote talks, workshops and mentoring discussions.

Over the course of two days (February 20 to 22), the Cutler Fellows will be addressed by a high-level line-up of speakers from the legal community. These include Judge Diane P. Wood, Chief United States Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for The Seventh Circuit; Luis Almagro, Secretary General, Organization of American States (OAS); John B. Bellinger, III, Partner, Arnold & Porter LLP and former Legal Adviser to the US Department of State and National Security Council; and Stephen J. Hadley, Principal of RiceHadleyGates LLC, former United States National Security Advisor.

They will also explore their personal goals and diverse avenues for law and public service with the help of mentors from the International Monetary Fund, New Markets Lab, Third Way, Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Covington & Burling.

Opening the program on the Friday evening, Bellinger and Hadley will discuss “War Powers.” The timely discussion will focus not only on the evolution of the war making authority of Congress and the Executive branch in the years since the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, but also on the recent strike on General Qassem Suleimani, and the current War Powers resolution in the US Senate.

This year’s program, which has 12 countries represented among the cohort, is the first to welcome Cornell Law, Northwestern Law and UC Berkeley Law to the Cutler Fellows Program. Other law schools represented among the cohort include: Chicago, Columbia, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Michigan, New York University, Penn, Stanford, the University of Virginia, and Yale.

Mark Wu, Henry L. Stimson professor of law at Harvard Law School will be reprising his role as Program Chair, along with fellow Program Directors William Burke-White, professor of law at Penn Law School and Stephen L. Salyer, president and CEO of Salzburg Global Seminar.

The Fellows stand to gain a wide range of benefits from the program; they will receive perspectives on their research papers from renowned law faculty and peers, advice on how to successfully publish their research papers in international journals, career-shaping insights in both traditional and non-traditional pathways to international law as well as public service, and access to an expanding network of former and future Salzburg Cutler Fellows from around the world.

Lloyd N. Cutler, for whom the program is named, deeply believed in the role that law plays in nation building, and in the ability of the law and legal experts to contribute solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Having served as White House Counsel for two presidents and as Chairman of the Board of Salzburg Global Seminar, he also championed for the early identification and mentoring of young leaders with a yearning to make the world a better place through law and the rule of law.


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.

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From the Archives - Justice Stephen Breyer Reflects on the "Modern Great American" Lloyd Cutler
Lloyd N. Cutler (1917–2005), considered by some as the last “superlawyer,” was a long-time champion of Salzburg Global SeminarLloyd N. Cutler (1917–2005), considered by some as the last “superlawyer,” was a long-time champion of Salzburg Global Seminar
From the Archives - Justice Stephen Breyer Reflects on the "Modern Great American" Lloyd Cutler
By: Stephen Breyer 

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States pays tribute to Cutler

Lloyd N. Cutler (1917–2005), considered by some as the last “superlawyer,” was a long-time champion of Salzburg Global Seminar, serving as chair of its Board of Directors for a decade.

Believing passionately in the role that law plays in nation building, and in the ability of the law and legal experts to contribute solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges, Lloyd Cutler was able to attract to Salzburg Global high court judges from around the world. In addition, he was personally committed to ensuring that promising young international lawyers, academics and jurists had access at Salzburg Global to a rich variety of judicial traditions, international legal institutions and the international legal community at large.

Today, Salzburg Global remembers him not only for his intellectual brilliance, but for his commitment to advancing respect for the law as a tool for resolving the tough issues of our times.

Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, gave an address at the Memorial Service for Lloyd Cutler. We have published this address below.

I once said to Lloyd Cutler that he was not Herschel Bernardi. But who is Herschel Bernardi? That’s the point. Herschel Bernardi was a comedian who said that a career has four stages. Stage One: Who is Herschel Bernardi? Stage Two: Get me Herschel Bernardi. Stage Three: Get me someone like Herschel Bernardi. Stage Four: Who is Herschel Bernardi?

Lloyd’s Stage One ended, and Stage Two began, during World War II, when an intelligence expert, a friend of Lloyd’s, announced, “We need Cutler.” And off went Cutler to become a top code-breaker.

Lloyd’s brush with Stage Three was brief. President Clinton, after beginning to say, “Get me someone like Lloyd Cutler,” caught himself, said, “Get me Lloyd Cutler,” and persuaded Lloyd to become the only lawyer to undertake two separate tours of duty, serving President Carter and President Clinton, as White House Counsel.

As for Stage Four, it never happened.

Lloyd, my friend, my guide, my mentor… so many of us have silently spoken those words. Lloyd had an unusual ability to see potential in others and to help them develop talents they might not even know they had. Forty years ago I first heard about Lloyd Cutler from Don Turner, law professor, economist, Justice Department official. Lloyd had realized that Don, were he chief of the anti-trust division, could help reform anti-trust law, help it make economic sense. So Lloyd set to work; he encouraged Don; he talked to people; and, how typical, the appointment happened, and the law was reformed.

I recall Lloyd talking to young foreign civil rights leaders at Salzburg. The castle, the lake, the mountains, the restaurants, the music festival, all served as backdrop, not to the Sound of Music, but to hard work, teaching classes and the kind of exchanges that would eventually mean new constitutions, better law, in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Whose fine hand did we see organizing those meetings, guiding and encouraging the participants? The hand of our modern Max Reinhardt, or as he was then known in Austria, Herr Graf Cutler.

Commitment to improving institutions was another Cutler trademark. Lloyd, an inveterate problem solver, would persuade each side to understand the other and would devise reasonable, often imaginative, solutions. The list includes Presidential rule-making, a better Special Prosecutor, Government continuity in times of terrorism. And it goes on and on.

Lloyd was a legal builder. With John Pickering, he created from scratch one of the country’s greatest law firms. More than that. Lloyd understood that government had to work well in a democracy. And he did something about it. Commissions, boards, Presidents (several) were all the beneficiaries of Lloyd’s creative energies and his sound judgment. Lloyd was practical; he was wise; he was effective; he was everywhere.

Lloyd loved to organize: a brief, legal arguments, government institutions, social events, and, I must admit, sometimes other people too. He wanted it (whatever “it” might be) to work and to work well. As for people, he was deeply devoted to his family, Louise, his children of whom he was so proud, and Polly whom he adored and who gave him so much support. He loved watching basketball, baseball, football, movies, with his friends. He wanted his friends to be friends. He created a network, committed, as Cutler was, to using their own abilities to help others.

Cicero tells us that “it is our duty to honor and revere those whose lives are conspicuous for conduct in keeping with their high ethical standards and who, as true patriots, have rendered… efficient service to their country.” That, Lloyd, is our duty to you.

We who love our country and work in its service will miss our friend, our mentor, our guide, our inspiration. We will miss him, but we have not lost him. He remains with us, giving us advice, reminding us to take others’ views into account, helping us to exercise sound judgment, inspiring us to look for ways to make a practical difference, showing us that Homes did not express a vain hope when he said, “I wanted to prove to my father that a lawyer can be a great man.”

To the new generation of young men and women, of lawyers, of those who revere our institutions, we say, draw near. Reflect upon a life that, in this 216th Year of the Republic, provides convincing evidence that a man can have family, success, the highest of standards, all the while making a difference for the better, in public life.

Look upon a life characterized by that spirit of public service that distinguished the law at its best. Contemplate our friend Lloyd Cutler, the lawyer-statesman, the good citizen, the ancient Roman republican, the modern great American.

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Wendy Cutler – Career Negotiator Analyzes the New Order in International Trade
Wendy Cutler and Mark Wu open the seventh Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program in Washington, D.C.Wendy Cutler and Mark Wu open the seventh Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program in Washington, D.C.
Wendy Cutler – Career Negotiator Analyzes the New Order in International Trade
By: Dani Karnoff 

Vice president of the Asia Society Policy Institute and former US trade representative speaks at the seventh annual Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program

Speaking to 53 law students at the Salzburg Cutler* Fellows Program at the United States Institute of Peace last month, Wendy Cutler, vice president of the Asia Society Policy Institute and former acting deputy United States trade representative, provided insight into current challenges facing international trade negotiations.

As a trade negotiator through the Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr. and Obama administrations, the former career diplomat emphasized how the role of the US in the global trade arena has changed dramatically since the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Toward the end of her three-decade-long government service, she had helped lead negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But following the US’ shift to an “America First” international trade policy, Cutler told participants that countries around the world have since had to learn to work together – without the US – to successfully implement such wide-ranging multilateral trade deals.

While international legal frameworks put in place since World War II have fostered the flow of ideas, goods and services around the world, those times are now behind us, she lamented. “The international rules-based trade system set up by the World Trade Organization worked for a long time,” Cutler said, “yet the idea that the United States hadn’t been benefitting from these international trade agreements is an issue that has been building up for many years.”

Cutler posited that on the domestic side, trade agreements serve as a scapegoat for economic anxiety in the United States. Though approximately
80% of job loss in the manufacturing sector can be attributed to technological innovation, she said, trade deals are nonetheless the primary target.

Cutler’s remarks, alongside those of program chair Mark Wu of Harvard University, opened the seventh annual Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program, which gathered students representing 22 countries – including Australia, China, Germany, Haiti, India, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, among others – in Washington, DC to discuss the future of public and private international law.

Since its founding in 2012, the Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program has carried forward Washington “super lawyer” Lloyd N. Cutler’s legacy and continues to empower rising legal professionals from around the world. Lloyd Cutler was a long-time champion and former chairman of Salzburg Global Seminar. He believed passionately in the role law plays in nation building, and in the ability of the law and legal experts to contribute solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

Wendy Cutler offered first-hand insight into the role of legal professionals at the Office of the US Trade Representative, as well as key advice for young lawyers as they enter into the next phase of their careers. She stressed the shifting global landscape is unknown territory for trade negotiators and lawyers in the Office of the US Trade Representative under the Trump administration, yet as career professionals, these individuals continue to be well respected, regardless of diverging domestic and international opinions on the current government’s trade policy.

Cutler’s candid reflections paved the way for another successful Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program. In addition to Cutler and Wu, the Cutler Fellows engaged with other prominent public servants and legal professionals over the two-day program, broadening their professional networks and exploring new ways to forge careers in international law – whatever the future may hold.


*Wendy Cutler bears no relation to Lloyd N. Cutler, for whom the Cutler Fellows Program is named.

The Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program is held under the auspices of the Lloyd N. Cutler Center for the Rule of Law. The annual program collaborates with 11 of the leading US law schools. This year’s program was sponsored by NYU Washington and Arnold & Porter. More information on the session is available here.

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