MLaw students examine the future of International Law as Cutler Fellows


By Jordan Poll
U-M Law

At a time when questions surrounding international law are increasingly complex, 56 students from 11 leading American law schools gathered recently to join this conversation for the fifth annual Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program.

At this two-day event in Washington, D.C., students heard from prominent legal professionals and public servants, including Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank, and Jared Genser, ‘01, founder of Freedom Now, a nonprofit organization aiming to free prisoners of conscience around the world.

Michigan Law was represented by LLMs Chun-Han Chen, Farshad Rahimi Dizgovin, and Francis “Tom” Temprosa, 3L Yekaterina “Katie” Reyzis, and 1L Han “Jason” Zhu. They were accompanied by Catharine MacKinnon, the Elizabeth A. Long Professor of Law.

This year’s group of Cutler Fellows was the largest and most diverse to date, collectively representing 26 countries, including Australia, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Iran, and the United States. “Getting to know people from various cultural, legal, and social backgrounds allows you to realize that in spite of differences we can still work together,” said Dizgovin. “These kinds of events remind us that we are not only responsible for ourselves and our country, we are responsible for the whole world. We have only one Earth to live in, and thus its problems and fortunes are the problems and fortunes of all of us.”

Throughout the conference, students worked closely with faculty advisers from each of the participating law schools—including the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Duke University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, New York University, the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, the University of Virginia, and Yale University—on research papers tackling issues ranging from human rights to monetary law. “Conversations like the ones fostered at the Cutler Conference promote exactly what is missing in many discussions of the most important international human rights issues of our time—intersectionality,” said Reyzis.

Students engaged in small group discussions exploring how legal training can be used for the public good. These discussions were facilitated by Michael Bahar, staff director and general counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; Katrin Kuhlmann, president and founder of New Markets Lab; Gomiluk Otokwala, counsel at the International Monetary Fund; and Mark Vlasic, senior fellow and adjunct professor at Georgetown Law and principal at Madison Law & Strategy Group.

“It’s easy to become cynical working on challenging and sensitive international legal issues year after year, without seeing concrete change,” said Reyzis. “But coming together with like-minded and passionate colleagues, leaders of our generation, granted me a glimpse into the future that reaches far beyond the academic aspects of the issues we discussed. I was inspired and humbled by my colleagues at the conference, and I thank them for reinvigorating the idealism and hope I had when I began pursuing a career in international law.”

The Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program is named in memory of Lloyd N. Cutler, the Washington “Super Lawyer” who served as White House counsel to Presidents Carter and Clinton. Cutler also served as chair of Salzburg Global Seminar’s Board of Directors for a decade and believed firmly in the power of mentoring young leaders with a commitment to making the world a better place through legal practice and the rule of law.

The Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program was founded in 2012 by Salzburg Global Seminar to carry forward Lloyd Cutler’s legacy and to empower the next generation of legal professionals. This year’s program was sponsored by NYU Washington and Arnold & Porter.