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Penn Law students travel to Washington to explore how they can apply legal training to public service on a global stage

March 01, 2018

Students from Penn Law were selected to join their peers from 10 other leading US law schools in Washington, DC last weekend to explore the future of public and private international law at the sixth annual Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program.

Students included Benjamin (Ben) Barsky, Beatriz Brown, John Morgan, Shaunee Morgan, and Benjamin (Ben) Weitz. They were joined by faculty representative, Rangita de Silva de Alwis, Associate Dean for International Programs. William Burke-White, Penn Law’s Richard Perry Professor, inaugural Director of the Perry World House, and Professor of Law, served as Chair of the Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program.

Over two days, February 23-24, the Cutler Fellows engaged with prominent legal professionals and public servants, including Diane Wood, Chief Judge of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals; William H. Webster, former FBI and CIA director; and Ivan Šimonović, the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect.

The Fellows also worked with faculty advisors from each of the participating law schools – which also included Columbia University, Duke University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, New York University, Stanford University, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, University of Virginia, and Yale University – to sharpen their research papers tackling issues in international law ranging from trade and investment law to the law of war.

The sixth cohort of Cutler Fellows collectively represented 23 countries, including Argentina, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Pakistan, as well as the USA.

Opening the program on Friday at the United States Institute of Peace, Judge Wood emphasized that international law is closer and more relevant to the students’ future in legal practice than they might anticipate.

While international legal frameworks put in place since World War Two have fostered the effortless flow of ideas, goods, and services around the world, Wood said, challenges have also emerged, including drug trade, online financial scams, and human trafficking.

“The borderless world has some sinister consequences too,” Wood said, “but these are things that we are dealing with right now in the courts.”

Faculty representatives Matthew Waxman of Columbia Law School and Alex Whiting of Harvard Law School engaged in a luncheon discussion with the Fellows focusing on the role and recent developments of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Whiting spoke from his experience in the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC from 2010-13.

On Friday evening, former FBI and CIA director Judge Webster joined in a conversation with John B. Bellinger, III, former US Legal Adviser, reflecting on recent events in the United States and calling for the restoration of the values of public service and fierce integrity across party lines.

The following morning at New York University’s Washington campus, Šimonović offered the Fellows advice based on his own work in diplomacy, justice, and international institutions. Recalling his experience as a member of the Croatian Delegation at the 1995 Dayton Peace Talks, Šimonović said, “Always remember the importance of cultural context in international negotiations.”

The Fellows were also joined on Saturday by mentors from institutions including the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and New Markets Lab to discuss how legal training can be used for the public good. Two mentors, Joseph Klingler and Eric Lorber, described their journeys from their participation as students in the Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program to their current work as an associate at Foley Hoag LLP and senior advisor to the Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the US Treasury Department, respectively.

At the end of this year’s program, Stephen L. Salyer, Salzburg Global Seminar President and co-founder of the Lloyd N. Cutler Center for the Rule of Law, announced the opportunity for students to submit applications to travel to Salzburg, Austria – the home of Salzburg Global Seminar – in May 2018 to serve as rapporteur at this year’s high-level meeting of the Public Sector Strategy Network, a multi-year initiative run in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court and apolitical.

“This program is unlike anything else in the world, and beyond what even the top law schools can offer,” said Burke-White. “The Fellows interact closely with top specialists in their fields of interest and scholarship, and gain access to a lasting network of peers and mentors.”