PUBLISHED:March 04, 2020

Duke Law students explore international legal challenges as Cutler fellows


The annual program brings together top law students and leading professionals in international law and public service for networking and mentoring in Washington, D.C.

Prof. Laurence Helfer with (clockwise) Salzburg Cutler Fellows Olonyi Bosire LLM ’20, Tobias Wetlitzky LLM ’20, Scott Boisvert JD/LLM ’20, and Enning Chang LLM ’20 Prof. Laurence Helfer with (clockwise) Salzburg Cutler Fellows Olonyi Bosire LLM ’20, Tobias Wetlitzky LLM ’20, Scott Boisvert JD/LLM ’20, and Enning Chang LLM ’20

Four Duke Law students were among 56 from the nation’s leading law schools to explore the future of public and private international law through the Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program, held Feb. 20 to 22 in Washington, D.C.

Scott Boisvert JD/LLM ’20 and three internationally trained attorneys in the Law School’s LLM class of 2020, Olonyi Bosire of Kenya, Enning Chang of China, and Tobias Wetlitzky of Germany, were chosen as Cutler fellows based on academic excellence and their interest in international and public interest law. They were accompanied by Laurence R. Helfer, the Harry R. Chadwick, Sr. Professor of Law and co-director of the Center for International and Comparative Law, who served as Duke Law’s faculty advisor to the program.

The Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program annually gives law students opportunities to learn from and be mentored by prominent legal professionals, public servants, and leaders in the fields of international law and public service. The program’s theme: how international law and legal systems can tackle a range of global challenges.

Advisors critiqued the students’ research papers on topics including domestic violence, LGBTQ rights activism, international environmental criminal law, and investment and sovereign lending in Africa, and gave them advice on pitching their articles to law journals.

They also had the opportunity to discuss their personal career goals and potential pathways in international law with mentors from Third Way, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, New Markets Lab, the International Monetary Fund, and Covington & Burling.

“I’ve been able to find a community of like-minded peers that is not only similar in their interests, but who are equally ambitious in their dreams and goals,” Boisvert said. “At the Cutler Fellows program, there are people looking to engage actively in the same issues as you and it’s not purely out of academic interests but also true emotion and passion.”

Program speakers included Chief Judge Diane P. Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for The Seventh Circuit; Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States; John B. Bellinger III, partner at Arnold & Porter and former legal advisor to the U.S. Department of State and National Security Council; and Stephen J. Hadley, principal of RiceHadleyGates and former U.S. national security advisor.

Bellinger and Hadley discussed war powers, reflecting on the evolution of Congress’s war-making authority since the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force and the War Powers Resolution recently passed by both houses of Congress that President Donald Trump has promised to veto. Almagro spoke about the conventions underpinning international human rights laws and the role of the OAS in upholding them. 

Judge Wood discussed 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.

The 2020 cohort of Cutler fellows collectively represented 13 countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Kenya, Nepal, the Republic of Korea, and the U.S. In addition to Duke Law, participating law schools included Columbia University, Cornell University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, New York University, Northwestern University, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia, and Yale University.

Established in 2012, the Salzburg, Austria-based Cutler Fellows Program honors the legacy of Lloyd N. Cutler, White House General Counsel to U.S. Presidents Carter and Clinton. The program has more than 350 alumni around the world.

“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,” said Stephen L. Salyer, president of Salzburg Global Seminar.