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Pottow, John A. E.

John Philip Dawson Collegiate Professor of Law

971A Legal Research

John A. E. Pottow, the John Philip Dawson Collegiate Professor of Law, is an internationally recognized expert in the field of bankruptcy and commercial law. His award-winning scholarship concentrates on the issues involved in the regulation of cross-border insolvencies as well as consumer financial distress. On behalf of the United States, Professor Pottow serves as a delegate to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). He has published in prominent legal journals in the United States and Canada and testified before Congress. An oft-invited lecturer, he has presented his works at academic conferences around the world and frequently provides commentary for national and international media outlets, such as NPR, CNBC, CNN, C-SPAN, Al Jazeera America, and the BBC. He also has litigated bankruptcy cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including his successful pro bono argument on behalf of the respondent in Executive Benefits Insurance Agency v. Arkison (2014).

Professor Pottow joined the faculty in 2003. Prior to coming to Michigan Law, he worked at several bankruptcy firms, including Weil, Gotshal and Manges of New York and the former Hill & Barlow of Boston. His practice focused on debtor representation in complex Chapter 11 restructurings. He also was an active litigator whose cases included representing a gender-based asylum seeker from Afghanistan in U.S. Immigration Court and a small bankruptcy party before the Supreme Court.

He holds an AB in psychology, summa cum laude, from Harvard College and a JD, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School, where he served as treasurer of the Harvard Law Review. Professor Pottow clerked for the Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin, chief justice of Canada, and the Hon. Guido Calabresi, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He is licensed as a barrister and solicitor in Ontario and as an attorney in Massachusetts and Michigan. In 2005, he was presented the L. Hart Wright Award for Excellence in Teaching and, in 2012, received a pro bono award from the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan. He is a member of the American College of Bankruptcy and the International Insolvency Institute.


Recent Publications

More Publications...

Cross-Border Corporate Insolvency in the Era of Soft(ish) Law. U of Michigan Law & Econ Research Paper No. 17-016. Working Paper.
Full Text: SSRN

"The Dialogic Aspect of Soft Law in International Insolvency: Discord, Digression, and Development." Mich. J. Int'l L. 40, no. 3 (2019): 479-503.
Full Text: MLaw Repository | Lexis | Westlaw

"Fiduciary Principles in Bankruptcy and Insolvency." In The Oxford Handbook of Fiduciary Law, edited by Evan J. Criddle, Paul B. Miller, and Robert H. Sitkoff, 205-25. Oxford Handbooks. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019.
Full Text: Oxford Handbooks Online (UMich users) | Oxford Handbooks Online

"A New Approach to Executory Contracts." Tex. L. Rev. 96, no. 7 (2018): 1437-72.
Full Text: MLaw Repository | HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN | Lexis | Westlaw | SSRN | WWW

"Rethinking Criminal Contempt in the Bankruptcy Courts." J. S. Levin, co-author. Am. Bankr. L.J. (2017): 311-74.
Full Text: MLaw Repository | HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN | Lexis | Westlaw | SSRN

"What Bankruptcy Law Can and Cannot Do for Puerto Rico." Revista jurdídica de la Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico 85, no. 3 (2016): 689-704.
Full Text: MLaw Repository | HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN | Lexis | Westlaw | WWW


Invited reviewer at conference focusing on minority legal academic job applicants (Prof. Dorothy Brown, convenor), Durham, May 2016.​

Invited panelist of Supreme Court litigators for American Bar Association Section of Litigation Annual Conference (Hon. John Hoffman, convenor), Chicago, April 2016. ​

Invited presenter at Law/Business Roundtable on Ethics of Bankruptcy (Profs. Ralph Brubaker, John Hasnas, and Heidi Hurd, convenors), Washington, D.C., March 2016. ​

Invited keynote speaker at University of Puerto Rico School of Law's Conference on Financial Crisis (Dean Vivian Neptune Rivera, convenor), San Juan, February 2016.​

Invited presenter at Annual Review of Insolvency Law (Prof. Janis Sarra, convenor), Vancouver, February 2016. ​

Invited presenter at Inaugural "DebtCon" Conference on Sovereign Debt (Profs. Anna Gelpern and Mitu Gulati, convenors), Washington, D.C., January 2016. ​

Invited presenter at Annual Conference of International Insolvency Institute (E. Bruce Leonard, Esq., convenor), Napoli, June 2015. ​

Invited keynote speaker at 15th Annual Judge Joe Lee Biannual Bankruptcy Conference (Kevin Bucknam, Esq., convenor), Lexington, June 2015.​

Invited keynote speaker at O'Neill Bankruptcy Bankruptcy Conference (Hon. Mary Ann Whipple, convenor), Cleveland, May 2015.

Invited presenter at National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys Annual Meeting (Henry Sommer, Esq., convenor), Chicago, April 2015. ​

Invited presenter at Financial Instruments and Insolvency Conference (Prof. Edward Janger, convenor), Brooklyn, March 2015. ​

Invited senior reviewer and commentator at Junior Bankruptcy Scholars Conference (Prof. Edward Janger, convenor), New York, November 2014. ​

Invited presenter at the 40th Annual Lawrence P. King and Charles Seligson Workshop on Bankruptcy and Business Reorganization (Prof. B. Adler, convenor), New York University School of Law, New York, September 2014.​

Invited keynote speaker at Federal Bar Association Annual Meeting (Hon. Scott Dales, convenor), Harbor Springs, Michigan, August 2014. ​

Invited presenter at the 2014 Midwest Regional Bankruptcy Seminar (Stephen Lerner, Esq., convenor), Cincinnati, August 2014.​

Invited keynote panelist for First Annual James T. King Bankruptcy Symposium Conference (Jon Hayes, Esq., convenor), Los Angeles, July 2014. ​

Invited presenter at "Choice of Law in Cross-Border Bankruptcy Cases" at Brooklyn Law School (Prof. Edward Janger, convenor), Brooklyn, March 2014. ​

Invited presenter on U.S. municipal bankruptcy at Annual Review of Insolvency Law (Prof. Janis Sarra, convenor), Vancouver, February 2014.​