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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 on the delegation to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). In addition, he is the co-author of one of the leading bankruptcy textbooks in the country: The Law of Debtors and Creditors (7th edition, with The Hon. Elizabeth Warren, Professor Jay Westbrook, and The Hon. Katie Porter). 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 | SSRN

"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

"Bankruptcy Fiduciary Duties in the World of Claims Trading." Brook. J. Corp. Fin. & Com. L. 13, no. 1 (2018): 87-98.
Full Text: MLaw Repository | HEIN (UMich users) | HEIN | Lexis | Westlaw | WWW

"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

"International Insolvency Law's Cross-Roads and the New Modularity." In United Nations 50th Anniversary World Congress Collection, edited by Caroline Nicholas, Vienna, July 4-6, 2017. Modernizing International Trade Law to Support Innovation and Sustainable Development, 4. Vienna: United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, 2017.
Full Text: WWW

"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 keynote speaker at International Comparative Insolvency Symposium, Miami, Florida, November 2019.

Invited chair of Academic Plenary Session for International Insolvency Institute Annual Conference, Barcelona, Spain, June 2019.

Invited commentator at Culp Colloquium for minority junior legal scholars, Durham, North Carolina, May 2019.

Invited chair and commentator at DebtCon conference on sovereign debt, Washington, D.C., April 2019.

Invited presenter at the American College of Bankruptcy panel on cross-border insolvency issues, San Diego, California, March 2019.

Invited keynote at the Jay L. Westbrook Annual Conference, Austin, Texas, November 2018.

Invited presenter at the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges panel on international insolvency issues, San Antonio, Texas, October 2018.

Invited presenter for Brooklyn Journal of Commercial Financial and Commercial Law Symposium on Decision Making and Legitimacy in Public Bankruptcies, Brooklyn, New York, March 2018.

Convener (and presenter) of Festschrift for Professor Jay Lawrence Westbrook, possibly the largest U.S. academic bankruptcy conference ever assembled, Austin, Texas, February 2018.