Jay Butler, an expert in international law and corporate social responsibility, will serve as a visiting professor at the University of Virginia School of Law this year.

Butler, an associate professor of law at William & Mary Law School, will teach International Business Transactions at UVA Law in the fall.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work more closely with UVA’s distinguished faculty for the fall semester and look forward to engaging with students, as the issues on which I work are now particularly timely,” he said.

Butler’s scholarship explores the emerging role of corporations as enforcers of international law and interrogates their power in global governance and policymaking.

“As more and more state functions are privatized, my work confronts how international law and global institutions can harness corporations to advance social good,” Butler said.

This debate is again in the news because of the urgent search by multinational pharmaceutical companies for a COVID-19 vaccine.

“These companies have coordinated their efforts via the World Health Organization, and the WHO will need to ensure that the vaccine, once discovered, is distributed fairly,” Butler explained.

His broader research also explores enduring issues of international significance. His forthcoming article “Why Do Corporations Obey International Law?” constructs a general theory of business acceptance of international obligations and explores how officials can structure incentives to ensure better compliance.

Another paper, “The Corporate Keepers of International Law,” became the lead article in the Spring 2020 issue of the American Journal of International Law and was selected for the Yale/Harvard/Stanford Junior Faculty Forum in 2019. The paper examines the business of international law enforcement and grapples with the potential of corporations to serve as keepers of international law.

In 2018, Butler was awarded the Lieber Prize by the American Society of International Law for his paper “Amnesty for Even the Worst Offenders.” That article argues that the international community must consider how the principle of accountability may aggravate conflict and recasts the amnesty debate within the paradigm of human security to suggest alternative means of conflict resolution. In 2018, his work also won him a Law and Public Affairs Fellowship at Princeton University.

Butler previously served as the Kellis E. Parker Teaching Fellow at Columbia Law School and has taught as a visitor at Yale Law School and the George Washington University Law School.

Earlier in his career, he clerked for Judges Hisashi Owada and Giorgio Gaja of the International Court of Justice and worked as a legal adviser to the Japanese government. He earned his J.D. from Yale Law School, a B.A. in history from Harvard University and a B.A. in jurisprudence from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar.

“I’m excited to welcome Jay Butler to the Law School,” Dean Risa Goluboff said. “His scholarship has rightfully garnered accolades and attention, and I know that our faculty and students will enjoy engaging with his unique perspective on the intersection of business and international law.”

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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