Julian Ara­to, a pre­em­i­nent emerg­ing voice on inter­na­tion­al law and the glob­al econ­o­my, joins the Michi­gan Law faculty.

Julian Ara­to, one of the nation’s pre­mier emerg­ing voic­es on inter­na­tion­al law, is join­ing the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan Law School fac­ul­ty. Arato’s arrival fur­ther ele­vates the institution’s robust posi­tion as a schol­ar­ly leader in the ever-evolv­ing field of inter­na­tion­al law.

Michi­gan Law has played a sig­nif­i­cant role in devel­op­ing and con­cep­tu­al­iz­ing inter­na­tion­al law and has had amaz­ing suc­cess in gen­er­at­ing top-flight prac­ti­tion­ers in the field,” Ara­to said. I am so excit­ed to join this spe­cial tra­di­tion at Michi­gan and help take it forward.”

The New York native’s arrival in Ann Arbor as a pro­fes­sor of law fol­lows his sev­en-year run at Brook­lyn Law School, where Ara­to served as pro­fes­sor of law and asso­ciate dean of fac­ul­ty research and scholarship.

It was there that Ara­to solid­i­fied his rep­u­ta­tion as a notable schol­ar of inter­na­tion­al law through his pro­lif­ic pub­li­ca­tion of arti­cles on inter­na­tion­al eco­nom­ic law, includ­ing the legal regimes gov­ern­ing trade and for­eign direct invest­ment, as well as inter­na­tion­al dis­pute res­o­lu­tion, the law of treaties, and pri­vate law theory.

His 2019 arti­cle titled The Pri­vate Law Cri­tique of Inter­na­tion­al Invest­ment Law” won that year’s Fran­cis Deák Prize for best arti­cle by a younger author pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Inter­na­tion­al Law (AJIL).

International law is the wild west for lawyers because the sources of law are so numerous and complex, and so often need to be interpreted and reinterpreted in the context of a dramatically changed world.

Inter­na­tion­al law is the wild west for lawyers because the sources of law are so numer­ous and com­plex, and so often need to be inter­pret­ed and rein­ter­pret­ed in the con­text of a dra­mat­i­cal­ly changed world,” Ara­to said. He not­ed that inter­na­tion­al law touch­es on every­thing from mun­dane aspects of dai­ly life like postage and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions to high-lev­el mat­ters such as war and peace or the gov­er­nance of glob­al emer­gen­cies like pan­demics. All of this makes inter­na­tion­al law an excit­ing field for schol­ars and makes for an excit­ing career as a lawyer.” 

Leader in schol­ar­ship and active in governance

Ara­to is high­ly involved in the wider inter­na­tion­al law com­mu­ni­ty. Ear­li­er this year, he was elect­ed to the AJIL Board of Edi­tors, and he has served as edi­tor of the AJIL Inter­na­tion­al Deci­sions Sec­tion since 2020. He cur­rent­ly co-chairs the Aca­d­e­m­ic Forum on Investor-State Dis­pute Set­tle­ment (ISDS) and is co-edi­tor of The Law of the World Trade Orga­ni­za­tion, an open-access case­book on inter­na­tion­al trade law.

Ara­to also serves in var­i­ous lead­er­ship posi­tions with the Amer­i­can Soci­ety of Inter­na­tion­al Law (ASIL), includ­ing recent­ly serv­ing on the ASIL Exec­u­tive Council. 

Active in gov­er­nance, Ara­to has been an observ­er del­e­gate to the Unit­ed Nations Com­mis­sion on Inter­na­tion­al Trade Law (UNCI­TRAL) Work­ing Group III since 2018, which is work­ing on mul­ti­lat­er­al reforms to ISDS. In that role, he has helped sov­er­eigns, gov­ern­ments, and inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions under­stand the mean­ing and impact of inter­na­tion­al invest­ment law and dis­pute settlement.

Par­tic­i­pa­tion in this forum has been a rare oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­tribute to reform­ing a very prob­lem­at­ic field of law, one which has an out­sized impact on investors, peo­ples, and gov­ern­ments in the real world,” Ara­to said of his UNCI­TRAL service.

In June, the Euro­pean Union named Ara­to to its new­ly pub­lished ros­ter of suit­able can­di­dates for serv­ing as an arbi­tra­tor in inter­na­tion­al trade dis­putes under the EUs var­i­ous trade agree­ments. He also was named to the new ros­ter of suit­able can­di­dates to serve as an expert on trade and sus­tain­able devel­op­ment dis­putes under those same treaties. 

Arato’s inter­est in inter­na­tion­al law bloomed dur­ing a for­ma­tive intern­ship with the Unit­ed Nations Inter­na­tion­al Law Com­mis­sion. At the UN Office in Gene­va, he worked for then-Com­mis­sion Mem­ber Georg Nolte on the cod­i­fi­ca­tion and pro­gres­sive devel­op­ment of inter­na­tion­al law, with a focus on the law of treaties.

I found myself ful­ly in the fur­nace, expect­ed to do cut­ting-edge schol­ar­ly research across numer­ous inter­na­tion­al courts and tri­bunals on an ever-grow­ing array of gran­u­lar but very impor­tant legal ques­tions,” Ara­to said. The expe­ri­ence involved a steep learn­ing curve, but I learned much about the state of legal doc­trine and even more about the mak­ing of inter­na­tion­al law, the dynam­ics of inter­na­tion­al insti­tu­tions, and, most impor­tant­ly, the stakes of it all.”

Explor­ing equi­ty and fair­ness through law and the glob­al economy

In recent years, Arato’s schol­ar­ship has focused on the rela­tion­ship between inter­na­tion­al law and the glob­al econ­o­my. He is espe­cial­ly focused on under­stand­ing and reform­ing inter­na­tion­al invest­ment law and arbi­tra­tion, bring­ing per­spec­tives from pri­vate law the­o­ry to devel­op a more equi­table reme­di­al system. 

Ulti­mate­ly, I am inter­est­ed in mak­ing the world a more equal and fair­er place,” Ara­to said. These macro ques­tions of inequal­i­ty, fair­ness, and jus­tice on the inter­na­tion­al stage appeal to me pre­cise­ly because our glob­al soci­ety con­tin­ues to fall so short in secur­ing these values.”

At Michi­gan Law, Ara­to will teach cours­es on pub­lic inter­na­tion­al law, inter­na­tion­al eco­nom­ic law, and first-year con­tracts. In every class he leads, he aims to help stu­dents under­stand the broad­er social and polit­i­cal impli­ca­tions of their pro­fes­sion­al efforts.

We need to appre­ci­ate these real­i­ties, because as lawyers we engage every day in a pow­er­ful social prac­tice that shapes our indi­vid­ual and col­lec­tive lives — in innu­mer­able ways,” he said.

Ara­to earned his JD/LLM from the NYU School of Law and his JSD from Colum­bia Law School. Before enter­ing acad­e­mia, he worked in the inter­na­tion­al arbi­tra­tion group at Fresh­fields Bruck­haus Deringer. 

—Daniel P. Smith