John A. E. Pottow

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John Anthony Edwards Pottow[1] is a professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School, specializing in international commercial law, bankruptcy and consumer finance.[2] Pottow has testified before Congressional committees on the subject of bankruptcy and consumer matters, and was one of three lawyers commissioned by the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) Congressional Oversight Panel to offer outside expert legal opinions on the Home Affordable Modification Program and TARP.

Early life and education[edit]

Pottow was born in Canada.[3] He graduated from Upper Canada College in 1989.[4] He received an A.B. summa cum laude in psychology, Phi Beta Kappa,[5] from Harvard College in 1993,[2][6] While at Harvard, Pottow received the John Harvard Annual Scholarship all four years, and was awarded the Gordon Allport Prize in Psychology and the Thomas T. Hoopes, Class of 1919, Prize.[5] Pottow also hosted a jazz program on WHRB-FM, and was a member of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals group and crew team and student conductor of the Harvard University Band.[5][7] As a freshman, Pottow attended the last lecture ever delivered by B. F. Skinner.[3] Pottow was interested in psycholinguistics and studied under social psychologist Roger Brown, who encouraged Pottow to pursue the practice of law.[8][9] He was also a student under professor Elizabeth Warren, which later developed into a professional collaboration.[10]

From 1993 to 1994, Pottow worked at Eos Partners, LP, a private equity hedge fund in New York, as chief financial officer.[8][11]

Pottow earned his J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was treasurer of the Harvard Law Review, in 1997.[2][3] At Harvard Law School, Pottow was a National Scholar.[5] Between his first and second years of law school, Pottow was a research assistant to Professor Arthur R. Miller on the supplement to Federal Practice and Procedure, co-authored by Miller, Charles Alan Wright, and Edward H. Cooper.[5][11]


Pottow served as a law clerk to Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1997 to 1998 and to Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of the Supreme Court of Canada from 1998 to 1999.[2][3][6] Pottow entered private practice, first as a litigation associate at Hill & Barlow in Boston from 1999 to 2002,[5] and then as of counsel at Weil, Gotshal & Manges in New York from 2002 to 2003.[2][6][11]

Pottow joined the Michigan Law faculty in 2003 and received tenure in 2008.[2][6] At Michigan, Pottow has taught international bankruptcy, bankruptcy, contracts, secured transactions, law and economics and other business courses, and served as the project director of the National Consumer Bankruptcy Project.[2][5] Pottow has testified before congressional committees several times.[12][13] In 2009, Pottow, Steven P. Croley, and Eric Posner were commissioned by the Troubled Asset Relief Program Congressional Oversight Panel to provide outside legal opinions on the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and TARP.[11][14]

Pottow has written on the "stickiness of default rules,"[15] on elder bankruptcy,[16] and on the effects of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, which significantly revised the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.[17] He has critiqued the nondischargeability of student loan debt in personal bankruptcy proceedings.[6][18] Pottow has also written extensively on international business law issues.[6] He was elected to the International Insolvency Institute in 2010 and won the Institute's first annual prize for international insolvency research.[2][19][20]

Pottow has provided commentary on legal issues in a variety of forums including New York Times,[21] USA Today,[22] and NPR.[2][3][23] He has been an expert witness in several commercial law cases.[11] He is a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute and is a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute Law Review advisory board.[24] He won the 2005 L. Hart Wright Award for Excellence in Teaching at Michigan in 2005.[2] Pottow was a visiting professor at Harvard in fall 2008.[11]

Pottow was admitted to the bar in Massachusetts (in 1999) and Michigan (in 2011).[1][2][25] He is also a licensed barrister and solicitor in Ontario.[2]

Pottow is an occasional contributor to Credit Slips, a scholarly blog on credit, finance, and bankruptcy.[2][26]

Personal life[edit]

Pottow is married to Dr. Reshma Jagsi, a radiation oncologist and professor at the University of Michigan Medical School; they have two children.[27][28] Pottow holds American, Canadian, and European Union citizenship.[3]

Pottow is a political independent.[29] He speaks American Sign Language and French.[11]


  1. ^ a b John Anthony Edwards Pottow—P74675, State Bar of Michigan.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m John A. E. Pottow, University of Michigan Law School.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Sheila Pursglov. Professor helps students to tame the 'Wild West' of bankruptcy law (June 7, 2012). Legal News.
  4. ^ Announcements, Old Times 35 (Summer/Fall 2010).
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Faculty, Law Quadrangle Notes (summer 2002).
  6. ^ a b c d e f Promotion Recommendation: The University of Michigan Law School (approved by the Regents on May 15, 2008).
  7. ^ Maya E. Fischhoff, Housing Lottery Randomizes 12% (Apr. 4, 1992), Harvard Crimson.
  8. ^ a b Mike Murphy and Matt Nolan, "Our Neighbor from the North: A Chat with Professor Pottow, Eh?," Res Gestae, Vol. 55, No. 16 (Apr. 12, 2005).
  9. ^ Correspondence between Brown and Pottow is included in the Papers of Roger W. Brown, 1954-1997, Box 18, at the Harvard University Archives.
  10. ^ Margie Kelley, Teaching Lessons (Summer 2002), Harvard Law Bulletin; see also Shira Schoenberg, At Harvard, Elizabeth Warren known as tough, demanding, dynamic professor (May 13, 2012). Republican.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g John A. E. Pottow - Biography, International Insolvency Institute.
  12. ^ Testimony before the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, Medical Debt: Is Our Healthcare System Bankrupting Americans? (July 28, 2009).
  13. ^ Testimony and video before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts, Medical Debt: Can Bankruptcy Reform Facilitate a Fresh Start (Oct. 20, 2009).
  14. ^ Congress Oversight Panel: April Oversight Report (Apr. 14, 2010). Government Printing Office.
  15. ^ Omri Ben-Shahar & John A. E. Pottow, On the Stickiness of Default Rules, 33 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 651 (2006).
  16. ^ John A. E. Pottow, The Rise in Elder Bankruptcy Filings and Failure of U.S. Bankruptcy Law, 19 Elder L.J. 119 (2011).
  17. ^ Robert M. Lawless, Angela K. Littwin, Katherine M. Porter, John A. E. Pottow, Deborah K. Thorne, & Elizabeth Warren, Did Bankruptcy Reform Fail? An Empirical Study of Consumer Debtors, 82 Am. Bankr. L.J. 349 (2008); John A. E. Pottow, The Totality of the Circumstances of Debtor's Financial Situation in a Post-Means Test World, 71 Mo. L. Rev. 1053 (2006).
  18. ^ The Nondischargeability of Student Loans in Personal Bankruptcy Proceedings: The Search for a Theory, Canadian Bus. L. J. 44, 245-78, no. 2 (2007). See also Deanne Loonin, Guest Post, A Bankrupt Policy (Dec. 3, 2008 11:45 A.M.). New America Foundation.
  19. ^ Pottow, John A. E., International Insolvency Institute (accessed Nov. 10, 2012).
  20. ^ Faculty, L. Quad. Notes (spring 2006). The prize was for the paper, Greed and Pride in International Bankruptcy: The Problems of and Proposed Solutions to "Local Interests", 106 Mich. L. Rev. 1899 (2006).
  21. ^ Ken Belson and Alison Leigh Cowan, Mets Owners Hope Courts Will Limit Liability, N.Y. Times (Feb. 28, 2011).
  22. ^ Dennis Cauchon, Bankruptcy a Reprieve For Some Companies, USA Today (Jan. 22, 2012).
  23. ^ E.g., interview on Washington Journal, C-SPAN.
  24. ^ ABI Law Review Advisory Board, American Bankruptcy Institute (accessed Nov. 10, 2012).
  25. ^ Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers - Attorney Lookup (search for "John Pottow").
  26. ^ Posts by John A. E. Pottow, Credit Slips: A Discussion of Credit, Finance, and Bankruptcy.
  27. ^ Reshma Jagsi - Physician Faculty Scholars, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  28. ^ Reshma Jagsi, University of Michigan Heath System.
  29. ^ Elizabeth Warren & LTV Steel, Credit Slips (Oct. 4, 2012 9:34 PM); Bankruptcy and Politics: Junior Senator from Massachusetts Edition, Credit Slips (Nov. 11, 2012, 4:08 PM).