New to Pitt: Law school position a return home for Kotuby

Charles Kotuby (first row, second from right) on the Pitt varsity soccer team in the 1990s


Charles Kotuby became a new Pitt faculty member this fall — but he is not new to teaching or to Pitt.

Kotuby was an all-around student-athlete as an undergraduate here (1993-97): a three-year letterman on the varsity men’s soccer team, Honor’s College member and winner of the 1997 Schenker Prize for the most outstanding honors thesis from the economics department, from which he graduated with a dual degree in history and minors in Russian and German.

“I had a great time” on the soccer team, he said, “and Pitt athletics department has meant a lot to me in my career and in my life. That really left a mark on me.”

He returned here for law school, where he met his wife, then clerked for a federal judge in Pittsburgh, before joining the law firm of Jones Day for the past 17 years. There he worked in international law, helping create its global disputes practice and making partner in 2013.

Then in January he received a call from Ronald Brand, academic director of the law school’s Center for International Legal Education (CILE). Kotuby had worked as a student research assistant for Brand, and now Brand was inviting Kotuby to return to Pitt on Sept. 1 to teach courses on international arbitration and oversee CILE’s academic programs and planning.

All along, Kotuby had been teaching at Washington and Lee University as well as American University in Washington, D.C., while handling cases for energy companies and disputes between states.

“It was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” he said, “to be able to come home to Pitt” and bring more experience to bear on CILE programs.

Corporations and countries engaged in legal disputes “want to have some certainty over where they’re going to be heard,” Kotuby said. He has been involved, and still works as counsel in, large, lengthy, multinational cases, but he still felt “I’m not having a big enough impact on this conversation, just acting as a counsel. I wanted to be in a position where I am able to speak more freely. Having Pitt Law as a platform is where I can do this,” and have more impact on students, he said.

After all, those students can have a very direct influence on international jurisprudence. One former CILE master’s degree holder, for instance, was recently named president of Kosovo.

“I think the quality of the student body as a whole is much more diverse,” he said after being back just a short time, “not just ethnically, but much more with a national outlook, a global outlook. I think it’s terrific.”

He is still living in Alexandria, Va., where he has three kids, and commutes two days a week, sometimes staying with family, who are all close by. They include his sister, his brother Clint (Pitt track and cross country, 2000-2004) and his father, Charles Sr., recently retired as head track and field coach of Riverside High School in Beaver after seven WPIAL team titles.

“South Oakland looks the same,” Kotuby said, but “the soccer stadium looks incredible,” referring to Ambrose Urbanic Field near the top of campus. Kotuby’s team had played in Pitt Stadium.

“It is really rare to do what I did — leave in the middle of a law partnership,” he added. “However, I like to build things, and … building the law school was one thing that really attracted me to come back to Pitt.”

Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-758-4859.


Have a story idea or news to share? Share it with the University Times.

Follow the University Times on Twitter and Facebook.