Janos Fiala-Butora (LEGS ’04)

January 24, 2018

Janos is a human rights lawyer, academic and policy analyst. He currently serves as Director of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability’s Central Europe Program. He’s also done stints as visiting lecturer at CEU as well as a resarcher at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA). 

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your current position?

I think of myself as a human rights lawyer, arguing cases before courts. I’m trying to improve people’s lives in some way through human rights, which is a tool CEU gave me.

How do you feel CEU impacted the work you do now?

My life had a ‘before and after CEU’ division. I didn’t really understand what human rights entailed before I got here. I had only a basic understanding. Here I learned that someone can be dedicated to human rights and make a living. That might sounds bad, but it’s important. Here it went from a hobby and a passion to serious work.

What do you feel is CEU’s core relevance these days, as a university and as a community?

It became obvious to everybody how important CEU is for academic life in Hungary, and Central Europe in general. Even its competitors stood up for CEU. Without CEU Hungary would be much poorer. [The crisis regarding CEU's possible closure] showed that the situation in Hungary is not as hopeless as we sometimes think. It also raised expectations. If we claim to be the best university in the region, we had better be. It should be in the back of our minds in whatever we do.

What do you miss about your student days?

It’s amazing how much longer the days were back then.

What role does the CEU alumni community play in your life?

My wife, Erika (LEGS ’09), is a graduate. But, otherwise, the community doesn’t meet as often as we could.