On February 27, 2014, the Thomas Jefferson School of Law Moot Court Honor Society sent its Philip C. Jessup team to compete in the 55th annual White & Case Jessup Cup Regional in Portland, Oregon. Representing TJSL were students Cristina Kinsella (3L), Randy Abreu (3L), Geoffrey Abram (3L), Shantelee Christie (3L), and John Stauffer (3L), with Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Linda Keller as their faculty advisor.
The International Jessup Cup comprises the world’s largest Moot Court competition. It is the only competition where every law school in the world has an opportunity to compete, with participants ranging from over 550 law schools in more than 80 countries. The competition simulates an international dispute between fictional countries before the International Court of Justice (‘ICJ’), the primary judicial branch of the United Nations.
This year’s competition challenged thousands of law students from around the world with a multitude of international legal issues. Our team thrived with the opportunity to work all year long on a conflict between two nations concerning: maritime development/environmental law, maritime salvage rights, criminal procedure and criminal jurisdiction on the high seas.
The competition consisted of twenty Jessup teams from our West Coast law school compatriots.
In Friday’s preliminary rounds the team competed against the University of Montana and Boalt Hall (U.C. Berkley), winning both rounds to enter into Saturday’s prelims with a 2-0 record.
Saturday morning was the toughest round against University of Denver, where TJSL Applicants defeated the University of Denver. With a 3-0 record and only one round to go, the team had (unknowingly) placed itself in a position to advance to the Quarterfinals. The final preliminary round resulted in a loss against U.C. Irvine, seeding the team 6th overall in the competition. In the Quarterfinal round the TJSL Respondents went up against none other than U.C. Irvine (3rd seed) for a highly contested rematch of Saturday’s earlier round. This marked the final round of the competition, with a 6th place overall finish and 11th place for Memorial scores (Jessup’s brief-writing portion to the ICJ). Both Applicants (Cristina Kinsella, 3L, and Randy Abreu, 3L) placed in the top thirty of nearly 100 oralists in the competition.
“This was my first Moot Court competition in Law School, thus I had no preconceived notions of what to do when my time came to be in front of the judges,” said Randy Abreu (3L). “I kept my cool, learned as much international law and history as I could, put everything I had out on the table, and came away feeling great because I did my best. Not to mention I was just one part of an amazing team with an amazing finish!”
“My experience on the Jessup Team and during competition has reinforced the whole idea that hard work pays off,” said Shantelee Christie (3L). “It was awesome to be recognized in the Top Six!”
The team was grateful for the dedication put forth by Dean Keller and TJSL professors and alumni for educating them on the subject of international law. “It was a pleasure to work with the Jessup team again,” said Dean Linda Keller. “This extraordinarily dedicated group of students did a fantastic job both in advancing to the Quarterfinals at regionals and in representing TJSL at a very intense competition.”
Professors William Slomanson and Aaron Schwabach devoted educational lectures and much time in helping judge practice rounds. Several TJSL Jessup Alumni and current Moot Court members helped the team prepare, along with Professors Paul Spiegelman, Jeff Slattery, Joy Delman, Marybeth Herald, Mel Schwarz, Associate Dean William Byrnes, and other local attorneys. “These professors and other practitioners gave us the opportunity to prepare thoroughly and make it as far as we did,” said John Stauffer, 3L. “This competition was the ultimate test in my final year of law school. Everyone came together to give their unique and valuable input, and as a team we joined forces to put our best foot forward and make it a memorable experience.”
The Moot Court Honor Society of TJSL is currently forming the next Jessup team, with high expectations for the future of the competition at our law school. Cristina Kinsella, 3L, competed for the last two years and has been at the forefront in keeping a thriving interest in the Jessup competition. Kinsella and all of the team’s members will be graduating this May, but they have devoted themselves to initiating the next Jessup team which will be coached by TJSL Alumnus and former Jessup competitor Jesse Allen ‘13.
“This was the best finish for a TJSL team in the Portland Regional competition,” said Geoffrey Abram, 3L. "We couldn't be happier that we made it to the regional quarterfinals, two arguments away from World finals in Washington D.C. We've shown future teams that with some hard work, it's within reach."