By Mahsa Kashkooly 2L
On February 27, Moot Court team members Edith Polanco, Elizabeth Atkins, Daven Ghandi, Rachel Travis, and Danielle Tailleart will travel to Portland, Oregon to compete in the much-anticipated Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.
Jessup is the world’s largest moot court competition with over 550 law schools from more than 80 countries participating in the competition annually. One team is allowed to participate from every eligible school, and this year, Thomas Jefferson is sending the cream of the crop to bring back a victory.
The competition simulates a fictional dispute between countries and requires relentless time and dedication by the students who participate as it takes a year to work on the problem. However, as the old saying goes: “With great sacrifice comes great reward,” and these students have earned themselves just that.
“Competing in Jessup has been the single hardest thing I've done in law school thus far,” Elizabeth Atkins explained. “Being on Moot Court has given me the advanced skills necessary to thrive as a future lawyer. Since being on Moot Court I have written four appellate briefs, but writing an international brief (called a memorial) was something I never imagined I would do. The Jessup competition requires the advocates to learn international law by researching it, writing about it, and now arguing it; it expands the advocates’ understanding of law around the world. Oral argument for Jessup is an entirely different beast than other competitions because the cases have names like ‘Gabcikovo Nagymaros’ and each piece of law and every case you bring up has to be proven to be persuasive to the court.”
Daven Ghandi illustrated how the Jessup experience taught him multiple lessons that left lifelong impressions. “The team has learned about the various human rights struggles all over the world in the last century, including the situation in Crimea and the power struggle between Russia and Ukraine, which is the basis for this year’s Jessup problem.” Ghandi further added, “We are essentially being tested on situations that do not have a current solution and after reading through hundreds of pages of materials, with one case that is 471 pages-long, the team has crafted the most compelling arguments.”
Acting as “of counsel” for Jessup is Danielle Tailleart who applauded her teammates for “continuing to perform better at each practice.” Further adding, “I know that they will do phenomenal at the competition this weekend.” Edith Polanco added, “Participating in the Jessup Competition has been challenging but very rewarding. It has been great working with my team and I can definitely see an improvement with my writing and oral advocacy skills.”
Rachel Travis echoed her teammates’ sentiment stating, “Throughout the six months of research, writing, and oral argument practices our team has had the privilege of working side by side with some of the most brilliant minds in international law: Professors Slomanson, Schwabach, Cohn, Vandevelde, Wright, Keller, Wildenthal, Semeraro, and Jessup Advisor, Jesse Allen; each one playing an integral part in our team’s success.” Additionally, Travis has gained everlasting memories with her peers, stating, “My fellow teammates and I have all come a long way since our first meeting in August. We are now a little Jessup family that is excited and admittedly nervous for this upcoming weekend.”
Forming a shared bond over hard work and restless hours, each member additionally shared the deepest of gratitude in the efforts of the professors who generously gave their time to helping the Jessup competitors be their absolute best. With Atkins stating, “Seeing the Professors take time out of their busy schedules to help us in practices was an honor. The wealth of knowledge of international law in our professors has been tremendously helpful, and we thank them generously.”
If you see members of the Moot Court team passing in the hallway be sure to wish them luck for this is the opportunity of a lifetime to display their hard work and efforts in international law before the 550 competing law schools.