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"Your excellencies, and may it please the court": Jessup

WC Jessup On February 24 and 25, five students and two professors from the WVU College of Law traveled to Houston, TX to represent the law school in the  Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. After months of sweat and tears (but luckily no blood that I know of) of intense research of international law, we argued against other schools in the region such as Mississippi College, University of Florida, University of Miami, and South Texas University.

Ultimately, the WVU team did not advance to the semifinals, but we did indeed take home a prize: 2nd Best Memorial. We will proudly display this award on the wall outside the Lugar Courtroom. The last time WVU brought home a prize from the Jessup competition was back in the late 1970s.

After about 5 months of working almost daily with the issues—the problem was released in October – now that the competition is over, I must admit, I feel a little hole in my life.

Jessup was, by far, my favorite aspect of law school. It challenged me and yet was fun and fascinating. I learned international law to a depth that I never would have been able to glean from just the class because I researched issues pertinent in today’s world. While the problems (called the “Compromis” as it is in front of the International Court of Justice) are entirely made up, they still draw from very timely issues.

For instance, this year the problem had four issues: the legality of a military coup d’état in overthrowing a democratic government; attribution to a nation acting on behalf of an international organization; foreign-sovereign immunity; and cultural property destruction.

Jessup is run differently than most moot courts. Each team is required to produce two briefs (called Memorials in Jessup), one for each side, amounting to about 50 pages each. (Most moot courts require a brief from only one side.) Each team also argues both sides for 45 minutes each. Thus, we have 5 team members to split up the research, writing, and the arguing (whereas most moot court teams have only 2-3 people). Because of the particularity of international law, WVU decided to separate Jessup from the Moot Court Board. It has its own try-outs, and requires that everyone have taken international law. Each team member gets 2 credits for participating.

We also have two coaches who take out a considerable amount of their time to provide us additional lectures pertaining to the international law in the problem’s issues. Professors Bowman and Friedberg let us guide ourselves through most of it, but were always available to answer our questions and to “moot” us (practice our arguments). They were definitely invaluable to the experience, and I’m so happy to have professors who care so much.

It feels strange to work hard for 5 months to have it culminate in only two 23-minute arguments (we split up the 45-minute argument between two of us). But redeeming nonetheless. I learned international law, I had a fun weekend, I bonded with classmates (the inside jokes regarding the Compromis will probably never end), I got to know two of my professors really well, I met students from other law schools, and I learned what a concrete jungle Houston really is. I also noted how well prepared we, as a team, really were. Our knowledge of international law even exceeded that of some judges. We have our professors to thank for that. I’m proud of my team, and even more so, I’m proud of my law school for the incredible support it’s provided us.

2012 WVU Jessup Team

The 2012 WVU Jessup Team proudly holding its 2nd place award!
From left: Jared Jones (3L), Jaime Ritton (2L), Derek Knopp (2L), Emily Moy (3L), Mina Ghantous (3L), Professor Greg Bowman, and on the floor, Professor James Friedberg.

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