Moot court team participates in competition


The Harvard Law School moot court team competed two weeks ago in the international round of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, held in Washington, D.C. After winning their fifth regional title less than a month ago, the five-member team traveled to our nation’s capital to contend with eleven other U.S. schools and over seventy international teams for the titles of the world’s best mock international lawyers.

In the preliminary round, HLS faced off against Indiana University-Bloomington, University of California-Hastings, Italy and Sri Lanka. Although several members acknowledged that these were formidable opponents, HLS bested each one and scored an impressive 34 out of a possible 36 points, making them the number one team in the competition at that time.

The HLS team advanced to the round of 16 where they beat Michigan but, after what one person described as a close call, they lost to Columbia on Thursday. Two days later, at the U.S. District Courthouse, Western Australia defeated Russia in the final round to be named the international winner of the Jessup competition.

Team members were upbeat about their performance. LL.M. Ewan Smith said, “Harvard did well. We worked pretty hard and I think it paid off as well as could be.”

“We did what we set out to do – we proved ourselves to be among the best,” said 1L Hugo Torres, who was the eighth best oralist in the international competition, one of three oralist awards HLS team members took home. “I had a great time. D.C. was a great dynamic city and it was very exciting to have the competition held there.”

While many teams were surprised that HLS performed so well without a faculty advisor, 3L and sixth best oralist Jonathan Patchen said the lack of an advisor was offset by their team captain, 3L Natalie Reid. “Much of our success can be credited to Natalie Reid who, having been there before, guided us at every step,” said Patchen. “Unfortunately, Natalie is graduating and much of her institutional knowledge leaves as well.”

Two-L Nathaniel Stankard also sang the praises of Reid: “As in the regionals, Natalie was the one who made things happen. We are in her debt.” Stankard was awarded second best oralist in the competition, finishing only behind a team member from Western Australia. Reid could not be reached for comment.

While proud of their accomplishments, the team also discussed the impressive performance of other schools at the competition. “We were lucky enough to beat Michigan and UC Hastings, who were also very bright and who also knew what they were talking about,” said Smith. “If there is something to take from the tournament, it isn’t a gold rosette, but a keen awareness that Harvard is only one good school amongst an awful lot of good law schools around the world,” he concluded.

Stankard and Torres are the only team members who will return next year. When asked whether or not he would compete again, Torres said, “Definitely. I really look forward to doing it next year and going even further.”

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