Jessup International Moot Court Team Excels at Regionals


The HLS Jessup moot court team with the final round judges.

Accolades for Harvard Law’s moot court competitors continue to roll in: Last weekend, HLS finished 2nd in the Regional round of the Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court competition.

The HLS team consisted of Brandon Miller, 3L and Jason Poole, 2L (Applicants); Eli Schlam, 1L and Seth Kipp, 2L (Respondents), and Sarah Park, 1L, Team Researcher. This was Miller’s third year competing in Jessup. “It’s been a great way to learn about international law, to improve oral advocacy skills, and to work with a number of very bright, hardworking HLS students,” he said.

The regional competition, held at Suffolk Law School, started with a day of preliminary rounds. After the first day, the HLS team racked up 3 victories out of 4 rounds, qualifying them as one of the top 4 teams that would advance to the Regional Semi-Finals. HLS finished in 2nd place after Saturday’s rounds and advanced to the Semi-Finals.

On the second day, the HLS Respondents defeated the Fletcher School Applicants in the Semi-Finals morning round, but then the same HLS Respondents lost a heartbreaking round to the Boston College Applicants, who had been their lone defeat in preliminary rounds, in the Final round. HLS thus finished as Regional Runner-Up overall, and Boston College advanced to the Jessup International Round in Washington, DC the week of March 26-30.

The HLS team won a number of additional awards, including 4th Place for their Memorials, or briefs. Brandon Miller was named 3rd Place Individual Oralist at the Regionals, and Seth Kipp was named 2nd Place Individual Oralist. Harvard was the only team at the competition without a coach or an advisor.

The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is the world’s most prestigious international law competition, with advocates from all over the world (over 80 countries) representing states before the International Court of Justice. Each team consists of two pairs of oralists, one pair arguing each side of the Problem. The 2007 Jessup Problem raised issues surrounding an international organization’s responsibilities to non-member states. It also raises questions concerning the appropriate mechanism for resolution of disputes between international organizations and non-Member States, the law of diplomatic immunities for international organizations, and the international law governing indirect expropriation of foreign investment.

Teams prepare two Memorials (briefs) during the fall and submit them in January, one Memorial for each side of the Problem, and then compete in oral arguments in February and March. “Team members put in a minimum of 10 hours per week of work into the written memorials,” said Miller. “Since mid-January, we have been holding oral practices 2-3 times per week for several hours in the evenings. Everyone worked very, very hard and the results bore that out.”

Miller had special words of praise for 1Ls Sarah Park and Eli Schlam. “I was particularly impressed with the contributions of the team’s two 1Ls,” he said. “They did a great job of getting up to speed on international law in a short period of time. Eli was arguing with great nuance and force in the semi-finals and finals against 3Ls, even though he has just started taking his first international law course.”

While Miller’s participation in the Jessup Competition has come to a close, he has high hopes for future HLS competitors. “Participating in the Jessup Competition for the past two years and leading the team last year and with Seth this year has been one of the best experiences of my law school career,” he said. “I am confident that Seth will lead the team to victory next year and reclaim the title that we last held when I was a 1L member of the team in 2005.”

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