UW Law 3Ls Mallory Allen and Raam Wong and 2Ls Michelle Gregoire, Spencer Hutchins and Buddy Rutzky competed at the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition earlier this month in Portland. The team was 4-0 and advanced to the quarterfinals at the Pacific Super Regionals. The team placed 5th for its memorial, while Allen was named Sixth Place Oralist and Wong won First Place Oralist.
Hutchins said being a Jessup competitor is “intimidating, stressful, exhilarating and incredibly rewarding.”
“It is impressive to see the united brain-power all working on one set of international law issues,” he said. “You can't help but be humbled by the scope of this competition worldwide. We all speak the same legal language and wrestle with the same questions. Yet each team has been working long and hard to craft their own unique, dynamic legal arguments.”
Each year UW Law sends a five-member team to the competition. The Jessup is the world's largest advocacy competition, with over 500 participating law schools from 80 countries. The competition involves a mock case in front of the United Nation’s International Court of Justice relating to issues such as human rights, war law and asylum law.
Before the competition, leading scholars of international law release the Compromis, which is a compilation of facts about the dispute that is submitted for adjudication to the ICJ. Students participating in the competition then begin researching and preparing arguments for both sides of the dispute.
Students write pleadings, called "Memorials," and practicing oral presentations in front of a panel of judges and coaches drawn from the law school faculty and the local legal community. This year Assistant Professor Mary Fan and Visiting Assistant Professor Elizabeth Porter judged the students during practice rounds.
"The team represented the University of Washington superbly with their talent, eloquence and impressive depth of knowledge,” Fan said. “The issues they argued were intricate and complex. The team was masterful in both written and oral arguments."
UW alums Amit Ranade ‘03 and Zosia Stanley ‘09 coached the team. Stanley said she got involved because while at UW Law she was on the team and benefited from exceptional coaching.
“I was a competitor on the Jessup team when I was a law student at UW and it was a remarkable experience for me,” she said. “The team this year was truly excellent. They worked extremely hard and they deserve a lot of praise.”
Wong said having coaches who are alumni is beneficial.
“The thing that makes the UW Jessup team so special is the involvement of past team members who volunteer countless hours to whipping us into shape,” Wong said.
Ranade said he was impressed with the team’s ability to “digest a complicated fact pattern and a body of law that is generally foreign to most lawyers.”
“They managed to process the facts and law and to come up with arguments that were convincing both to those who are well-versed in International Law and those who are not,” he said.
Each team prepares a written Memorials and a 45-minute oral presentation for both parties in the dispute. Teams argue alternately as Applicant and Respondent against competing teams before a panel of judges, simulating a proceeding before the ICJ.
Stanley said because she and Ranade were both Jessup prior competitors, they were able to bring attention to issues they’ve seen during the competition.
“Coaches review the fact pattern and generally discuss the issues with the team and bounce around ideas and ways to approach the problem,” she said. “[But a] number of lawyers, law students and professors from the community helped the team with oral argument practice. The team benefited from having a variety of people who came with different viewpoints and asked different questions.”
Hutchins said the team is thankful to their coaches and university professors who helped them prepare for the competition, including two other UW Jessup alumni, Andrea Menaker '95 and Scott Dinwiddie '95, who have pledged generous financial contributions toward a successful future for the team.
“That kind of support shows how valuable this competition is to the people who have gone before us,” he said. “We want nothing more than to build on their legacy and make them proud.”