Student Offers Account of Virginia's Seventh Appearance in Jessup Moot Court International Rounds

April 4, 2011

Virginia Law students made their seventh appearance at the final stage of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, a contest involving more than 500 law schools from over 80 countries, including 145 U.S. law schools.

From left: Haryo Nugroho, Megan Strand, Amy Stern and Jonathan Ware

Virginia was runner-up at the U.S. South Super Regional competition in February and advanced to the international rounds in Washington, D.C., held March 20-26. Virginia's participants included team captain Haryo Nugroho (LL.M. '10/ S.J.D. candidate); oralists Joel Sanderson '12, John Akin '13 and Virginia Davis '13; and memorialist Amy Stern '12. Nugroho offered his account of the competition.

About 100 teams from around the world gathered in Washington, D.C., to compete in the Jessup international rounds. Most of these teams survived its respective national or regional round, earning the right to represent its country or region in D.C. This year the UVA team was among them, after competing with 24 other schools in the U.S. South Super Regional Round in Houston on Feb. 10 to 13. The team received several awards at the South Super Regional: fourth-best memorial, 17th-best oralist (John Akin), 20th-best oralist (Virginia Davis), and best oralist in the final round (Akin).

UVA last appeared at the international rounds in 2008, when our coaches Megan Strand '08 and Jonathan Ware '08 were members of the team. Although we did not move on to the advanced rounds, two of our oralists were in the top 100 out of more than 400 competitors: Virginia Davis ranked 43rd and John Akin ranked 61st. This year's champion was the University of Sydney, with Columbia University as the runner-up.

UVA has special ties to the Jessup competition. Fifty-two years ago, the competition was co-founded by members of the J.B. Moore Society of International Law, and one of the best brief awards is named in honor of Law School Dean Hardy C. Dillard. UVA's best performance was in the 2001 international round, when the team reached the semifinal round — the best performance by a U.S. team in that year's competition.

The Jessup competition requires not just oral advocacy, but also a combination of research and writing skill as well as good teamwork. The Jessup problem, called the Compromis, is designed to include many different cutting-edge substantive topics in international law. Team members must also be familiar with other related aspects of international law, such as the questions of standing, admissibility and the jurisdiction and procedure of the International Court of Justice.

From left: Joel Sanderson, John Akin and Virginia Davis

This year's Compromis included a complex fact pattern involving the use of predator drones, terrorism, state restriction of religious expression and international anticorruption law. In addition to these core issues, the team had to address peripheral issues including questions on the existence of armed conflict, the rights of states to bring claims on behalf of dual-nationality citizens, evidentiary thresholds, and national security as a justification to suspend treaty obligations. The most interesting part of the international rounds was listening to different legal analyses from various countries. This experience has exposed us to many perspectives on the same issues.

Jessup is also about building friendships and learning about the cultures of other countries. We had the opportunity to meet fellow competitors from all over the world, including Afghanistan, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Turkey and Ukraine. This year we were also honoured to be invited by the Indonesian Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Dino Patti Djalal, to a reception at the Indonesian Embassy. We also had the opportunity to wear east-west fusion costumes made from the traditional Indonesian batik in UVA colors, which were kindly provided by Endang Priyambada from Jakarta.

We would like to thank all the UVA Law community, especially the faculty members and librarians, for their past and continued support, which made our success possible. We look forward to the next Jessup season, when we will once again do our best to represent UVA well on both the national and international levels.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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