Jessup Team Makes Semifinals at Super-Regional Tourney

Refugee Crisis Among Timely Issues Parsed as Students Place for Best Oralists, Team Brief
Megan Strand '08, Lauren Sandground '18, Catherine Thompson '18, Ethan Foster '17, Joseph Calder '17 and Samuel Cordle '19

The UVA Law team was Megan Strand '08, Lauren Sandground '18, Catherine Thompson '18, Ethan Foster '17, Joseph Calder '17 and Samuel Cordle '19.

February 23, 2017

Dealing with a realistic, timely dilemma that included what to do in the face of a hypothetical refugee influx, a team of five University of Virginia School of Law students advanced to the semifinals of the Mid-Atlantic Super-Regional Tournament of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition over the weekend. 

The team competed Feb. 17-19 at the George Washington Law School in Washington, D.C., in a field comprised of more than 20 other law schools. Co-captains Ethan Foster ’17 and Lauren Sandground ’18 led a team that included Catherine Thompson ’18, Joseph Calder ’19 and Samuel Cordle ’19.

Sandground said the competition's problem, which had a refugee crisis folded into it, was timely.

“We are currently experiencing the largest movement of people from their homes since World War II," she said.

The team reached the semifinals after completing five rounds without being defeated, while garnering the most awards out of the competing schools during those preliminary rounds. Cordle won the second-place oralist award, Calder won the fifth-place oralist award and Foster won the eighth-place oralist award. The team also received recognition for the fourth-best-written memorial (the international law version of a brief).

“For years, UVA has consistently received high marks at Jessup tournaments,” Foster said. “Though competition was particularly fierce this year, UVA managed to turn a lot of heads at the awards ceremony. I think we left an impression.”

Jessup is the largest moot court competition in the world, with a record number of more than 550 universities from about 90 countries participating this year. In the fall, teams receive a detailed fact-pattern in the format used at the International Court of Justice. After submitting memorials, the team prepares for appellate-style arguments in the spring. This year’s problem was titled “The Sisters of the Sun” (named for the fictional minority group in the hypothetical) and involved a number of controversial issues in international law, including rights over shared water resources, World Heritage sites, interstate movement of cultural property, the right to food and water, and compensation for nations receiving refugees.

“‘Sisters of the Sun’ encompasses the most pressing issues facing the international community today,” Sandground said. “In the competition, I argued that nations that generate migrants should not compensate nations that eventually house and care for them, but as a personal matter, I think it’s a highly complex issue. The international community should continue to look for creative solutions and burden-sharing.”

In addition to addressing timely international legal issues, participation in the Jessup competition is a tradition with special ties to UVA Law. The competition was co-founded by members of the J.B. Moore Society of International Law more than 55 years ago, and one of the best-memorial awards is named in honor of former Dean Hardy C. Dillard. 

"The Jessup team would like to thank professors Julia Mahoney, David Martin and Paul Stephan for preparing the team for the competition," Foster said. "Instrumental to the team’s success were long-time coaches Megan Strand ’08 and David Graham from the Center for National Security Law, along with the UVA Law Jessup alumni who supported the team this season."



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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