International Law Society - Law School - Lewis & Clark

Jessup Moot Court Competition

What is Jessup?

Founded at Harvard Law School in 1959, the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is the world’s largest moot court competition, with participants from over 500 law schools in more than 90 countries. The competition is a simulation of a fictional dispute between countries before the International Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the United Nations. One team of 4-5 students is allowed to participate from every eligible school. Teams prepare oral and written pleadings arguing both the Applicant and Respondent positions of the case.

Thousands of law students from around the world work all year long on the Jessup Problem, which each year addresses four distinct cutting edge issues in international law. Topics have included human rights, international criminal law, environmental law, commercial and boundary disputes and refugee issues. Most students must first compete in regional and then national competitions (usually held in January-March) to earn the right to advance to the White & Case International Rounds held every spring in Washington, D.C. Lewis & Clark usually competes either in the Mid-Atlantic (DC) or South (New Orleans) Regional because we host the Pacific Regional.

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The Lewis & Clark Jessup Teams

Lewis & Clark has a strong record in Jessup, reaching the International Rounds in 2016, the International Rounds Octa-Finals in 2010, and the Quarter Finals in 2006 and 2007.  Lewis & Clark has also produced many recognized oralists and highly ranked memorial submissions.

Lewis & Clark Jessup alumni have gone on to distinguished legal careers in the U.S. and abroad and have also stayed involved in Jessup as evidenced by scores of them returning each spring to judge at our own Pacific Regional and elsewhere. Will Patterson, Class of 2007 served as the Executive Director of the International Law Students Association (ILSA) which administers the Jessup. Joe Terrenzio, Class of 2011, was ILSA’s Jessup Competition Director. Dagmar Butte, Class of 1991 and the team’s current coach, has co-authored three Jessup problems (2003, 2005 and 2015), currently serves on ILSA’s Board of Directors and is the Board’s former Chairperson.

The Jessup Moot Court Course

At Lewis & Clark, the Jessup International Law moot court course is an immersive experience that begins with in the fall semester and includes substantive international law lectures and extensive practice in written and oral advocacy in a group setting. Prior Jessup team members and regional judges come back to judge class practices and provide real time individualized feedback in a group setting. The course teaches useful legal and advocacy skills even if a student does not wish to be on the Regional Team. Those who do wish to join the team participate in an in-school competition at the beginning of November. In the spring, the Jessup Memorials are due right at the beginning of the semester and therefore students selected for the Regional Team spend a good portion of their winter break working on memorials as a team. Once Memorials are submitted, the team has practices with judges drawn from Jessup alumni, the local legal community and the law school faculty. These intensive sessions area wonderful way to hone not just advocacy but also critical thinking skills.

While participation in Jessup at Lewis & Clark does not require prior coursework in public international law, it is helpful for students seeking to become a part of the Regional Team to have at least some background in international law or international relations or be taking relevant courses simultaneously to the Jessup course.

For students with a genuine interest in international law, other cultures and a love of advocacy – both written and oral – participating in the Jessup Regional Team is an experience like no other. The sheer breadth of topics and legal issues covered in a single year will dwarf anything you will ever have to do in your professional career. If you can do this, you can do anything! The people you will meet  - fellow team members, judges, members of other teams (from all over the world if you make it to the International Rounds) – form a unique community that supports and inspires its members to always give their best, has their back and makes sure its members always remember to have fun and share the good times. If you’re curious, just visit the “Jessup White & Case LLP” Facebook page and  scroll through the photos posted there – whether it’s pictures of team prepping for rounds, giving their presentations or celebrating dressed in their national costumes at the Go National Ball – one thing is clear, the Jessup is a blast!!!