The Jessup Moot Court Competition: Legal skills training and more

“Future world leaders will view each other differently, for they will have met here first as friends.”

This is the motto of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, the world’s oldest and largest moot court competition. Started in 1959, now nearly 3,000 law students from more than 90 countries participate in the Jessup Competition each year. Teams from all around the world have participated, including teams from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Macao, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Sierra Leone and Tanzania.

The first team from Hong Kong joined the competition in 1983. Students from the three law schools in Hong Kong participated, with judges and lawyers in and out of Hong Kong judging the Hong Kong Rounds. The Hong Kong teams advancing to the International Rounds have frequently been among the top 32 teams and competed in the later rounds of the competition. This year, the team from the University of Hong Kong came in 11th in the competition.

The Jessup Competition requires teams to present oral arguments and written briefs on a hypothetical case of international law before a simulated International Court of Justice. For many students, this can be a life-changing experience: Some have never left their home town or met anyone from another country.

In addition to the skills gained by the participants, the Jessup Competition enhances the participants’ understanding of the rule of law and peaceful settlement of disputes. Many Jessup alumni now hold important positions in governments, NGOs, universities, law firms and corporations. The cross-border friendships and connections they make at Jessup can, potentially, mean the difference between conflict and conciliation.

White & Case has supported the Jessup for many years, sponsoring the Hong Kong Rounds, as many as 14 other national and regional rounds, and the International Rounds. We played a role in the making of a documentary on Jessup, “ALL RISE,” which has been screened at the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, international industry conferences, and was selected by three film festivals.

Next year marks the 60th anniversary of Jessup. We will be celebrating its rich history, longstanding commitment, positive impact on the legal profession and the important place Jessup has in the international legal community.

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