Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court
The prestigious Jessup Competition is named for Philip C Jessup, a former member of the International Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the United Nations. It is the world's largest law school moot court competition, with participants from over 550 law schools in more than 80 countries. The Jessup Competition involves a dispute between two fictional countries that typically raises “cutting edge” international law issues yet to be decided by the actual Court, often involving human rights and environmental law. The Jessup Competition is considered to have the most stringent writing requirement of any law school moot court competition because each team must comprehensively brief both sides of the case.
The Jessup Competition is administered through the International Law Students Association, a U.S.-based not-for-profit organization comprised of law school chapters from all over the world. The competition commences at the national level, where teams within a single country vie for the right to move on to the international competition. The United States is currently divided into six regions, with 20 or more teams competing in each regional. Each participating team competes in four preliminary oral rounds, arguing twice as Applicant and twice as Respondent. The top eight teams then proceed to a series of single-elimination final rounds. The top two teams from each U.S. regional proceed to the international competition, which is held each year in March or April in Washington D.C. The University of Montana teams have been extremely competitive at the regional level, and have received numerous awards for their written memorials as well as their performance as oralists. The UM team has advanced on several occasions to the international competition in Washington, D.C.
The UM Jessup team typically has five members, four of whom participate in oral arguments and one of whom serves as team administrator and back-up oralist. All five members research and write the memorials. Try-outs for the Jessup team are held in April for the following year’s competition, and are open to all first and second year law students. There are no prerequisites, but enrollment in public international law is encouraged. Readings in basic international law are assigned during the summer, and the team meets weekly in the fall semester for substantive lectures and to begin working on the memorials. Team members return early in January to complete the memorials, and oral practices begin in January to prepare for the regional competition, which is usually held in February.
Current coaches of the Jessup Team include Sally Cummins, a career U.S. State Department Legal Advisor's Office attorney who has also taught several classes on public international law; Professor Kristen Juras, a former Jessup participant whose memorial received the best memorial award in the 1981international competition, and Tal Goldin, a former UM Jessup team member who currently practices in Missoula.