Here are some common questions and relative answers to those questions:
Q: I don’t know anything about International Law — can I still try out?
A: Not only can you try out, you still have an excellent chance of making the team! We have had members as well as Board members that have had little to no experience in international legal matters and yet have managed to qualify to make the team and have made incredible contributions.
Q: What do I need to know about try-outs?
A: The International Moot Court Team try-outs are typically held either late in the summer break or early in the Fall Semester (important dates and deadlines will be released soon). Individuals that would like to try out for the team will need to submit intent to compete forms to the IMC Team email. A batch of pertinent material including the problem and the necessary research documents will be released on a specified date, and memorials will need to be submitted by an additional deadline. After the Board has had an opportunity to read through the memorial submissions, the oral argument try-outs will commence. Potential team members will be expected to give a 10 minute presentation, similar to competition standards, and the Board and faculty coach will serve as judges. There are typically two rounds of oral competitions, and team members are chosen and notified by the end of September. Once students have committed to the try-out process, more information will be available to them.
Q: What can I expect as a member of this team?
A: The International Moot Court team competes in the Philip C. Jessup International Moot Competition in the spring semester. Given that our try-outs are early in the Fall Semester, we have plenty of time to prepare to do our best. What this means, is that there is plenty of time for preparation.
There are typically five members on the team. This allows for two members that represent the applicant, two members that represent the respondent, and one member that serves as an alternate and “of-counsel”. The choice of which team members serve in each capacity is completely left up to the team, but no matter the role, each member has an important job; obviously each competing member has a specific job to do, but of-counsel is also a critical position in terms of preparing strategy during the actual competition.
Preparation comes in different forms, depending on the composition of the team. It is also largely up to the team to ensure that they are properly prepared. In previous years, we have typically held two meetings a week for the Fall Semester; one meeting was strictly for team members to convene, discuss, and collaborate in preparing their arguments and memorials, and the other meeting focused on discussion with Professor Danchin in regards to difficult questions, clarification, or just anything that he could help with in general. The memorials are typically due sometime around Winter Break. Then, in the Spring Semester, we switch our attention to oral arguments. Typically, we still meet twice a week for the sole purpose of actually “mooting.” These meetings are 100% focused on understanding, constructing, and practicing the oral arguments. We essentially perform trial runs repeatedly until the arguments are solid, well versed, and basically memorized. As we get closer to competition, we bring in guest judges who consist of law professors well versed in international law, former team members who know what to expect from Jessup judges, and members of the legal community that have either participated in Jessup in some way or have a decent knowledge of international matters.
Just prior to competition, our final few trial runs are exact simulations; team members sit together as they would in competition, competitive rules are enforced, the expected attire is worn, etc. Shortly thereafter, we go to Washington, D.C. for the competition. The team has a budget that typically pays for hotel accommodations and in the past, the school has reimbursed us for meals on a per diem basis, as well as travel costs. The competition itself is held at George Washington University’s Law School, and runs from Friday to Sunday (teams arrive Thursday evening, and there are final rounds held on Sunday morning).
Q: What are the time commitments like?
A: As this is a competition, how well the team does is directly related to the time that is taken in preparation. In the Fall Semester, the team will meet formally at least twice a week, probably for a 1 hour a meeting. The first meeting will be just the members of the team; the idea is for the team to meet and discuss their progress in writing the memorial. The second meeting is usually with the faculty coach, Professor Danchin. Again, this meeting is typically two hours, and this is a great time to get clarification and to discuss difficult or unclear issues. The memorial submission deadline is usually sometime during winter break, but teams are allowed to structure their submission so that they can still enjoy the break if they have travel plans; in other words, you don’t have to wait until the deadline to submit the memorial if you plan accordingly throughout the semester.
When school resumes for the Spring Semester, the structure for team meetings may change. Typically, the team will meet in 3 to 4 hour blocks, at least twice a week, in order to practice oral arguments. While each argument is only 20 minutes long, the team receives feedback from members, coaches, Board members, and guest judges, and the time will simply fly. Again, there is some flexibility in creating these schedules, and the practice times are largely left up to the team members with recommendations from Board members and the faculty coach.
Q: What are some of the perks to being on the International Moot Court Team?
A: The most obvious answer to this question is that it looks great on a resume. Most large firms and companies tend to hire graduating law students that have experience in journal, trial team, and/or moot court. In addition, if you are interested in international law, there is no better way to get real experience preparing yourself to litigate in an international forum. The competition is set up as if students are really arguing in front of the International Court of Justice, with all rules and formalities being enforced. For those not interested in international law, this is still a great way to get moot court experience, which would be very similar to appellate advocacy in America. While there are some differences, the argument structures are the same as an American appellate court.
While there is a sizeable time commitment throughout the school year, team members are also awarded credits for participation—2 credits per semester to be exact. What’s great about this, is that even though you actually get 4 credits for the school year, you really only focus on the IMC team from October to March, not counting spring break and most of winter break!
This is an excellent way to sharpen and increase your knowledge about international law. While there are many students who may be well versed in international legal matters and procedures, participation on the International Moot Court Team will enhance a critical thinking approach to solving what can potentially be complex issues. Not only will students know international law, they will also learn how to apply it to real world international problems.
Also, you will have the opportunity to meet a lot of other law students. The spring competition is a regional competition, so you will have an opportunity to meet and network with law students throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as a few other schools from outside the region. If the team manages to win the Mid-Atlantic region and make it to the international rounds, you will have an opportunity to meet law students from all over the world; the Philip C. Jessup International Moot Competition is the largest moot court competition on the planet!
There are several awards that can be won at competition, for both individual and team performances, and they are fair game to any given competitor. Each team also has a fair shake at winning awards and the regional competition as a whole; big name schools don’t necessarily clean up here. In addition, there is a very nice reception at the White & Case law firm in which awards are given out, food is provided, and competitors are able to mingle and network. Also keep in mind that competition is basically during the day, so you also get to spend three nights in downtown Washington, D.C.; the hotel accommodations are paid for through the IMC Team and all meals and public transportation costs are reimbursed!
Finally, 2nd year law students that will be returning the following year will serve as the new IMC Board and will have the responsibility of carrying on the legacy of this great team!