The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition

The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is the world’s largest moot court competition and the oldest dedicated to public international law. New York Law School has long participated in the Jessup competition.

How are members of the NYLS team chosen?

  • The faculty of the Center for International Law will choose team members for the 2019-20 competition.
  • Please send a cover letter and resume by 5:00 pm on Tuesday, September 10, 2019, to Michael.Rhee@nyls.edu

What are the important dates of the competition?

  • September 13, 2019: Anticipated release of the Jessup Problem
  • October 8, 2019: Anticipated release of the first batch of basic research materials
  • November 20, 2019: Anticipated release of the second batch of basic research materials
  • January 13, 2020: Deadline for submission of Memorials (i.e., brief)
  • Early- or mid-February 2020: Qualifying oral rounds in regional competitions

I don’t know a lot about international law. Can I still apply to join the NYLS team?

  • Yes, you can still apply!
  • While having a background in international law and international relations is very helpful, the following attributes are just as important:
    • a “can-do” attitude;
    • a commitment to follow through; and
    • a desire to learn something new – very, very quickly.

What kinds of topics appear in the Jessup Problem?

  • As you can imagine, international law is a huge field with many specialties.
  • Several topics in every competition are usually “ripped from the headlines,” meaning that the organizers will likely use actual disputes occurring in the world today.
  • They will then tailor these topics into the Problem itself.
  • Last year, one involved the international rules surrounding submarine surveillance. Another concerned nuclear non-proliferation. Two years ago, competitors addressed transboundary aquifers.

These topics are really specialized. How are we expected to know about them already?

  • You aren’t expected to know about them!
  • Because Jessup topics can be so specialized, every team must learn them from scratch.
  • To ensure all teams begin on the same footing, the Jessup organizers will distribute a batch of basic research materials (one in October and another in November) concerning the Problem.
  • Teams must then learn these topics in a very, very short period of time, and then apply the facts from the Problem itself to the international rules they gleaned from the basic research materials.

How much time will we have to learn about these issues and then write the Memorial?

  • About 4 months (from mid-September to mid-January).

That doesn’t seem like a lot of time. And it sounds like a lot of work.

  • That is correct.

How much time will we have to practice for the oral rounds?

  • About 3 weeks.

Exactly how much work is involved in the competition?

  • The competition is a big undertaking, and is the equivalent of taking a 4-credit class.
  • The team will meet regularly (weekly or biweekly) throughout the fall 2019 semester to discuss research and also to begin drafting the Memorials (i.e., briefs).
  • The bulk of the Memorial writing will most likely take place during winter break.
  • Practice sessions for the oral pleadings will take place from mid-January 2020 through early-February 2020.

Can you give a rough timeline of our responsibilities?

  • Early-August – mid-September:
    • Read the Jessup rules.
    • Read the Jessup advice.
  • Mid-September – early October:
    • Read the Problem.
    • Take your own notes and carry out your own research.
    • Learn the basics of international law with help from the NYLS faculty.
  • Early-October – late-November:
    • Read the first batch of basic research materials.
    • Decide which team members will be responsible for which issues in the Problem.
    • Decide which team members will write the various parts of the Memorial.
    • Learn (and map out) the law behind your specific issue.
    • Write the facts for your topic.
    • Apply the facts to the law – for both the claimant and respondent.
  • Late-November – mid-January:
    • Read the second batch of basic research materials.
    • Write the various parts of the Memorial.
  • Mid-January – early-February:
    • Practice for oral pleadings

You mentioned practice sessions for the oral pleadings. Do you have a sample schedule?

The practice sessions below took place in New York Law School in the 9th floor conference room of the E building during the competition in 2018. Dates will, of course, be different in the future.

Dates (This is from last year.) Times
Tuesday, January 30, 2018 9:30 am – 11:30 am
Wednesday, January 31, 2018 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Thursday, February 1, 2018 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Friday, February 2, 2018 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Saturday, February 3, 2018 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Tues, Feb. 6, 2018 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Wed, Feb. 7, 2018 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Thurs, Feb. 8, 2018 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Fri, Feb. 9, 2018 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Sat, Feb. 10, 2018 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Sun, Feb. 11, 2018 12:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Mon, Feb. 12, 2018 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Tues, Feb. 13, 2018 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Wed, Feb. 14, 2018 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Is it really important to attend these practice sessions?

  • Yes, absolutely.
  • The main component of the competition is facing off against another team during oral pleadings where you explain and defend your arguments before a panel of judges.
  • Not attending these practice sessions is the equivalent of saying, “I want to swim better, but I refuse to get wet.”

If I am selected to join the NYLS team, I won’t be able to contribute a lot of time because I have lots of other responsibilities. Is this okay?

  • Think about the following scenarios:
    • I am involved in clinics, externships, or other moot court competitions.
    • I cannot help the team during the winter break.
    • I cannot attend practice sessions for the oral pleadings.
    • I cannot attend the actual oral pleadings themselves.
  • If one or more of these scenarios apply to you, please think hard about applying to the Jessup team.
  • At the risk of sounding like a smart-aleck, if you can’t (or won’t) do the work, then why join the team in the first place?

Do I have to be a member of the Moot Court Association to join the NYLS Jessup team?

  • No, the Jessup competition is completely separate from the Moot Court Association.

Can I get academic credit for participating in the Jessup competition?

  • You can receive a total of 4 academic credits.
  • If you don’t want academic credit, that is okay, too.
  • To get these 4 credits, please contact Michael.Rhee@nyls.edu.
  • The Jessup faculty advisor will approve the credits when you successfully complete all of your duties for the Jessup team.

Can I use the Memorial to satisfy the Law School’s writing requirement?

  • Along with receiving academic credit through Independent Study, you may also use the Memorial to satisfy the Law School’s writing requirement.
  • Please go to the Portal and print out the Writing Requirement packet. Fill out page 2 of the packet and give it to Michael.Rhee@nyls.edu.

What were the results of previous year competitions?

  • Scroll to the bottom of the screen for more information.

When and how will the Center for International Law select the NYLS Jessup team members?

  • The faculty of the Center for International Law will choose team members for the 2019-20 competition.
  • Please send a cover letter and resume by 5:00 pm on Tuesday, September 10, 2019, to Michael.Rhee@nyls.edu

During the 2018-19 competition, the following students represented New York Law School:

Kayla Canasi-Di Scala 3L
Sezi Erdin 2L
Maverick James 3L
Megan Hawkins 2L

The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition requires the submission of a complex original substantive international law pleading and then a subsequent team moot competition before the International Court of Justice. This is the largest competitive moot in the world. Over 680 teams competed this year in the Moot, representing over 100 countries.

NYLS’s Jessup International Moot Court team competed against 17 other student teams from February 22-23, 2019, in the Northeast US Jessup Regional held at the offices of Shearman & Sterling. This year’s problem concerned unsettled issues of transboundary environmental harm to migratory species in relation to the protection of human health and whether there is an international law duty to mitigate harm in these circumstances to the cultural and religious rights of indigenous peoples.

The NYLS student team of Kayla Canasi-Di Scala 3L, Sezi Erdin 2L, Megan Hawkins 2L, and Maverick James 3L competed in four matches – with a close oral advocacy score in all matches. The Northeast regional bracket is considered the most competitive regional competition in the entire competition, with only one school emerging to the final competition in Washington, DC.

Left to right: Maverick James 3L, Kayla Canasi-Di Scala 3L, Megan Hawkins 2L, and Sezi Erdin 2L

“The Team’s performance was truly outstanding and resulted from months of dedicated hard work on their part,” said the team’s coach, NYLS Adjunct Professor Barry Appleton. “At this unsettled time in international affairs, the NYLS Jessup Team reflected the finest traditions of the New York Law School, our country, and our profession. The team represented NYLS extremely well. I thank all the students for their hundreds of hours of hard work and their commitment to the progressive development of international law. I am delighted by the demonstrable enhancement is the team’s substantive and practical legal skills, and the professionalism demonstrated by this year’s team.”

In addition to the team, Prof. Appleton thanks Michael Rhee and the NYLS Center for International Law for its essential ongoing support and to Professor Ruti Teitel and the NYLS Institute for Global Law, Justice and Policy. He added special thanks for ongoing assistance from Nabeela Latif, Amelia Persaud, James McGowan, Carolyn Hasselmann from the Law Library and Professor F. Peter Phillips.


During the 2017-18 competition, the following students represented New York Law School:

  • Shan Chen 2L
  • Maverick James 2L
  • Nabeela Latif 2L
  • Victoria Lee 3L
  • Eleanor Spencer 3L

1 – Tiffany Schneider (Coach), 2 – Nicholas Luciano (Coach), 3 – Victoria Lee, 4 – Shan Chen, 5 – Nabeela Latif, 6 – Eleanor Spencer, 7 – Maverick James, 8 – Yonatan Hassin (Coach)

During the Northeast Regionals of the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition at the offices of Shearman & Sterling, our intrepid team members faced off against Charleston, Maine, Northeastern, and Pace Law Schools. During four rounds, they took questions from a panel of judges and debated a wide range of topics, including submarine surveillance, arbitration, the law of the sea, the use of force, questions of jurisdiction, the laws of war, and nuclear weapons proliferation. Although our team members did not advance to the final, their scores in each round were close to those of the opposing teams. In their written comments, the judges noted that the NYLS team made “good use of the facts,” and that its arguments were “well-structured and clearly laid out.”

No summary would be complete without a very, very special thank-you to our team coaches – Yonatan Hassin 3L, Nicholas Luciano 3L, and Tiffany Schneider 3L, all of whom competed last year. We can personally attest that they provided invaluable advice, continuous guidance, boundless enthusiasm, and countless hours of mooting to prepare our team for the regionals – and all with a great sense of humor. No other individuals in the Law School can truly stand in their stead. Their dedication and concern went beyond the call of duty. Just watching them help the team would make anyone proud to say that we are (and work at) New York’s Law School.

Michael Rhee, the Associate Director of the Center for International Law, provided the usual administrative assistance as well as his own succinct primers on the law of the sea, nuclear weapons proliferation, and the laws of war. He also helped to moot the team through hours of practice rounds.

Many thanks also go out to Professor Ruti Teitel (the Jessup Faculty Advisor) as well as to Carolyn Hasselmann of the Law Library for her expert research assistance. Finally, we would like to announce this year’s recipient of the “NYLS Jessup Spirit Award” – Professor Lloyd Bonfield. As a director emeritus of the Center for International Law, he attended a practice session (while battling a cold, no less), and also a round at Shearman & Sterling – very nice gestures which did not go unnoticed by the team.