Jessup moot court team advances to international rounds

On February 25, a team from NYU Law took fourth place in the 2024 Eastern regional round of the Philip C. Jessup Moot Court Competition, earning them a spot to compete in the week-long international round in Washington, DC, beginning March 30.

The Jessup competition centers around a dispute between fictional countries—though referencing real multinational treaties—before the United Nations’ International Court of Justice. This year, over 700 law schools participated in qualifying rounds across the world, weighing in on a conflict that touched on concepts of national sovereignty and statelessness. Teams were given the dispute in September and submitted a written memorial at the start of their regional competition before participating in rounds of oral arguments. This year, the Eastern regional rounds were held in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Jessup team 2024
Gordon Ahl, Isabel Paolini, Beth Kelley, Bhavini Kakani, and Aidan McGirr

The Law School’s team, including Gordon Ahl ’25, Bhavini Kakani ’24, Beth Kelley ’24, Aidan McGirr ’25, and Isabel Paolini ’25, placed first for their written memorial and fourth overall. Kelley also earned eighth place—out of over 200 students—for her oral pleading.

“It’s amazing to see how much we’ve grown, and how much greater our understanding of international law is this year,” says Kelley, who notes that four of the five team members competed on the team last year. “In [New Orleans] it was interesting to see how other teams approached a problem we’d been thinking about for so long.”

The team is coached by Joyce De Coninck, adjunct professor and Institute for International Law and Justice (IILJ) scholar in residence, as well as two former NYU Law Jessup team members: Dan Rosenberg ’23, an associate at King & Spalding, and Yirong Sun LLM ’22, now a research fellow at IILJ.

Bhavini Kakani—who, like Kelley, will be working at a firm specializing in international arbitration after graduation—says that competing in Jessup has been a great way to get to know students at NYU Law and elsewhere who will likely be colleagues in the years to come. During her 2L Early Interview Week, Kakani says she found that many interviewers who work in international law had competed in Jessup in law school. “It’s a tight-knit community,” she says, adding, “I hope to keep the friends I’ve made in Jessup for the rest of my life and career.”

To prepare for their upcoming international round, held March 30 to April 6, the Jessup team has been practicing their arguments weekly before faculty, students, and some members of the NYU Law Moot Court Board. “It’s been interesting to see how our arguments have been refined in the competition and to practice in front of faculty who are truly experts in the field,” says Kakani. “I hope future students interested in international law will consider Jessup because, for me, it’s been one of the best experiences of law school—a part of my week I always look forward to.”

Posted March 22, 2024.