The Law School is a relative newcomer to the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, the world’s largest moot court competition. Chicago Law students have competed in the event only twice in the last 14 years, so it was a big accomplishment when this year’s team made it to the semifinals of the Midwest qualifying round, held February 20 to 23 at John Marshall Law School in downtown Chicago.
Chicago Law narrowly missed the top two spots, which qualified for the International Rounds next month in Washington, D.C. The students did win an award for fourth best memorials, or briefs, in the region. They competed against 20 other student teams.
The strong showing by this year’s team was described by a coach from another law school as if “we had awakened a sleeping giant,” Ankur Shingal, ’14, said. The Law School did send teams in the more-distant past, with periodic appearances between 1963 and 1976 and then annual participation from 1989 to 2000. Then, there was a long gap before Chicago Law students reappeared in the competition last year.
This year, Shingal and Alex Kiles, ’14, were co-captains, and argued before the judges with Paige Braddy, ’15. Antoinette-Rita Opeyemioluwa Okoiye, LLM ‘14, Laura Conley, ’15, and Angelique Salib, ’15, helped research and write the team’s briefs, one for the respondent side and one for the applicant side. Mónica Norzagaray Pedraza, LLM ’14, and Analuz Sanchez Mejorada, LLM ’14, served as coaches.
The Jessup competition always centers on a hypothetical legal dispute between nations; this year’s “Jessup Problem” focused on maritime development, and teams argued before a panel of judges posing as the International Court of Justice. Participants from more than 550 law schools in more than 80 countries participate in the competition, which is administered by the International Law Students Association.
“It was a great experience,” Shingal said. “It gave me the chance to research, write, and argue about interesting and cutting-edge international issues. It also was a great opportunity to learn how to be part of a team, since most of us did not know each other before the competition. Making the semifinals was a huge step. I hope it’s just the start for the Law School in this competition.”
The students are working now to recruit new law students to the team for next year.