IEU Students at the Jessup Moot Court Competition

@Alejandra Acedo

“Jessup is the most prestigious international moot court competition in terms of Public International Law, where students have to deal with very complex cases. We knew that by participating we would learn a lot and have the opportunity to deal with issues we’re passionate about. We signed up, and it was definitely worth it.”

Four of our Dual Degree Law and International Relations students, Teresa Artaza, Elsa Arnaiz, Irene Luminari, and Paula Leoz, participated in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in Cuatrecasas, Barcelona from February 21st to 23rd. The oldest and largest moot court worldwide, it is dedicated to Public International Law and is open to law schools all over the world. Our team won the prize for the most active social media presence due to their Instagram account! IEU professor Antonios Kouroutakis prepared the team for the competition, which involved a presentation to a panel of judges comprised of leading legal experts from both academia and the business world.

Interview with Antonios Kouroutakis:

We interviewed the team and Professor Kouroutakis, and asked them about their experience:

What skills do students develop in this competition?

The Jessup Competition provides students with the opportunity to develop oral and written advocacy skills. However, the benefits gained from participating in such competitions has a multiplier effect. Students improve their research skills and gain intellectual expertise in a broader area of Public International Law, including Maritime Law and International Arbitration. Students also enhance soft skills such as communication and nonverbal communication skills, through public speaking and writing activities where they must communicate clearly and politely and persuade their audience. They also gain experience in working as a team and reading body language.

What key lesson did you gain from participating?

The key lesson from this process was the need to combine and balance different characters in order to form the team.

What are the most important aspects to take into account when preparing for the competition?

The challenge for the coach is to identify the chemistry between the students and help them work together and coordinate their efforts in order to have the most successful performance.  

Interview with the team:

What motivated you to participate in Jessup?

When the LL.B. department announced that IE would be taking part in the Jessup competition this year, we didn’t hesitate to sign up. Public International Law is one of the areas that best adapts to our program and to which we can apply the knowledge and skills acquired in both of our degrees. Furthermore, the Jessup is the most prestigious international moot court competition in terms of Public International Law, where students have to deal with very complex cases. We knew that by participating we would learn a lot and have the opportunity to deal with issues we’re passionate about. We signed up, and it was definitely worth it.

What did you learn from preparing for and participating in the competition?

During preparation for the competition we learned so many things that it’s hard to mention all of them.

To begin with, we learned that hard work pays off, and even if we didn’t get to the final phase of Jessup in Washington, we learned so much about Public International Law and had such an amazing experience competing with other high-level institutions. Of course, we also realized that it is much easier to work hard for subjects you are passionate about. Even though we had to constantly stay up late, we acquired knowledge on topics we are passionate about, so the effort made was not seen as negative, but rather as a positive learning experience.

Secondly, we all improved our teamwork skills. In moot court competitions it is especially important to work well with your team. Your results and the outcome completely depend on the efforts of the whole team, so it is important to keep yourself and others motivated.

We would like to make a special mention to Antonios Kouroutakis, our amazing coach who made it possible for us to gain a good knowledge of law and improve our oral advocacy skills, and who worked very hard to ensure we worked well together as a team.

Lastly, we learned the importance of seizing the opportunity. When we arrived in Barcelona we realized that the standard of the competition was extremely high, and even though we wanted to and had worked very hard, there was a chance we would not reach the final phase in Washington. However, there were prizes for different categories, such as the Social Media Award for the team with the best social media account, so we started to work hard for these. In the end we won the Social Media Award! So I think that what we learned from this was that you have to seize every opportunity, and be open-minded about the options you have: we realized that we could aim for other prizes, worked hard for these, and finally won the prize.

What was the biggest challenge you faced leading up to and during the competition?

Time constraints. We started preparing in November while other universities began in September, so we spent every minute of our free time on the case. Especially at the beginning, it was sometimes stressful to study general notions of Public International Law, solve the case, write the memorandum, prepare for oral advocacy, etc. It was important for us to stay focused, and even though it was hard at certain moments to maintain motivation, we managed to do it as a team and succeeded in the preparation.

Regarding the actual competition, oral advocacy was the greatest challenge we had to face. We had to present an extremely complex case before a panel of three judges—all experts in their fields and very knowledgeable about the case—who could stop us at any moment to ask questions about anything. However, we managed to overcome that fear, and thanks to the preparation by our coach and our intensive training, we were able to present our argument without any problems and very noticeably improved our oral advocacy skills during the process.