Moot Court Teams

Learn more about Columbia's international law moot court teams:

About Jessup

The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is the world’s largest moot court, with participants from more than 600 law schools across 100+ nations. The competition simulates a dispute between two countries before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the judicial arm of the United Nations. Recent topics have included the state responsibility for environmental degradation and human rights violations, legality of nuclear weapons, undersea espionage, the threat or use of force, validity of international arbitral awards, mass surveillance, the right of self-determination, and international protections for traditional knowledge and cultural property.

Jessup & Columbia

The Columbia Law School Jessup team has been one of the most successful in the history of the Jessup competition, frequently winning national championships and advancing to become finalists or competition winners at the international level. Team members have also received numerous awards for their written submissions and individual accolades for being the best oralists at the preliminary and final rounds. This past year, the team won the Northeast Regional championship for the 10th time in 11 years, retained their title of U.S. Champions, and qualified for the international rounds in Washington D.C. (which were subsequently cancelled in lieu of COVID-19). In the 2018-19 season, the Columbia Jessup team finished runners-up in the international rounds in Washington D.C. Additionally, in 2016, the team became the first team since 1998 to win the top international honors for both of its written submissions. Team members have also received recognition from Columbia Law School for their work with the Jessup team. Since 2010, team members have been named Archie O. Dawson Prize (which recognizes proficiency in advocacy) winners five times, and David M. Berger Prize (which recognizes educational excellence in the field of international law) winners nine times. Jessup alums have gone on to clerk at the I.C.J., the Supreme Court of the U.S., and other major international human rights courts, in addition to working in senior law firm and public interest positions worldwide.

This year, the Columbia Law School Jessup team seeks to recruit two (2) new members. Joining as a 1L requires a two-year commitment. Participation in Jessup fulfills the 1L moot court requirement and, as a 2L, may fulfill the minor writing requirement and earn course credit. All Columbia Jessup team members write a portion of the memorials and argue before the judges during competition rounds.

Application Process

1Ls applying for the Columbia Jessup team will be requested to submit a short-written brief arguing one side of a hypothetical contentious case before the ICJ. If selected to advance to the oral rounds, candidates will be requested to present a 10-minute argument for the opposite side of the same case. Candidates will occasionally be interrupted by judges with questions relating to their arguments. Participation on the Columbia team is a substantial commitment, but offers a tremendously rewarding experience that gives students access to exceptional coaching in legal writing and oral advocacy, a forum for intellectually stimulating discussions on issues of international law, and an opportunity to meet law students and practitioners from around the world. Participants will also have access to a superb network of current and former participants, including alumni who have clerked at the ICJ, clerked in the 2nd Circuit, are DOJ Honors, work in the State Department, at Human Rights Watch, within the United Nations, and at top law firms.

What We Do

We represent Columbia Law School at the annual Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, one of the most prestigious law school moot court competitions in the world and dubbed the “Olympics” of international commercial arbitration. The competition attracts over 300 law schools from around the world. The Vis Moot is based on a hypothetical private contractual dispute in international trade. It involves the submission of two written memos and an oral competition held in March in Vienna, Austria. Columbia Law School has a long tradition of sending a team to Vienna and is one of only four schools to have competed every year since the Moot’s founding. The preparation for the written memos begins in the fall. In spring, the team participates in a number of pre-moots held at law schools and law firms in New York. In the past, the Columbia team has also entered pre-moots held in European cities such as Paris, Dusseldorf, Budapest, and The Hague. Columbia has consistently performed well at the Vis Moot, winning the inaugural moot in 1994, the award for best Claimant Memorandum in 2006, and in 2017. In 2018, Columbia’s team received the Pieter Sanders Award for Best Memorandum for Claimant and finished in 3rd place in the oral rounds out of 343 schools, ranking highest among all participating American schools. Over the years, team members have consistently taken home individual speaking and brief awards from the Vienna competition.

How to Join

1L students at Columbia Law School may apply to join the Vis team at the beginning of each school year. There are no course or language pre-requisites. The team will release applications in mid-September and will hold tryouts soon afterwards. Participation in Vis satisfies the moot court component of the Legal Practice Workshop. The Vis team expects 1Ls to stay on as competitors and coaches during the 2L year.

ELMC & Columbia

ELMC is the second-largest international moot court competition in the world, and is considered to be one of the most prestigious in Europe. Each year, the teams must address a problem of European law. For this year’s case, among the complex issues at play are sanctions regimes, investment law, and human rights.

Nearly every year Columbia Law has advanced to the regional rounds in Europe. We have previously won first place at the final round in Luxembourg before the European Court of Justice!

In recent years, the teams have travelled to Sweden, Italy, France, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, and Finland for regionals. The finals rounds are held in the spring before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. Columbia is one of only a handful of American law schools to compete against teams predominantly from Europe. French-speaking team members also have the opportunity to practice arguing in that language—though it should be noted that French competency is by no means necessary.

The 6-8 selected team members will be split into two independent teams of 3-4. All members of the teams will contribute to the brief and have the opportunity to argue in Europe if we advance. 

We look forward to reading your applications!