Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Sturm College of Law international law moot court team heads to finals

As winter ends, the hockey team isn’t the only DU team in the playoffs.

The University of Denver Sturm College of Law international moot court team battled past 22 other teams in super-regional competition in Portland, Ore., to emerge as one of just two teams to make the world championships March 22—28 in Washington, D.C.

The five-member DU team beat out groups from the University of California, Brigham Young and Arizona State among others in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition for the chance to compete in the finals against teams from 80 countries.

“Just to get the chance to go to Washington is an honor,” says team member Ruby Thapliya, a second-year student who also serves as president of the DU International Law Society and serves on the board of the Denver Journal of International Law & Policy.

The regional success is the result of months of preparation. Teams in the Jessup competition are given what’s called a “compromis,” which lays out an issue as it would be argued in the United Nations’ International Court of Justice. This year, the compromis involves disputes that include an ongoing struggle between neighboring countries that date back decades.

In the Jessup competition, teams are required to argue both sides at different times. Preparation requires at least 10 hours per week in meetings, as well as countless hours spent in individual research and preparation.

“There is just a lot of research,” Thapliya says. “The problems are so intricate, every sentence, every word, means something, and to figure that out takes a lot of time and effort.”

DU’s team is made up of Thapliya, Matthew Cooper, Matthew Dardenne, Sunika Pawar and Krishma Parsad.
The team is led by coach John Powell, a veteran Jessup competitor and former editor of the Denver Journal of International Law & Policy. Thapliya says Powell offers keen insights into the competitive process, and has everyone on the team know the case so well they can make their presentations without notes.

“It really is amazing. Our oralists make their arguments all without notes, citing paragraphs and points all from memory,” she says. “It’s supposed to be more of a conversation with the judges. This helps you focus more on making eye contact and making your points.”

Professor Ved Nanda, who founded DU’s Ved Nanda Center for International and Comparative Law, has high praise for the team and the Jessup program.

“This team is brilliant,” he says. “We have had many successes regionally and internationally in these competitions and the University of Denver has a wonderful reputation in this type of competition. I trust that this team will do very, very well. John is a very inspiring coach, and the team has exceptionally good talent.

And for this year’s team, Jessup is more than competition, Thapliya adds. DU was awarded $500 in prize money for their success at the regional. The team plans to donate that money to a team traveling from a developing country, such as Afghanistan or Cambodia, to help cover the trip’s expense.

Comments are closed.