Skip to content

Fall-Spring 2022 Course

Advocacy Before International Courts and Tribunals

Prerequisite: Open to members of HLS Jessup International Moot Court and Willem Vis International Commercial Arbitration Teams

Exam Type: No Exam

This course, which is intended for students participating in the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition and and the Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, is designed to hone advanced written and oral advocacy skills for use in proceedings before international courts and tribunals.

The course consists of three parts. The short introductory portion surveys the landscape of international courts and tribunals, including those constituted to resolve disputes between States, such as the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, and ad hoc inter-State arbitral tribunals; those that arbitrate disputes between foreign investors and States, such as tribunals formed by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes; and those that resolve private international commercial disputes, such as arbitrations conducted under the auspices of the International Chamber of Commerce. Each of these forms of dispute resolution will be examined with an emphasis on the style of advocacy appropriate to the particular forum before which the dispute is heard.

The second part of the course focuses on written advocacy. Each student will be assigned responsibility for researching and drafting a substantial part of the brief required by the Jessup or Vis competition. The students’ successive drafts will be subject to extensive critique and analysis by peers, guided by the instructor in a manner consistent with the rules of the competition. To assist in developing the drafts, this part of the course begins by identifying the key issues in the case that emerge from the problem described in the Jessup and Vis materials and developing research strategies for achieving a comprehensive understanding of those issues. Students will then devise strategies for planning the organizational structure of the brief, including through detailed outlining. In doing so, particular attention will be paid to developing logical flow of argumentation. Specific topics that will be addressed include techniques for achieving an effective integration of facts and law; applying the case law of international courts and tribunals to the dispute at issue; interpreting treaties through the relevant principles set out in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties; developing arguments concerning whether (or not) there are relevant rules of customary international law in light of State practice and opinio juris; and learning how to anticipate and preempt arguments that might be made by the opposing party. Students will also learn strategies for editing and refining the brief prior to its submission.

The final part of the course focuses on oral advocacy. Drawing from the issues in the competition, each student will be assigned a topic for oral argument and develop mastery over their issue through intensive, iterative practice. Specific oral advocacy skills that will be covered include selecting what arguments to emphasize; developing an effective organizational structure; time-management; anticipating questions from the bench; and delivering compelling rebuttal and sur-rebuttal arguments. In addition, significant attention will be paid sharpening effective oral argument style.

Note: The first class meeting will be held on November 30.