For the second year in a row, a team of Harvard Law School students won the North American regional moot court competition on WTO law at the ELSA Moot Court Competition (EMC²). The second annual competition was held in San Jose, Costa Rica and was organized in cooperation with the Costa Rican Society of International Law.
Winning team members Al-Amyn Sumar ’13, Derrick Sutter ’14, and Colette van der Ven ’14 will participate in the international final round, which will take place at the WTO Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, between April 30 and May 5.
The ELSA Moot Court Competition is a simulated hearing of the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement system and is organized annually by The European Law Students’ Association (ELSA). The competition is open to teams from around the globe.
Professor Mark Wu, an expert in international trade and intellectual property law, has served as the WTO moot court team faculty adviser for the past two years. According to Wu, the team faced a difficult problem this year concerning exchange rates, subsidies, and the institutional relationship between the WTO and IMF. “It was fun to advise them as they grappled with the legal ambiguities and shaped their arguments,” he said. “Their victory is a testament to their long hours of hard work and dedication.”
In addition to winning the North American regional championship, the team also won for Best Respondent Brief. Sumar won Best Oralist in the Preliminary Rounds, tied for Best Oralist in the Semifinal Round, and won Best Oralist for the Final Round.
“My experience as a participant in the ELSA WTO Moot Competition has been just as rewarding as it has been challenging,” said Sumar. “I’ve learned a tremendous amount about international trade law, sharpened my oral advocacy skills, and developed an appreciation for how to work with a team to craft a persuasive legal brief.”
Michael Jacobson ’13, who was a member of last year’s team that won the North American Regionals and placed third in the global finals, coached this year’s team.
“I’m excited about the WTO Moot Court team’s successes at the North America competition in Costa Rica,” said Jacobson. “This year’s case was particularly difficult, addressing issues surrounding the global financial crisis and currency manipulation.”
Team member van der Ven said: “Participating in WTO Moot Court has been a truly invaluable experience to me. The challenge of arguing two sides of an nontraditional WTO case, dealing with complex elements of international trade law, managing surprising questions in oral argument and working together with a great team has equipped me with new skills that will be invaluable in becoming an international trade lawyer.”
Team members were selected based on tryouts held in the fall. Preparation for the competition included writing briefs for both the complainant and respondent sides of the case, which required significant research on WTO case law and scholarly writings on the issues. After submitting their briefs, the team met several times a week leading up to the competition to prepare for oral arguments.
Among the distinguished judges this year for both the semifinal and final rounds was Jennifer Hillman ’83, a former member of the WTO Appellate Body and currently the senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund.
Following the event, Jacobson stated, “The team spent countless hours researching, briefing, testing, and arguing the issues and displayed a strong command of WTO law and oral advocacy skills. Colette, Al-Amyn, and Derrick pulled together as a team to write terrific briefs and to argue very strong and nuanced positions on oral argument. As a former ELSA WTO Moot competitor and now-coach, I couldn’t be more proud of the team’s performance at the moot before very distinguished panels of international trade experts.”