In June, law school teams from around the world gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, to compete before World Trade Organization experts at the world finals of the ELSA Moot Court competition. The Harvard Law School WTO moot court team advanced to the semifinals and tied for third place. West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, from Kolkata, India, won this year’s competition.
The HLS team qualified for the world finals after winning the North American regional competition for the fourth consecutive year. This marks the third time in four years that Harvard’s team has advanced to the world semifinals — the most consistent showing of any university worldwide in recent years.
Harvard Law School’s winning team members are Astina Au LL.M. ’15, Mengyi Wang ’15, Habin Chung ‘16 and Jillian Ventura ’17.
The ELSA Moot Court Competition is a simulated hearing of the WTO dispute settlement system and is organized annually by the European Law Students’ Association. The competition is open to teams from around the globe. Panelists included legal staff of the WTO Secretariat, Ambassador to the WTO, law firm partners and leading academics.
Following the event, Ventura, who will coach next year’s team, said: “As a 1L, competing in the ELSA Moot Court Competition was immeasurably helpful to my growth as a law student and legal professional. From brief writing to crafting oral arguments, my repertoire of legal knowledge and skill grew exponentially throughout the course of the year. We spent hours dissecting the complex legal issues and thinking creatively about how to best structure our arguments.”
Harvard Law School Professor Mark Wu, an expert in international trade law, has served as the WTO moot court team faculty adviser since its inception four years ago. “Harvard was represented this year by an amazing group of women from around the world,” remarked Wu. “The team did a fabulous job grappling with a difficult case based on recent real-world events.”
Kamola Kobildjanova ’15 and Jason Nichol ’15, members of the 2013-2014 team that placed second in the world finals, coached this year’s team. Their 2013-14 team also won several writing awards, including best written submissions overall and best complainants’ brief. And team member Daniel Holman ’14 received the best oralist award in last year’s grand final.
“The ELSA WTO Moot Court competition is an invaluable opportunity to dive into complex legal and policy issues in trade law, to meet with trade law professionals, academics, and fellow students from all over the world,” said Kobildjanova. “Jason and I are incredibly proud of the team’s accomplishments and performance during the regional and international rounds this year. We felt really privileged to work alongside the team and get an opportunity to represent Harvard Law School in Geneva yet another year.”
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.