[L-R] WTO Moot Court Team members Danielle Bart '13, Michael Jacobson '13, Chris Yap '12

[L-R] WTO Moot Court Team members Danielle Bart ’13, Michael Jacobson ’13, Chris Yap ’12

On March 3, the Harvard Law School WTO moot court team won the North America regional at the ELSA Moot Court Competition (EMC²) on WTO Law.  This year’s competition was held at American University Washington College of Law in Washington D.C. This was the first year a team from HLS has competed.

The team, which is made up of members Danielle Bart ‘13, Ashley Chung ‘12, Michael Jacobson ’13, team captain, and Chris Yap ‘12, will now compete in the global finals in Montpellier, France, in May.

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.

Last year, a team from the University of Melbourne, Australia won the final round of the competition, which was held in Evian, France and Geneva, Switzerland.

Harvard Law School’s team was formed by Jacobson last summer. After taking Professor Mark Wu’s international trade class last spring, Jacobson researched moot court opportunities and asked Wu to serve as team adviser for the WTO Moot Court competition.

“It’s been a lot of fun to work with the team,” said Wu. “They did a tremendous job grappling with the textual ambiguities and case law on a wide range of trade law issues, from tariff classifications to trade remedies. It’s fantastic to see their hard work pay off, and I’m very proud of them.”

Tryouts were held in the fall and the team got to work preparing for the competition. Preparations 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.

After the competition, Jacobson said, “This has been an invaluable experience for me. As someone who wants to appear before a WTO panel or appellate body hearing at some point in my career, it was great to go through the process of working with a team to put together briefs and prepare for an oral argument. And having the opportunity to present a case and receive questions from panels of international trade experts was an amazing experience.”

The North American regional final was judged by a panel of five trade experts, including Jennifer Hillman ’83, until recently a member of the WTO Appellate Body, and Daniel Brinza ’79, Senior Counsel for Dispute Settlement, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

“The ELSA competition has become one of the premier moot court competitions in the world and draws very dedicated and talented advocates from all corners of the globe,” said Hillman. “All ELSA teams are judged anonymously, with no one knowing what law schools any of the teams hail from, so I was especially proud when I discovered that the winning team was from Harvard. There were so many outstanding teams in the competition; the Harvard team deserves strong congratulations.”

In addition to placing first overall, the team won the awards for the best Overall Written Submission and best Complainant Brief. Bart and Jacobson tied for Best Orator in the preliminary rounds and Yap won Best Orator in the semifinal and final rounds.