Students represent KU in Moot Court Competition

Joining Harvard, American and Queens Universities, four School of Law graduate students will represent the University of Kansas in Geneva next month.

“It’s no more of a surprise [to see KU Law listed amongst these prestigious universities] than it should be to see Kansas Jayhawks in the final four of the NCAA tournament,” said Raj Bhala, an Associate Dean with the School of Law. “We’re a darn good law school and have a darn good international and comparative law program.”

Bruno Simões, Ryan Thornton, Jade Martin and Matthew O’Neill qualified as semifinalists in the All America Regional Round of the European Law Students’ Association Moot Court Competition in Escazú, Costa Rica.

“Pretty much all of Christmas break and January was spent writing our briefs and doing initial research,” Martin said. “We had 15 practice rounds and, after each, we discussed what our pros and cons were.”

After placing fifth of 54 two-person teams in last year’s School of Law’s in-house competition, partners Simões and Thornton qualified to represent the University at a national or international competition of their choice. Both interested in international trade and finance, the two selected the ELSA Moot Court Competition and reached out to Martin and O’Neill to create the four-man team.

The competition takes the format of a World Trade Organization dispute settlement mock hearing. Orally debating before a panel of judges including former U.S. trade representatives, World Trade Organization members and well-known trade attorneys, the team advanced to place as semifinalist.

“It was maybe intimidating at first but during it, we realized that we were prepared enough to answer questions from the judges that were very qualified,” Simões said. “It was really nice to have that level of questioning—it really helped us hone in our arguments and see what we need to focus on as we move on to the world finals.”

The international finals is a return trip for the Jayhawks, as the 2009 KU Law team traveled to the international finals in Taiwan. The School of Law sponsors both travel and competition entry expenses.

“Success at these competitions enhances our global name brand and thereby opens doors for our students to get jobs around the world and encourages prospective law students to come to KU,” Bhala said. “It also opens doors for our faculty to enter into research and teaching and moot court collaboration with international schools.”

This year’s competition dealt with reforms and emergency measures made during economic crisis, including guaranteeing domestic, commercial bank deposits like in Germany and theoretical currency devaluation created by using two currency exchange rates. The team debates three members at a time, each arguing for and against an action and possible responses.

“We are focusing on shoring up our arguments that we already have prepared,” Simões said. “And assessing our style of argument to be better received by the European panel.”

The team will travel to Geneva to compete against 20 other top teams in the international finals April 30 through May 5.

Emily is a sophomore studying English from Kansas City, Kan. Read more from .

  • Updated Mar. 28, 2013 at 12:35 pm
  • Edited by Tyler Conover