SUNY Buffalo Law team near the top in global moot court competition

Kevin Espinosa '09, Stephanie Forman '15, Henry Zomerfeld '14, Jessica Noto '14, Andrew Dean ‘14, John Land ‘14, Michael Hecker '09 at the Midwest Super Regional Round held April 6-12 in Washington, DC

Published May 7, 2014

All four of the SUNY Buffalo Law School students who competed at the 2014 Phillip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition placed among the top 30 oralists in the world at the global Competition’s recently-concluded International Rounds.  Two SUNY-Buffalo team members finished among the world’s top 10.

The SUNY Buffalo team advanced to this worldwide Competition’s “sweet sixteen” round before its elimination, and it was the only team in the Competition to finish with four oralists in the top 50. 

The Philip C. Jessup Competition is the world’s largest and most prestigious moot court competition. It focuses on international appellate advocacy in a hypothetical case that is set before the International Court of Justice. More than 620 teams and 2,000 law students from 89 countries registered for this year’s competition. Through a series of regional and national competitions, the field of competitors for the April 2014 International Rounds was narrowed from 620 to 124. 

The SUNY-Buffalo team had qualified for the April 2014 Jessup Cup International Rounds by earlier winning the U.S. Midwest Regional Round in Chicago with an undefeated 7-0 record, ahead of 20 other US law schools. The team was comprised of third-year students Andrew Dean, John Land, Jessica Noto, and Henry Zomerfeld. Second-year student Stephanie Forman served as the alternate, “of counsel.”

In the International Rounds, held April 6 to 12 in Washington, D.C., the SUNY Buffalo team defeated Columbia Law School, the University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and John Marshall Law School. At the conclusion of the Washington competition’s preliminary rounds, SUNY Buffalo Law was ranked 21st out of the 124 teams and had the fifth-highest overall raw score.

The team then defeated the University of Malaya (Malaysia) in the round of 32 before falling to the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia) in the round of 16. 

Two team members, Land and Zomerfeld, finished the competition in the top 10 of all worldwide competitors. Land was the second-highest-ranked oralist, and Zomerfeld tied for seventh place. Among competitors from the United States, they ranked No. 1 and No. 3, respectively. Land had also won Best Oralist in the Chicago competition’s final round.

Dean and Noto ranked 14th and 30th, respectively, among all worldwide participants and both finished in the top ten among competitors from the United States. Second-year student Forman served as alternate throughout the U.S. Regional and International Rounds and will return to compete on next year’s SUNY Buffalo Law School Jessup team.

Kevin Espinosa ’09, Vice President and Counsel at M&T Bank, and Michael Hecker ’09, an Associate in the Environment and Energy Practice Group of Hodgson Russ LLP, were the team’s coaches. Both serve as adjunct faculty and as board members of the Law Alumni Association Graduates of the Last Decade Group. Professor George Kannar serves as the Law School’s Director of Moot Courts.