For the second year in a row, a team of Temple Law students has traveled to The Hague to represent the United States at the international round of the International Criminal Court Moot Court competition.
Their path to the Netherlands went through Pace Law School, where Alison Smeallie LAW ’19, Julia Wilkins LAW ’20, and Layal Issa LAW ’20 spent a March weekend competing –and prevailing -against teams from 15 schools throughout the U.S., Canada, and Central America, including NYU Law, Michigan Law, Emory Law, Tulane Law, and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. The team’s stellar performance, including individual awards for best advocate for the defense (Alison Smeallie) and 3rd best (tied) Memorial for the State (Layal Issa), earned them the right to compete in the international round.
While their competitive experience concluded at the end of the preliminary international round, Professor Rick Greenstein, who coaches the team with Professor Meg deGuzman, said that the team’s growth and progress was transformative. “This team became a unit – they learned to support each other as well as what it means to depend on other people in an intensely collaborative enterprise. Even Professor deGuzman and I became a part of that collaboration,” Greenstein remarked.
Greenstein and deGuzman, who have been coaching teams for this competition together since 2013, said that the experience has much to offer law students who are open to the challenge. “On an individual level, students discover capacities they did not know they had,” said Greenstein. By way of example, deGuzman explained that this year, she challenged the team to argue without using notes – and two of them did so, quite successfully.
The experience also builds discipline, as well as a substantive foundation in both international law and advocacy that can launch professional opportunities in international criminal work. To that end, in addition to coaching from Professors deGuzman and Greenstein, the team received advice on issues of international law from Professor Duncan Hollis and was mooted by Director of Advocacy Programs Jules Epstein. Alumna Danielle DerOhannesian LAW ‘18, a member of last year’s team, also returned to offer coaching and support.
But at the end of the day, it was Smeallie, Wilkins, and Issa who stood up to represent the very best of Temple Law on the international stage. “We are deeply proud of this team, both for their hard work and their willingness to grow individually and as a team,” said Professor deGuzman. “Each of them has a bright future as an advocate, no matter what path they choose.”