Jessup Cup

Main Content

The Jessup Cup, now in its fifth decade at Duke Law, is Duke Law’s intramural tournament based on The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.

Each fall, Duke Law students compete for Moot Court Board membership by arguing a closed-universe international law problem before the International Court of Justice. Duke's Jessup Cup is open to all enrolled students including LLMs. 

The top ten percent (10%) of eligible competitors will be selected for Moot Court Board membership. Additionally, Duke Jessup Cup finalists are eligible for participation in the intercollegiate Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition with the exception of LLMs who have previously practiced law in any jurisdiction.

Questions can be submitted to

History of the Intercollegiate Competition

The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is organized by the International Law Student Association and takes place in the spring of each year. At the regional level, students in the United States compete against approximately a dozen other schools. Regional champions advance to the international rounds held each spring in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American Society of International Law (ASIL). In Washington, D.C., the various U.S. regional champions compete against each other, and then against national champions from Jessup Competitions held throughout the world to determine the Jessup Competition World Champions.

The Jessup Competition began in 1959 as an advocacy competition between law students from Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Virginia. Since that time, the competition has grown to become the largest and most prestigious international law moot court competition. Today, approximately 1,500 students from more than 600 law schools and well over 100 nations participate in Jessup.

Duke Law has an excellent history at the regional, national, and international levels of the Jessup competition. In 1968, Duke Law prevailed as the Jessup Competition World Champions. In, 2000, the Duke Law Jessup Team captured a regional championship and went on to Washington, D.C. to become the United States Jessup Champions, where they lost in the World Competition quarterfinals to the Jessup team from Ireland. The 2010 team advanced undefeated to the Superregionals, earning two individual "Best Oralist" awards.

Duke Jessup Rules, in Brief

Any 1L, 2L, 3L, or LLM candidate may participate in the intramural Jessup Cup competition. Knowledge of International Law and/or past or current enrollment in International Law courses, although helpful, is not required for participation.

Once registered, competitors MUST compete. Given the number of people involved in and the complexity of the Jessup Cup, the only conflicts recognized by the coordinators involve (1) classes scheduled during proposed argument times, (2) religious observations, or (3) serious health issues.  Competitors may NOT miss class or use class time to prepare for or compete in the Jessup Cup.

Students will receive the fact pattern and selected materials to prepare their arguments on Tuesday, September 18, before the September 22 preliminary rounds. The competition is closed-universe, and students may only refer to this webpage and the provided materials. It is an Honor Code violation to discuss the problem with anyone or consult any additional materials, including Jessup Cup problems or briefs, outside the closed set of materials specifically provided by the coordinators.

Competitors argue both sides of the case during preliminary rounds. Each competitor will therefore be assigned a time, room, and opponent for each argument. Competitors who advance beyond the preliminary rounds will be randomly assigned one side to argue by the Jessup Cup Coordinators.

Competitors are allocated 10 minutes for argument in the preliminary, quarterfinal, and semifinal rounds. The agent for the Applicant may elect to reserve up to 2 minutes of that time for rebuttal. Competitors in the Final Round are allocated 12 minutes for argument. The agent for the Applicant may again elect to reserve up to 2 minutes of that time for rebuttal. Competitors will be given time updates by the judges or bailiff (if one is present).

The scoring sheet that will be used will be available before the competition begins, and listed on this website.