Patrick Henry College picked up more metal for its trophy case this month when it won the eighth annual Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition in Geneva, Switzerland.
Michael Farris, chancellor of the college in Purcellville, coached the team of rising juniors, William Bock and Helaina Hirsch, to victory July 20.
Patrick Henry College has won multiple national championships in undergraduate moot court competition, but just one other world tournament. The Bock-Hirsch duo was the only team in the competition from an undergraduate school. They competed against teams from 24 law schools, including Yale Law School, the only other American university to qualify for the tournament.
“Everyone else in the tournament were law students and they’ve had many many courses in law, and our students have had three,” Farris said. “It was really exciting.”
The Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition is presented by the Centre for Human Rights and the students presented their arguments in the chamber of the United Nations in front of an impressive panel of judges. It included judges from the South African Constitutional Court, the International Criminal Court, European Court of Human Rights, and two highly regarded law professors.
Students were required to submit extensive briefs based on a hypothetical case involving international law and human rights issues. After the brief writing competition, the best 25 teams from around the world were invited to participate in the oral argument competition.
In the finals, Bock and Hirsch beat a team of law students from Moi University in Kenya. Bock, of Indianapolis, also was awarded the first place oralist in the tournament and Hirsch, of Lafayette, CA, was named the second place oralist. They both won a scholarship to return to Switzerland next year to attend a global human rights academy to study international human rights law.
Since 2004, Patrick Henry College has won nine of the past 12 American Moot Court Association National Championships, regularly facing leading universities including the University of Virginia, Duke and Holy Cross. Its only prior international competition was in 2005 in a successful one-on-one competition with Baliol College of Oxford University.