MORGANTOWN -– Last year, the West Virginia University College of Law's International Law Students Association chapter was in need of rejuvenation.
With only four members, the chapter was unable to hold meetings or sponsor events and only participated in one competition.
Despite the odds associated with reviving a dying chapter, the 2011-2012 school year welcomed a new group of passionate students who were able to revitalize and re-invent ILSA. The group was picked as the 2012 ILSA Most Improved Chapter Award. The award included $100 to spend on next year's programming.
The award is given annually to the chapter that shows the most growth in a year's time. Many national chapters are nominated, but it was WVU's outstanding demonstration of growth that stood out to the judges. Since its rebirth, the chapter's membership grew from four to 20 and regular meetings were held throughout the semester. Also, a new constitution was drafted and new officer positions were put in place. To demonstrate its new spirit, the chapter held an international food themed potluck dinner at an international law professor's house. Each member cooked a dish from a different country and shared their international stories and experiences.
Its academic contributions included the International Law Lecture Series, in which the group brought three innovative speakers to the law school throughout the fall semester to speak to students about current international issues.
Also, some ILSA members took the initiative find new experiences outside the law school. They attended the International Law Weekend in New York where they heard Korean-American lawyer and Legal Adviser of the Department of State Harold Koh speak, learned about relevant international law issues and met international law practitioners.
Five chapter members participated in ILSA's regional Phillip C. Jessup Law Moot Court Competition and won a second place award for their memorials, which are briefs that outline possible positions and strategies of defense and prosecution in a particular case. WVU had not won a Jessup team award since the 1970s. The team was coached by College of Law professors Gregory Bowman and James Friedberg.
"Jessup was not only an incredible professional experience but a great personal one as well," said ILSA member and Jessup competitor Derek Knopp. "Building professional and personal connections was the best part of Jessup."
"Having the chance to lead a group dedicated to the furtherance of international law, and its capacity for global change, was an absolute honor," said ILSA President and Jessup co-captain Mina Ghantous. "I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have been surrounded by students as passionate about international law as me, and professors and faculty as dedicated to their students and their love of international law as those we have at WVU."