The International Law Students Association (ILSA) today announced that its chief executive, Lesley Benn, will be leaving her position after nearly a decade of service.
In a letter to the Board of Directors, donors, and close friends of the organization, Board Chair Mark Luz wrote earlier today, “It is with both sadness and gratitude that I announce that Lesley Benn will be stepping down as Executive Director of the International Law Students Association on 31 January 2022.”
Ms. Benn joined the organization in 2012, after a decade in private law practice. During her tenure, she grew ILSA into the largest organization of law students in the world. ILSA’s flagship program, the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, now boasts participants from more than 700 law schools in more than 100 countries.
As the COVID-19 epidemic made in-person moot courts impossible, Ms. Benn took the Jessup online, organizing the first-ever “Global Rounds,” a six-week, twenty-four hours a day event involving competitors and judges from around the world. With more than 6,000 students, academicians, scholars, and lawyers, the 2021 Global Rounds of the Jessup Competition were the largest gathering of international legal professionals in history.
To acknowledge the magnitude of this achievement, the ILSA Board of Directors created a new “Lesley Benn Award,” to recognize exceptional individuals who, in the face of personal and professional adversity, demonstrate exemplary creativity, fortitude, and resilience in their efforts to promote and protect international law.
“Although I will be departing from ILSA, the Jessup will always be part of who I am and what I believe in,” Ms. Benn said. “I am confident that ILSA is poised to enter an exciting period in its history, and I think now is the time to make room for new leadership with fresh visions for the future.”
In his letter, Mr. Luz announced that current Programs Director Tessa Walker would serve as interim Executive Director through the end of the present Jessup season. Ms. Walker has worked with the organization for more than seven years.
Mr. Luz also stated that the Board of Directors will immediately commence its search for the next chief executive. The Board’s intention, according to his letter, is “to widen and deepen our community’s global connections, and to deploy those connections to address the seemingly intractable problems that face us.”