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International Moot Court Launches Academic Year With Glance at Past and Focus on Future

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Paula C. Arias and Jessica Lee

Paula C. Arias and Jessica Lee. (Photo: Nick Madigan/Miami Law) Full-Size Photo

Miami Law's International Moot Court Program held a reception recently to welcome new participants, students who will represent the school in legal competitions around the world. The event, held in the Alma Jennings Foundation Student Lounge, also honored students and faculty who took part in the program over the last year.

Paula Arias, Director of the International Moot Court Program and Lecturer in Law, made the following remarks at the reception:

You probably have read this quote: "We ought not rest satisfied with mediocrity when excellence is within our reach."

Justice Joseph Story actually is the author of that meaningful statement, which I found in an article written by Edith Henderson on the Harvard Law School Bulletin in 1953 that talks about moot court in its early days. She is a historian and librarian who found a series of reports from the 1820s that reflected how moot court played an important part in the early life of the school.

She recounts the evening sessions when the moot court met, during which concrete facts and situations came before the students; how the students presented their cases and developed their knowledge of the law. She actually concludes that from 1820 to 1833, the reports of the moot court sessions evolved to the point that it was very difficult to distinguish those from the ones of a real court at that time. All of that actually translates to a few words, she said: the educational importance of the moot court work.

But probably you all are here because you all know that already and there is no need to recount a story, or review the history like Edith, to appreciate the importance of the moot court as a learning experience.

However, there is something that you did not know, and it is that Justice Joseph Story played a key role in the moot court practice during the 1820s. Justice Story actually played the role as the Chief Justice of the moots and gave real judgments in the cases. The case law from the moot court demonstrates the clarity of his logic, because he actually analyzed the circumstance with care and adjudicated with reasonableness. It also demonstrates that the arguments made by the moot counsels were carefully created and professionally presented.

Therefore, Justice Story and the students in the early days, not only by getting involved but also by fully adjudicating and discussing the cases, considered the educational importance of the moot court and the importance of not resting satisfied with mediocrity when excellence is within our reach.

With Justice Story and his statement in mind, I invite you all to be part of the 2012-2013 IMCP year and make it one of the best academic years.

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Laura Burgess, Paula C. Arias and Carlos Nuñez

Laura Burgess, Paula C. Arias and Carlos Nuñez. (Photo: Nick Madigan/Miami Law) Full-Size Photo

Paula C. Arias and Joseph Matthews

Paula C. Arias and Joseph Matthews. (Photo: Nick Madigan/Miami Law) Full-Size Photo