Moot en Español - Students Head to Uruguay International Arbitration Competition

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For Miami International Arbitration J.D./LL.M. student Frank Carrasco, fear is not spoken in Spanish.

The Dean's Merit Scholar, president of the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, and managing editor of the Inter-American Law Review, says he learned Spanish from his grandmother growing up, though that is not to say he isn't a wee bit nervous about the upcoming top-tier international arbitration moot competition coming up at the University of Montevideo, Uruguay later this week.

Frank Carrasco, J.D/LL.M. student

“My grandmother lived with us and helped raise me. Since she didn’t speak English I grew up speaking Spanish at home. However, as soon as I got into school, I learned English and soon Spanglish became the standard,” Carrasco says. “I came into the competition pretty confident about my ability to speak Spanish, but quickly learned that though my Spanish is very good, it was going to take a lot of work to get my Spanish to the next level required for this international arbitration competition.”

Samuel C. Goodman, 3L, Professor Paula Arias, Director of Miami Law’s International Moot Court Program, and Professor Sandra Friedrich, Director of the White & Case International Arbitration LL.M. Program, will join Carrasco, who will complete his degrees in international arbitration in May 2017, for the UBA-Rosario Competencia Internacional de Arbitraje.

Jointly organized by the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the University of Rosario, in Colombia, and hosted this year by the University of Montevideo Uruguay, it is the biggest international arbitration moot in Latin America.  The competition aims to promote the study of international commercial arbitration, as large multi-national corporations and the international business community are turning more often towards using conflict resolution to resolve their cross-border disputes.

Carrasco and the team will be representing Miami Law for the fourth year; this year's topic in the Spanish-language only competition is a commercial arbitration arising out of a sale of stocks. Miami is the only U.S. law school to compete in the three-day match against teams from 51 schools from a variety of countries throughout Latin America.

Most of Miami Law's international arbitration moot competitors are students in the White & Case International Arbitration LL.M. Program. The program, under the leadership of Professor Jan Paulsson, provides an individualized unparalleled curriculum and unique practical learning opportunities for a small group of top-quality students from around the globe, wishing to acquire in-depth knowledge and skills in the field of international arbitration as a platform for a successful career. The program - the only one of its kind in the United States - is open to U.S. and foreign-trained law graduates and attorneys, and is ideal for newcomers to the field or experienced practitioners looking to enrich their skills and knowledge. For the first time this year, Miami Law offers a half-tuition merit scholarship to a participant of the UBA Moot.

“Frank is a very talented student with strong academic credentials who first impressed me with a paper written for a course I taught on International Business Transactions that demonstrated his creative legal thinking and thorough analytical skills,” Friedrich says. “He has since joined our International Arbitration LL.M. Program and has shown great dedication to the study of international dispute resolution and international business law more broadly.  I think he will do very well in this challenging competition.”

If history is any indication, Miami Law should do very well in Uruguay. Arias has spent months coaching the team with mock debates. In Miami Law's first showing at the UBA in 2011, second-year student Jessica Marroquin received an honorable mention for best oralist in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2014, in Lima, Peru, International Arbitration J.D./LL.M. student Kristy Alvarez took the prize for best oralist, while team member and fellow international arbitration student Kevin Correa received an honorable mention.

“I have been working with Frank and Samuel for over a year to prepare legal briefs and oral arguments on complex issues of international commercial arbitration and civil law-based contract law, and most importantly, on their proficiency in legal Spanish,” says Arias. “Frank and Samuel welcomed the challenge and have worked tirelessly to comprehend the legal and factual intricacies of the case and the complexities of international arbitration law.”

Miami Law’s International Moot Court Program prepares students not only to succeed in the competitions but also provides them with a set of practical skills indispensable to lawyers practicing internationally.  

And Carrasco spent the summer drafting motions for arbitration before the International Center for Dispute Resolution at Miami-based commercial litigation firm Hamilton, Miller & Birthisel, LLP.

“Competing in this competition has brought my whole legal education together,” Carrasco says. “I’ve been able to perfect my Spanish, work on legal reasoning, hone my oral advocacy skills and study law from a civil law perspective. Because of this, in the future, when I represent a client in a cross-border dispute, I’ll be able to confidently look them in the eye and say: ‘Don’t worry, I’ve got this!’”