High-Level Spanish Skills Pay Off in Moot Madrid - Best Oralist Honorable Mention Win

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Four students from Miami Law’s International Moot Court team advanced to the semifinal rounds and won two Honorable Mention awards at Moot Madrid 2017, an international commercial arbitration competition that is conducted entirely in Spanish. International Arbitration J.D./LL.M. student Michael Rodriguez received an honorable mention as best oralist.

Osmany Perez, Michael Rodriguez, Kellie Portie, Raul Gonzalez, Paula Arias & Luis O'Naughten

“Moot Madrid not only helped me sharpen my analytical skills, it also allowed me to improve my Spanish at such a high-level that I was able to win honorable mention for best oralist in a competition filled with Latin Americans and Spaniards,” said Rodriguez, who recently accepted a summer position with Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer in Washington D.C.

“This ability will serve me well as I begin my international arbitration career; in fact, my oral and written Spanish fluency is one of the reasons Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer offered me the summer associate position.”

The team, which also included International Arbitration J.D./LL.M. students Kellie Portie and Raúl González, and LL.M. student Osmany Perez, was coached by Paula Arias, director of the International Moot Court Program and Luis O’Naughten, an adjunct professor for the International Arbitration LL.M. program and a partner in Baker & McKenzie’s North American Litigation Practice and International Arbitration Group.

Miami Law’s team also won an honorable mention for the claimant’s brief.  

“Madrid changed me,” said Portie, a Cuban-trained attorney. “Madrid was the perfect opportunity to test my strength and my craziest theories, an opportunity to give the best of me. I learned the importance of strengthening my oral skills.”

The international commercial arbitration competition is similar to the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot but the case, memorials, and oral arguments are all presented in Spanish.

Miami Law has been the only U.S. law school participant at Moot Madrid for the last eight years, until this year when Brooklyn Law also competed.  Miami Law teams historically have had success, including a second place win two years ago.

“Being part of the Moot Madrid allowed me to develop every aspect of my advocacy skills,” said Gonzalez, a lawyer from the Dominican Republic. “The Moot Court is the perfect stage to showcase your abilities and more importantly is a great opportunity to network with others in the field of International Arbitration. The time and effort you put in cannot be measured, but the reward is all worth it.”

Added Portie, “After MOOT Madrid, I am definitely ready for the real international arbitration world.”