International Moot Court Teams Meet With Success – One Team Advances to Worldwide Competition in The Hague


HBNA - Stephanie Koutsodendris & Belekenia Candelario at the Hispanic National Bar Association 20th Annual Uvaldo Herrera Moot Court CompetitionMiami Law’s International Moot Court teams recently participated in two moot competitions and placed highly in both.

The team of Jhanile Smith, Victoria Samuels, and Shawn Abuhoff, all 2Ls, competed at the International Criminal Court Moot Regional Round, held at Pace University School of Law, where they came in second place. As one of the two highest scored teams, they advanced to the finals in The Hague, to compete against qualifying teams from around the world in April.

"Participating in the moot competition was amazing,” said Samuels. “My team and I had the opportunity to study an interesting area of law, practice our oral advocacy skills, meet students and professionals from all around the world, and most importantly, bond with one another and Professor Arias. I am looking forward to preparing for the competition in The Hague and representing the University of Miami!"

Professor Paula Arias coached the team of 2Ls. Each of the students represented one of the parties from the court: Government Counsel, Prosecutor and Victims Representative. The case concerned the scenario of a DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack as a war crime in the context of state secession and the exercise of the right of self-determination.

“The experience of competing in the regional rounds was both exciting and nerve-racking,” said Abuhoff. “The end result of qualifying to compete in the international rounds at The Hague just made all of the hard work our team put in over the past 8 months truly worth it and was very surreal. We're all very excited to represent the law school at The Hague and I'm personally looking forward to the challenge of facing teams from around the world.”

ICC - Victoria Samuels, Shawn Abuhoff & Jhanile Smith at the International Criminal Court Moot Regional Round.The team of Belkenia Candelario, 3L, and Stephanie Koutsodendris, 2L, competed at the Hispanic National Bar Association 20th Annual Uvaldo Herrera Moot Court Competition in San Antonio, Texas. During the Corporate Counsel Annual Conference organized by the HNBA, they advanced to the quarter finals.

The students had to write one brief on behalf of the petitioners but the team argued orally on both sides of the case - petitioner and government. The case dealt with freedom of expression, Facebook and internet postings, and the criminalization of the ideas expressed in social media. It was the first time Miami Law advanced to the quarter finals in this moot.

“Being a part of the international moot court program has been extremely rewarding for me,” said Candelario. “During my two competitions, I have dramatically improved my advocacy and writing abilities. The HNBA competition in San Antonio was a win-win because it was both a great academic and networking experience.”

Judge Bertila Ana Soto, JD ‘89 and Stephen Maher, JD ‘75 from Shutts and Bowen helped Arias coach the team.

“Being a part of the international moot court team was better than I ever imagined,” said Koutsodendris. “It taught me how to be an effective oral advocate, learn how to think on my feet, argue both sides, conduct better research on case law, and most importantly, how to work with a partner effectively to accomplish a common goal. It was by far my favorite experience at UM.”

“The program is designed to allow students to grow, identify and learn the type of advocates they are capable of being," said Arias. "It is always a privilege to observe them growing and transforming."