In 2010, Miami Law became the first university in the United States to establish an International Moot Court Program. While moot court has long been a critical staple in virtually every American law school, never before was there a program that taught oral and written advocacy through a series of moot competitions across the world.
What began as an experiment by Dean Emerita Patricia D. White, the program has blossomed into one of the most active and rewarding in the U.S. On its 10th anniversary, IMCP remains the only program of its kind in the country, emblematic of the exceptional international opportunities provided by Miami Law.
70+ Multinational Competitions Since Inception, Some Argued in Spanish, Portuguese
Over the past decade, more than 250 law students participated in 73 competitions – roughly seven competitions annually. Students have come from across the country and the world, including Argentina, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, and Zimbabwe.
The competitions have been just as diverse, spanning six out of seven continents; three languages (English, Spanish, and Portuguese), and over a dozen countries, including Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands, Singapore, and Australia. The uniquely multinational flavor—and the opportunity to travel the world and network with a global community of legal practitioners—has made IMCP a highly sought-after activity at Miami Law.
"Without a doubt, my participation was the most fulfilling experience of my law school career,” said Australia Alba, J.D. ‘14, who competed in a competition at the Universidad del Rosario in Bogota, Colombia. “I gained practical experience and honed the analytical, research, and oral advocacy skills that practicing attorneys must-have. I am certain that during the rest of my legal career, I will continue to draw upon the skills and knowledge I obtained in the competition."
Not Just International Law - Human Rights, Criminal, Arbitration and More
Contrary to its name, the program is not limited to students solely interested in international law. From commercial arbitration and investor-state disputes to international human rights and criminal law, IMCP covers most every major area of law and attracts many future practitioners. Given the rapid globalization of the legal sector, the program has helped imbue an increasingly vital spirit of cosmopolitanism and cross-cultural collaboration, a fitting testament to a global city like Miami.
Many of the program’s skills – persuasive written and oral advocacy, meticulous research, time management and organization, collaboration, and resilience — translate well into any legal career, not to mention any profession overall.
Over the past ten years, International Moot Court teams have come home with more than 35 oralist awards or honorable mentions, more than 15 brief awards, and three wins, including the prestigious Frankfurt Investment Arbitration Moot. Miami Law has often outperformed schools with world-renowned international and legal programs. Most noticeably, in at least four moot competitions, it was the only American team participating, including the recent International Commercial Arbitration Competition, which was held virtually and conducted solely in Spanish. IMCP students have also advanced to seven moot finals and the quarter- or semi-finals of 25 other moots; this is no small feat for a U.S. school, given the stiff competition from schools worldwide.
One-of-a-Kind Program with Dedicated Leadership, Coaches, Alumni
The program has come a long way under the direction of Paula Arias, J.D. ’09, who comes from Medellin, Colombia, and has practiced law in both her native country and the U.S. Besides embodying the program’s multicultural spirit, she has actively taken part in its growth and expansion, including personally coaching hundreds of students (who affectionately refer to her as “Profe”).
“Ten years later, as I look back and take stock of the many students who went through the program, I can't help but feel humbled to see how they undergo a transformation and come alive as lawyers, individuals, and teams,” said Arias. “The academic imprint is tremendous and, in their own words, transformative. However, it is all about the journey: the obstacles conquered, the frustrations turned into breakthroughs, the long hours, and the camaraderie that makes it all worth it.”
Through Arias’s initiative, the International Moot Court Program has cultivated a large and passionate base of alumni, coaches, and supporters, many of whom are prominent legal practitioners and scholars in their own right. They include John Rooney, Luis O’Naghten, Leticia Mora, Seguimundo Navarro, Quinn Smith, Daniel Vielleville, Andrew Riccio, Joseph Matthews, Elisha Sullivan, the late Stephen Maher, Robert Sondack, Judge Butchko, and Sandra Friedrich, to name only a few.
While IMCP’s 10th anniversary has landed amidst a global pandemic, it is clear that the program will continue to thrive and flourish in the years to come.
“My students have helped shape the person I am today, and for that, I am humbled and thankful,” said Arias.
IMCP News Highlights from the Past Decade