International Moot Court Team Achieves Success in 1st Virtual Moot Competition in Spanish

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Moot court team with Paula Arias

International Moot Court team with Paula Arias

The International Moot Court team of 2Ls Estefania Lalinde and Alessandro Diaz-Barandiarian and 3L Beatriz Garcia recently participated in its first-ever virtual Spanish competition – the International Commercial Arbitration Competition. The moot competition hosted 58 schools from all over Latin America. Miami Law’s team was the only team from the United States and was awarded the third-best respondent brief during the competition.

"One of the things I looked forward to the most prior to coming to Miami Law was the possibility of competing in Spanish with the International Moot Court Program,” explained Lalinde. “It was a challenge that I was excited to undertake, but it tested my endurance and ability to focus, especially having to do everything virtually. I'm thankful to my teammates and my coaches, and I'm especially proud of our growth and everything we learned between June and September. It was this growth that earned us the best third memorial for the respondent in the competition."

Coached by Paula Arias, director of the international moot court program, and by Spanish attorney Seguimundo Navarro, the team learned about a new legal program while enhancing their advocacy skills.

The moot case was an arbitration scenario where two states constituted a trust to administer the financial resources to build a highway between the two countries. The moot case presented legal and factual questions about state participation in private arbitration, sovereign immunity, EPC contracts, distribution of risk in construction contracts, and the Unidroit Principles of Commercial Contracts.

"I could not be prouder of my team and my coaches,” said Diaz-Barandiaran. “We first learned of the competition in late May and began working in early June, giving us less than 4 months to learn International Arbitration from scratch, while submitting two lengthy briefs (in Spanish), and finally competing in Spanish against universities from across Latin America, all virtually. While it was very difficult and stressful work, this has been one of the greatest and most rewarding experiences of my life.”

The team also had the opportunity to participate in two Pre-Moots, which are practice competitions with other teams. The team participated at the Guatemala Pre-Moot organized by Arbitration Alumni against eight teams from central America; at this Pre-Moot Garcia was awarded the best oralist of the competition. Additionally, the team competed at the Ecuador Pre-Moot and competed against ten teams from Ecuador: at this Pre-Moot the team advanced to the semifinals.

“Competing in a moot court competition is always challenging, but with a lot of hard work and dedication, we were able to push out of our comfort zones and compete not only virtually but in Spanish,” said Garcia. “Seeing as my formal education has never been in Spanish, there were a lot more challenges when preparing for oral rounds. However, Professor Arias and Seguimundo Navarro pushed me like never before, and with a lot of hard work, I was able to come out of my shell and become a better advocate, even in a language I was not comfortable competing in.”

“I would like to highlight the remarkable effort of UM to let the students participate in all these moots around the world, allowing the participants to acquire a unique experience,” said coach Navarro. “Beatriz, Estefania and Alessandro have proven their commitment to the competition was beyond all doubt. I am very proud to be part of this team.”

Miami Law’s International Moot Court Program was established ten years ago, and thanks to the pandemic, it recently took up the challenge of providing its students with the tools required to advocate in a virtual environment.

"I had the challenge and opportunity to work with the students during these months, not only to teach them arbitration and international commercial contracts but also to teach them virtual advocacy, which was new not only to the students but also to me as a coach," said Arias.

Read more about Miami Law’s International Moot Court Program