From left are School of Law third-year student Joseph Matthews, coach Andrew Riccio, second-year student Benjamin Keime, and third-year student Abirami Ananthasingam.
Special to UM News
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 19, 2014)— For the second time, the University of Miami School of Law’s moot court team won the Frankfurt Investment Arbitration Moot Court, which ended in a tie. UM Law’s team, second-year student Benjamin Keime and third-year students Abirami Ananthasingam and Joseph Matthews, shares the top prize—including scholarships to The Hague Academy of International Law—with the distinguished Sciences Po Law School in Paris.
The competition, considered one of the most prestigious international student competitions with a focus on investment protection, was hosted by Goethe-University Frankfurt in Germany.
Throughout the week of March 10-14, the UM School of Law team competed against 41 law school teams from countries around the world, including Bulgaria, China, France, Germany, Greece, India, and the United Kingdom.
“The highlight of the competition was arguing in front of some of the most prestigious practitioners in the field of international law and competing against some of the most elite schools in the world,” said Ananthasingam, vice president of UM’s International Moot Court and president of the International Law Society. “As the rounds became more and more difficult, the more the depth of Miami Law’s knowledge and advocacy skills shone through.”
The Frankfurt Moot Court serves as a platform for students who want to compete on an international level and have a passion for investment protection. Teams present their arguments orally before tribunals of arbitration composed of investment treaty specialists.
“I have worked with Abirami and Joseph for two years already,” said Paula Arias, director of the International Moot Court Program. “They competed last year on a different moot, and we won best oralist and best memorial. The students wanted to compete again because they enjoyed it so much. This year, I decided to give them the opportunity, and I selected them, along with Benjamin, to compete in Frankfurt. I knew they would work hard and do everything necessary to succeed in Germany. And I was not wrong.”
Investment protection has increasingly become a hot topic in the international community and has been recognized as one of the more intellectually challenging branches of international law.
“The Frankfurt Moot is an amazing opportunity, as it attracts such a diverse pool of international schools,” said Matthews, who is president of UM’s International Moot Court.
“The fact that it is free to participate in allows an intense depth of global perspective, which creates a truly remarkable atmosphere,” he continued. “Our quarterfinals against Gujarat University India was intense; they ultimately won best Asian regional team and really tested our ability to adjust our arguments to their unique style and answers. Our semifinals against Norman Manley Jamaica was also a nail-biter. Not only were they our biggest threat going into this competition, but our round against them was a rematch from 2011, when Miami also went head-to-head against Jamaica in the semifinals. The Jamaicans proved to be formidable adversaries, as they won best team for a Non-OECD country and also best team from the Caribbean region. But ultimately Miami mustered through with a win and moved onto the finals.”
The team was coached by L Andrew S. Riccio, J.D. ’11, an associate with Assouline & Berlowe, where he practices international arbitration and litigation. He was a member of the UM team that competed and won in Frankfurt in 2011, the last time UM Law clinched the competition.
“It was an honor and a pleasure for me to return to Frankfurt,” Riccio said. “Coaching this talented team was a fantastic experience, and I am, of course, so thrilled with the outcome.”
Arias said that Riccio started working with the team over the summer. “It was the first time Andrew was leading the team as coach, which makes me extremely happy because I can see how much the students can learn from former students,” Arias said. “I have only words of appreciation for all the dedication Andrew put into this year’s team.”
Arbitrators Charles Brower of 20 Essex Street, Abby Cohen-Smutney of White & Case, and Judge Awn Al-Khasaweh of the International Court of Justice judged the UM School of Law team.
“We were shocked when Science Po France beat George Washington University in their own semifinal match,” Matthews said. “Miami and George Washington both tied in the Washington, D.C. pre-moot, and we as a team were really impressed by how well-versed GW was in the case.”
Each member of UM’s moot team receives a three-week placement at The Hague Academy of International Law.
“The International Moot Court Program prepares our students to be great lawyers and gives UM recognition as a great school in international law,” Arias said.