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Students Place Among Top 16 at Prestigious International Moot Competition

Mason Law students and Alternative Dispute Resolution Society (ADR) members Tyler Stubbs (3L), Eric Liberman (3L), and Matt Brown (2L) have returned from the Willem C. Vis International Arbitration Moot held annually in Vienna, Austria. The team made it to the top 16 out of 281 teams (representing universities from nearly 70 different countries), ultimately losing in the Round of 16 to a strong team from Harvard Law School, an eventual semi-finalist. Teams argued before diverse tribunals made up of 650 lawyers and professors from around the world.

After defeating ILS Law School, from India, in the Round of 64, the Mason team squared off against Georgetown in the Round of 32. On the strength of brilliant arguments from Tyler Stubbs and Eric Liberman, the team advanced to the Round of 16, becoming one of only three American schools to advance to the "Sweet 16" from among the 52 schools that participated. Stubbs' arguments from the general rounds earned him an Honorable Mention for Best Individual Oralist.

This represents the first time that Mason Law has sent students to compete in the prestigious "Vis Moot," which was held March 29–April 5 for the 19th time in Vienna, Austria. 

"It is unprecedented for a first-time team to go this far," said Adjunct Professor Jack Tieder, who added that Harvard competes nearly every year and typically sends a team of 8-10 and an almost equal number of faculty advisors. Tieder, along with Shelly Ewald and Kathy Barnes (all attorneys at Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald, LLP), taught the Vis course and coached the team. Ewald traveled with the team to Vienna for the event.  

Considered to be the world’s premier international commercial law moot court, the Vis Moot  involves an arbitration of a contract of sale between two parties in countries that are parties to the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods. This moot provides experience in commercial litigation and arbitration skills and provides an opportunity for students to develop commercial law expertise through application to a concrete problem of a client. The research for this moot begins in the fall semester and continues through the spring, at which time two competition memoranda are due. A separate sister competition is held annually in Hong Kong.

"The Vis Moot was the most unique and worthwhile experience of my law school career." Stubbs commented. "The practical training was incredible given the complexity of the problem and the high level of competition. It was tough, but totally worth it. The Vis Moot in Vienna, Austria, was more of an experience than just an event. The number of people and diversity among the 281 teams was staggering. But because we had all struggled with the same problems since October, everyone made lasting friendships instantly. It was also great to see that the 600+ professors and practitioners who served as arbitrators were approachable and excited to attend the events. The fact that partners, practitioners, arbitrators, and professors were willing to go out of their way to meet students speaks volumes to the value of the competition."

While the ADR Society was able to send only three members overseas for the competition, students Ashley Dew, Kay Teng, Lauren Mee, Kate Telis, William Wiegand, and Lin Yang also participated as team members in the drafting of the two briefs for the event.