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Barely ten years into its existence, the Frankfurt Investment Arbitration Moot has becomes one of the most popular competitions in the mooting circuit. In this interview with FIAM’s Greg Lourie, Shreya Vajpei learns about what goes into organising the competition, the changing face of moot courts, and more.
Shreya Vajpei: What’s the structure of the organising committee for the FIAM? What is each member’s responsibility and how do you induct members in the committee?
Greg Lourie: We have a two-fold structure. The moot court itself was developed by Dr. Sabine Konrad, a Partner at the Frankfurt office of McDermott Will & Emery. She came up with the idea of the Moot Court along with Prof. Dr. Rainer Hofmann from the Public Law, European Law, and Public International Law at Frankfurt.
Approximately ten years ago, they met at a conference and decided to develop a Moot Court competition specifically focused on international investment law and investment arbitration.
The two handle different tasks – Sabine Konrad is responsible for the case study, so she is the one who designs the case study, provides clarifications etc. She is also responsible for getting the arbitrators, including those in final panel.
Prof Hofmann and his Chair is responsible for the organization of the Moot. I work as a teaching assistant at Prof. Hofmann’s chair. At the Chair, I am responsible for organising the event, communicating with the teams, booking the rooms, ensuring the arbitrators are well accommodated, and to make sure everything is in order during the week of the Moot.
However, the entire Chair is involved in the organization of the Moot and I am particularly supported by my colleagues Philipp Dotath and Jakob Kadelbach.
SV: What are the benefits of organising a pre-moot?
GL: Well, I think there are two-points to this, especially in our case because we do not have the same capacity as the Vis Moot Court to invite all teams that apply.
We need to have regional rounds to meet the limit of only six teams per country. So, in our case, a regional round functions as a means to safeguard the diversity of the moot and give teams from all countries an equal chance to participate in the finals in Frankfurt.
On the other hand, I think it’s a great opportunity for teams to move on to the next level, in a sense that once you’ve made it to the first round, you invest all the resources and then move on to the international stage. That is a really important part of the moot court experience. Even if you look at other moot courts, such as the Vis Moot, much of the spirit of the moot court is created through the international atmosphere. In international arbitration you definitely encounter people from all over the world and it helps your career if you choose to do arbitration.
SV: What are the benefits a student derives from a moot court competition?
GL: One of the benefits is the training of one’s advocacy skills. This is especially true for teams who do not have English as their primary language. It’s also definitely a huge benefit for the language skills; I’ve coached several teams for the FIAC and the Vis Moot and I realised that pretty much everyone who participated there, hugely benefited in terms of their English skills.
Teamwork also forms an important part of it. German studies for example usually don’t pay much emphasis on the concept of team-work. You mostly write your exams yourself, the essays yourself, the final exam yourself. If you don’t really look for it, there is actually no obligatory team-work exercise. On the other hand, to start working in a law firm or anywhere else, team-work is essential in functioning.
Lastly, I think international moot courts give teams the opportunity to develop a network which you otherwise only start to develop once you’re a lawyer.
SV: Do you think moot courts have been excessively competitive in the recent years?
GL: To be honest, yes. I can give you an example for this. I participated in the FIAM and the Vis Moot Court years ago. And I do not want to judge about other countries, but in Germany, moot courts were for people who were a little bit fed up with the typical structure of German studies. Moots were for people who wanted to see something new, something different; to go abroad, and meet new people. Back then, it wasn’t done to improve one’s CV; it was done for your personal development.
My impression is that in the recent years, it has become exactly the other way around. People participate in a moot court because somebody told them, “Well this is something really important for your CV. If you don’t do it , and you want to go into arbitration, you will have a tough time.”
If somebody wants to do a Moot Court for their CV only that is fine too. But the entire atmosphere of international friendship which is, for me, essential to a moot court, gets a little bit lost in that case.