Thirteen students from Harvard Law School recently won honors at the 2009 Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Competitions in Vienna and Hong Kong. Nearly 300 law school teams from around the world participated in the Vis Competitions, with 233 teams competing in Vienna and 46 in Hong Kong.

At the Vienna competition, the HLS team received an honorable mention for their claimant’s brief, which was written by Erika Bekeny ’09, Matthew du Mée ’10,  Elizabeth Lindesay LL.M. ’09, Johanna Schwartz ’10, Lindsay See ’11 and Jorge Mattamouros ’09.  Two of those students, Lindesay and du Mée, also won honorable mentions for their performance as oralists.

“The team put in a lot of hard work and preparation,” said du Mée, “and it was rewarding to see it recognized by international arbitrators that are at the top of their field.” Students began preparing for the competition in October, and participated in intra-team practices as well as pre-moot competitions with other law schools.

In Hong Kong, the HLS team received the Fali Nariman Award for Best Respondent Brief, written by Matthew Sullivan ’09, Sarah Beckerman ’10, Justin Kliger ’11, Jonathan Passaro ’10 and Diora Ziyaeva LL.M. ’09 [See photo left]. [L-R] Ziyaeva, Passaro, Sullivan and Beckerman]. The team’s win marked HLS’s first Best Brief award in the six-year-old Vis East competition. Beckerman and Passaro also received honorable mentions as oralists.

Sullivan, HLS’s chief student coordinator, who ran the team’s meetings from October through April, said, “I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to represent HLS in Hong Kong as part of the first Vis East team this year.”

HLS Lecturer on Law Virginia Wise served as the team’s faculty advisor and Evgeniya Rubinina LL.M. ’09 assisted. The team was also coached by New York-based attorneys David Bigge ’01 of Dechert and Tamieka Spencer-Bruce LL.M. ’07 of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy.

Passaro praised Wise, Rubinina, and the team’s coaches, and said having the chance to work with and learn from the LL.M. students on the team was one of the most rewarding aspects of the competition. “There are few organizations at HLS that so seamlessly blend the LL.M. and J.D. experience,” he said.

Wise said the competition was “an outstanding educational experience for all the participants,” adding that learning from other students was a key benefit of the competition. “Our students were able to start developing invaluable networks as well as improving their writing, research and advocacy skills,” she said.