Among the important things Anjali Bhat ’11 learned from the alumni judges as she advanced through this year’s Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court Competition was to make client-centered arguments—both in briefs and during oral argument. As one of four finalists in the competition, she will apply that advice, and everything else she has learned over the past year, when she presents her case for the petitioner at final arguments on April 7.
Bhat, a native New Yorker, earned her B.A. from Swarthmore College in 2007, and like other finalists this year, she is a veteran of moot court competitions. Bhat was a member of Columbia Law School’s team that competed at the 2010 Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court in Vienna, Austria. The Vis Moot Court is designed to train students in the use of international commercial law and arbitration procedures for the resolution of international business disputes. In the context of specified arbitration rules, students are asked to determine questions of contract ensuing from a transaction related to the sale or purchase of goods under the U.N. Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods and other uniform international commercial law.
While participating in the international moot court presented a steep learning curve, Bhat enjoyed the challenge, researching and learning as she prepared for the competition. “It is a very different experience from the Stone Moot Court,” says Bhat, whose team took high honors, finishing in the top 32 out of more than 250 teams from around the world. “The teams and the judges [expert arbitrators] come from both common and civil law countries. In forming your arguments, you can’t rely on assumptions from American law, and you also need to adapt to cultural differences.”
Throughout the preliminary rounds of the Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court Competition, Bhat presented her case before seasoned American attorneys. In the final rounds, she’ll argue before distinguished members of the U.S. judiciary. “One of the greatest benefits of participating in these moot courts,” she says, “is learning how best to communicate with people.”