Boston University School of Law

March 26, 2010

BU Law's Dustin Guzior and Rodrigo Valle victorious at Oxford International IP Moot

moot court winners
Rodrigo Valle and Dustin Guzior

BU Law students Dustin Guzior and Rodrigo Valle, both J.D. ('10), took on fellow law students from around the world and upset past victors University Tech of Queensland to win the 8th Annual Oxford International IP Moot. The competition was hosted by the Oxford Intellectual Property Research Centre March 19 and 20, 2010, and took place at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford.

Guzior and Valle were accompanied by coach Professor Robert Volk to compete against 20 schools, including Oxford, Cambridge, the London School of Economics, University College London, University of Southampton, University of Edinburgh, National University of Singapore, Lyon, and Hong Kong University. Of 27 entrants to the competition, only 20 schools were selected to compete -- the teams had to brief both sides of the case, and a committee scored those papers. BU Law was the only school from the United States invited to attend. It was the first time BU Law competed at the International IP Moot.

The topic of the competition was international copyright law (view case here). “The problem involved a number of challenging copyright issues as applied to so-called ‘performance art,’" said Professor Volk, the director of the First Year Writing Program and associate professor of Legal Writing who administers the School’s moot court programs.

Besides learning International Copyright Law, the team learned about appellate advocacy in the UK and what it's like to be a barrister. “We didn't have wigs, but we had ‘bundles’ -- in the UK, judges don't have law clerks, and so they rely on advocates to present ‘bundles’ of cases,” said Guzior. “We didn't know much about this practice until we got to the competition, and I'm really proud of how quickly we adapted to it. By the final round we were citing and using the bundles with ease.”

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Added Valle, “The competition was particularly challenging because we were allowed and encouraged to use authorities from multiple international jurisdictions to support our arguments. To that end, we really gained exposure to and experience dealing with statutes, cases, and public policy arguments from around the globe.”

Professor Volk expressed pride at his team’s adaptive skills. “Despite severe jet lag, our team was one of eight that advanced to the quarter-finals, where we faced University College of London. After defeating that team, we argued against the University of Edinburgh in the semifinals.” The team then advanced to the final round.

Guzior described the final round as “great fun.”

”We were judged by Lord Justice Mummery, Justice Flloyd, and Michael Hicks, a famous IP barrister. Our win was largely due to the clarity of our presentation. The judges were intellectually curious, and I think we were better able to engage with their questions. But it was a tough round – Queensland Tech really wanted to continue its two-year winning streak, and the caliber of the competition was very high.”

Valle said that his team’s advantage was their ability to learn as they went. “From our first argument until the finals, we were constantly revising our arguments and incorporating new authorities to bolster our position. Additionally, we worked well as a team-- we both knew each other's arguments well enough to ensure that we were consistently and persuasively advocating for our position.”

He called the final round “exhilarating.”

oxford moot court winners and judges
Guzior, Valle and Moot Court Judges

“Arguing before the incredibly well-respected judges and in front of a large crowd added to the excitement, but I think we rose to the occasion and had our best argument yet,” said Valle.

Volk was impressed by his team’s performance. “In all my years of observing moot court competitions and coaching teams, I have never been involved in a competition with such high-caliber, knowledgeable judges. Our team members were able to meet the challenge head on, referring to cases from the U.S., Canada, the UK and France in their arguments. Not tied to the law of any one nation, I was extremely impressed by our students’ ability to take a global approach to the difficult legal issues involved. I received a number of compliments from judges, who stated that our students were very well-prepared, knowledgeable and great presenters.”

The team's prize was a trophy and 250 pounds each to spend on law books from Oxford University Press.

The team thanked BU Law IP Professor Stacey Dogan for helping them prepare for oral arguments.

Upon graduation, Valle will be completing a one-year fellowship with the New York Attorney General's Office before starting at Ropes & Gray LLP's New York Office; Guzior will join Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in New York City.

Reported by Sandi Miller & Jen Taylor

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