PUBLISHED:February 27, 2024

Duke Law Vis Moot Team wins Ninth London Pre-Moot competition


Lei Zhu JD/LLM ’24 and Braden Fairweather ’24 are standouts as Duke Law readies for The Vis Moot in late March

three people standing side by side and holding papers Lei Zhu JD/LLM ’24, head coach Ryan Mellske JD/LLM '09, and Braden Fairweather ’24

The Duke Law Vis Moot Team won the Ninth London Pre-Moot last weekend, with Duke Law earning the top spot for total team points in the general rounds before winning the semi-final and final rounds. Lei Zhu JD/LLM ’24 won the Best Speaker Award and Braden Fairweather ’24 took first runner-up for Best Speaker, with head coach Ryan Mellske JD/LLM ’09.

“Winning the Best Individual Speaker at the London Pre-Moot was beyond my wildest dreams," Zhu said.

Fairweather added: "Lei did amazing; I was certain she would win Best Speaker. To my surprise, I was also awarded first runner-up."

The London Pre-Moot, a precursor competition to the upcoming Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, known as “The Vis Moot,” was held at the International Dispute Resolution Centre in London from February 24-25. The competition included 30 teams, totaling about 100 students, from among the perennial best vis moot teams in the UK, across Europe, and beyond.

“We pleaded against outstanding teams but ultimately secured the win for Duke," Fairweather said. "I cannot thank coach Mellske enough for the opportunity, our team members for building us up to this point, and the distinguished arbitrators who administered the rounds.”

Mellske said, "The win in London is a huge success for the team and Duke Law. Lei and Brad showed tenacity in preparation, phenomenal progress in their advocacy skills, and poise under pressure!"

Duke argued its case, governed by the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sales of Goods (CISG), before a total of 18 international arbitrators, against teams from Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Austria. Professor Dr. Peter Huber, of Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, a leading authority on the CISG, arbitrated one of Duke’s matches and reacted: “I was most impressed. It was really fantastic!”

Fellow members of the Duke Law Vis Moot are Ashwin Iyer ’25, Flavia Caron LLM ’24, Melissa Perez ’25, and Lucas Mears ’24. Aishwarya Anand LLM ’24 is student coach, with Torin Reich LLM ’24 and Victor Liao ’25 acting as student advisors.

The Vis Moot and associated pre-moot competitions aim to develop students’ knowledge and skills for the practice of private international law, and attract hundreds of law schools worldwide.

Zhu said, "I extend my deepest gratitude to [the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators], [the International Dispute Resolution Centre], and Mr. [Peter Ashford] for organizing such a high-quality competition. My heartfelt thanks also go to my other team members and coach Mellske for their unwavering support, and to Duke Law for providing a program that has afforded me this remarkable opportunity."

Photos - Ninth London Vis Moot competition