The Center for Advocacy & Dispute Resolution

National Criminal Justice Trial Advocacy Competition | Thursday, March 19 - Saturday, March 21, 2015

The National Criminal Justice Trial Competition, held in Chicago, Illinois, is co-sponsored by the Criminal Justice Section of the American Bar Association and The John Marshall Law School.

Upcoming Relevant Competition Dates

Competition Application Period
Invited Applicants: Until Wednesday, July 1, 2014
General Applications: Thursday, July 2, 2014 - Wednesday, September 30, 2014
Competition Materials Available: Thursday, January 29, 2015
Competition Dates: Thursday, March 19 - Saturday, March 21, 2015

General Rules

Four students constitute a team — in each round, two students act as advocates and two as witnesses. This means, two students will be defense and two students will be prosecution. All students must perform these roles; “swing” students are not allowed. During the trials, each student advocate must conduct a direct examination of a witness, a cross examination of a witness, and present either the opening statement or the closing argument. In the following round student advocates play the role of witnesses. The Federal Rules of Evidence apply.

The competition consists of two preliminary rounds followed by a quarterfinal round in which eight teams compete, then a semifinal round with four teams competing. The two winning semifinal round teams compete in the championship round. During the preliminary rounds, each team prosecutes and defends the case.


As part of the trial problem, students are provided digital photographs and/or video/audio evidence, to be used to enhance the strength of the arguments presented. All courtrooms have a projector and a screen available for the use of competitors. Teams are scored on their effective use of technology.


Contact Us

Susann MacLachlan
Center Director
Phone: 312.427.2737 ext. 577

Gary Watson
Assistant Director
Phone: 312.427.2737 ext. 473