The Center for Advocacy & Dispute Resolution

National Criminal Justice Trial Advocacy Competition

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: August 1–November 1, 2019
Accepted Teams Announced: November 8, 2019
Registration Fee ($650) Due: December 13, 2019
Competition Materials Available: January 24, 2020
Question & Answer Period Ends: March 5, 2020 | 5 p.m. CST
Final Question & Answers Posted: March 12, 2020 | Midnight CST
Coaches Conference Call: March 19, 2020 | Midnight CST
Competition Dates: March 26–28, 2020


The competition committee will send registration details to teams accepted to compete in the competition. The registration fee is $650.

General Rules

Four JD 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 both advocate and witness 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, those student advocates play the role of witnesses. The Federal Rules of Evidence apply.

The competition consists of three preliminary rounds from which four competing teams advance to the semifinals. The two semifinal winners advance to the championship round.


Contact Us

Kelly Navarro
Associate Director, Center for Advocacy & Dispute Resolution
Phone: 312.427.2737 ext. 146

View 2019 Competition Photos