Outstanding Trial Advocacy Program Continues Strong Tradition at Chicago’s John Marshall Law School

Share Article

At The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, the outstanding Trial Advocacy Program is being strengthened with additional courses in the latest courtroom technologies, personalized interactions with the city’s top lawyers and judges, and externships that offer students hands-on experience.

The Trial Advocacy Program at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago continues its strong tradition of preparing students through a specialized curriculum, personalized trial skills training and externships.

“Our trial advocacy program has long been recognized as a national leader,” Dean John E. Corkey said. “We have maintained this high quality program by including the most current technology in the classrooms so the students can learn the skills they need.”

Three technologically enhanced courtroom/classrooms provide real life backdrops for extensive skills-training courses covering both trial advocacy, a required course at John Marshall, and conflict resolution. Through these fully-equipped courtrooms, students learn to present evidence using the most progressive techniques and technological tools in the most persuasive and compelling manner.

“Before these improvements were made at John Marshall, our staff investigated technology in today’s state-of-the-art federal courtrooms,” Corkery said. “Our facilities allow the students the opportunities to practice fundamental and advanced trial skills under the direction of a premiere quality adjunct faculty.”

Federal and state court judges, federal and state court prosecutors, experienced defense attorneys and civil litigators are an integral component of The John Marshall Law School’s trial-skills training programs.

“Our students are instructed by many of the most highly-qualified attorneys and judges in the Chicago area,” noted Professor Susann MacLachlan, director of the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution, “allowing them the experience necessary to graduate as courtroom-ready attorneys.”

In addition, numerous advanced courses are available to the students that enable them to perfect their techniques and continue their practice of litigation while still in school.

“In all, John Marshall provides eight trial skills-based courses, supplemented by numerous LLM offerings in areas of advanced evidence, jury selection, trial strategy and expert witnesses, to highlight only a few,” MacLachlan explained. “The curriculum includes opportunities for motivated students to earn certificates in both trial advocacy and alternative dispute resolution. There is also an LLM program in Trial Advocacy and Dispute Resolution that is one of only a handful of such exciting programs in the country.”

The John Marshall Law School is routinely invited to participate in trial, negotiation, arbitration client counseling and mediation competitions. Training is extremely rigorous and selection for these coveted team positions is highly competitive. The qualifying members of these teams hold prestigious positions on The John Marshall Law School’s Trial Advocacy and Dispute Resolution Honors Board and Council.

“These students represent our law school at numerous competitions around the country and many return following graduation to continue their contribution to our trial advocacy program by volunteering as coaches for new team members,” MacLachlan said.    

Opportunities to further develop these newly-learned skills are similarly available for John Marshall students through the expansive externship program. Qualifying students who receive the state student-practice license, under Supreme Court Rule 7.11, earn school credit by working in actual courtrooms around the city and state for governmental agencies and not-for-profits under the supervision of practicing attorneys.

“These students are frequently allowed to present opening statements, give closing arguments or conduct direct and cross examinations,” MacLachlan explained, “all while earning school credit, networking with attorneys and judges, and jump-starting their legal careers.

Each spring, with the Criminal Justice Section of the American Bar Association, John Marshall proudly hosts the annual Criminal Justice Trial Competition. The competition, now in its 24th year, brings 20 outstanding law school teams from across the country to Chicago to compete for the championship trophy.

Technology is included in the trial problem, with demonstrations by John Marshall Adjunct Professor Mark Shlifka, a Cook County assistant state’s attorney.    

About The John Marshall Law School

The John Marshall Law School, founded in 1899, is an independent law school located in the heart of Chicago’s legal, financial and commercial districts. Through classes, clinics and special programs, students develop the strategic, analytical and transactional lawyering skills that are so valuable to employers. Its excellent curriculum, coupled with outstanding skills and experiential learning, help make John Marshall graduates practice-ready from day one. For practicing attorneys, John Marshall offers nine LLM degrees, more than any other law school in the Midwest. John Marshall is also a leader in providing distance education options in intellectual property, estate planning and employee benefits at the advanced graduate degree level. John Marshall offers six clinical experiences, including the nationally recognized Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic and the Fair Housing Legal Clinic. U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Graduate Schools 2014 edition ranks John Marshall’s Lawyering Skills Program second and its Intellectual Property Law program 12th in the nation.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Marilyn Thomas
The John Marshall Law School
312-427-2737 661
Email >
Visit website