Chicago-Kent College of Law wins Chicago Regional Championship of 2018 AAJ Student Trial Advocacy Competition

The Chicago-Kent College of Law trial advocacy team of Kristen Farr Capizzi ’18, Alexis Halsell ’18, Shahina Khan ’18 and Jesse Pollans ’18 won the Chicago regional championship of the 2018 American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition. The students will compete against the top teams from 13 other regions Thursday, April 12 through Monday, April 15 in Raleigh, North Carolina.


From left: Jesse Pollans, Alexis Halsell, Shahina Khan, and Kristen Farr Capizzi

This year, students argued a civil lawsuit filed by a car crash victim against a doctor for not reporting to the Department of Transportation that his patient, who lost control of his car after suffering a seizure, was unable to safely operate a motor vehicle.

During the competition, the four-member team was split into a two-member plaintiff’s team and a two-member defense team. The plaintiff’s team of Halsell and Khan faced teams from DePaul University College of Law in the preliminary round and Northern Illinois University College of Law in the semifinals, winning both trials and sweeping the ballots, before defeating a team from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in a closely contested championship trial. The defense team of Pollans and Farr Capizzi went up against teams from Notre Dame Law School and John Marshall Law School, winning both trials and sweeping the ballots. The team won every single ballot throughout the regional tournament.

Farr Capizzi—a member of the Chicago-Kent team that won the 2017 AAJ Student Trial Advocacy Competition’s Chicago regional tournament—graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a B.S. degree in finance. Halsell completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Oakland University in Michigan. Khan majored in criminology, law, and justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Pollans earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and Spanish at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Last fall, Capizzi, Halsell, Khan and Pollans placed second in the 2017 National Civil Trial Competition.

Trial advocacy alumni Nicholas Economakos ’12, Matthew McCarter ’15, and Heather Widell ’12 coached the winning team.

A second Chicago-Kent team featuring Ashur Youash, Dawn Peacock, Carolina Solano and Dina Lupancu, and coached by alumni John Montelongo ’92 and Natalie Adeeyo ’16, had an excellent run at the Chicago regional but did not advance.

The American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) is a broad-based, international coalition of attorneys, law professors, paralegals and law students.

Chicago-Kent’s trial advocacy teams have won numerous individual student honors and regional and national competitions. In the most recent U.S. News & World Report graduate school rankings, Chicago-Kent’s Trial Advocacy Program is ranked fourth in the country.