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Frank S. Polestino Trial Advocacy Institute

About PTAI
The Frank S. Polestino Trial Advocacy Institute (PTAI) is the Law School’s trial advocacy/mock trial program. Since our start in 2001, we’ve offered St. John’s Law students a singular range of opportunities—from trial training programs to internal and external trial competitions—to build their courtroom advocacy skills and to learn to think, act, and speak like trial attorneys. 

Named in honor of Professor Frank S. Polestino, who taught trial skills to hundreds of students at St. John’s during his long tenure here, PTAI is committed to showcasing our students' extraordinary talents and interests in trial work.

Our Trial Competitions
Throughout the academic year, we participate in national and regional competitions around the country. Our competition teams have excelled in the last several years. Here are just some of their notable achievements:

  • Champions -- Buffalo-Niagara competition,
  • Semi-finalists -- ABA National Criminal Justice Mock Trial Competition
  • Semi-finalists -- TYLA National Competition Regional 
  • Best Advocate -- Buffalo-Niagara competition
  • Best Advocate -- Georgetown White Collar Crime Mock Trial Competition
  • Best Direct -- Quinnipiac Criminal Justice Trial Advocacy Competition
  • Best Direct -- TYLA National Competition Regional
  • Best Cross -- Judge Paul Joseph Kelly, Jr. Invitational Trial Advocacy Competition

PTAI’s annual internal competitions include the:

  • Charles M. Sparacio Criminal Internal Trial Competition
  • Peter James Johnson National Civil Rights Trial Competition.
  • Edward Hart Civil Internal Trial Competition
  • McKenna Forum
  • Advocate in the Spotlight Forum
  • Brian Peterson Memorial First-Year Trial Competition 

Our Coaches
An integral part of PTAI’s success is our coaching roster of St. John’s Law alumni and others who generously volunteer their time. They bring their skills and insights as experienced trial attorneys to teach PTAI students how to effectively try a case—from introducing evidence and formulating a case theory to cross-examining key witnesses. 

2016-2017 PTAI Executive Board
PTAI’s executive board plans and organizes competitions and other activities throughout the year.

Faculty Advisor
Andrew J. Simons

Executive Director
Christine Chu

Managing Director
Matt LaSorsa

Externals Director
Joanna Matuza

Internals Director
Mike Napolitano

Special Events
Kristy Stanislawczyk

Contact Us
PTAI graduates have gone on to rewarding careers as assistant district attorneys, as public defenders, as private criminal defense lawyers, and as litigators. To learn more about participating in, and supporting, the Frank S. Polestino Trial Advocacy Institute at St. John's Law, please contact us.