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Frank S. Polestino Trial Advocacy Institute

St. John's Law ranks #2 in the Trial Competition Performance Rankings!

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 our notable achievements 2016-2017:

  • Champions – FSU College of Law Mock Trial Competition 
  • Champions – TYLA Regional Competition  
  • Champions – Quinnipiac Trial Advocacy Competition
  • Finalists – Queens District Attorney's Mock Trial Competition
  • Semi-Finalist – ABA National Criminal Justice Trial Competition
  • Semi-Finalist – Buffalo-Niagara Mock Trial Competition  
  • Tiffany Cup – TYLA National Trial Competition
  • Best Advocate – FSU College of Law Mock Trial Competition
  • Best Advocate – Quinnipiac Trial Advocacy Competition
  • Best Opening – TYLA Regionals
  • Best Opening – ABA National Criminal Justice Trial 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. If you are interested in coaching our external competition teams, please contact Jillian Shartrand at

Volunteer Opportunities
We also need coaches, evaluators, and judges for our internal competitions. If you are an alumna/us interested in voluntering, please contact Allison Smalley at

2017-2018 PTAI Executive Board
PTAI’s executive board plans and organizes competitions and other activities throughout the year.

Faculty Advisor
Larry Cunningham

Executive Director
Daniel Quinn

Managing Director
Mark Luccarelli

Externals Director
Jillian Shartrand

Internals Director
Allison Smalley

Special Events
Christine Mavrikis

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.