A. Barry Cappello Program in Trial Advocacy

The UCLA School of Law and Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law co-host the Trial by Combat, the 1-on-1 collegiate mock trial national championship. This tournament aims to celebrate the best individual college competitors in the country—and identify the very best.

The third annual Trial by Combat will be  held June 26-28, 2020 in Los Angeles, at the UCLA School of Law. The 2021 event will be in Philadelphia. We are proud to partner with Drexel, home to one of the most successful trial advocacy law school programs in the nation.

Competition Format

  • Competitors receive the case on the morning of the first day of the tournament and have approximately 24 hours to prepare.
  • Each trial has two attorneys (P attorney v. D attorney) and two witnesses (P witness v. D witness).
  • During the four preliminary trials, each competitor performs each of those four roles exactly once, though significantly greater weight is placed on attorney performance. The top four students compete as attorneys in the Semifinals, and the winners compete as attorneys in the Championship Trial.
  • The field is limited to 16 competitors nationwide.
  • During the tournament, competitors may receive help/coaching from one person—a coach, a teammate, an alum, whomever they wish.

2020 Tournament

All college competitors are welcome to apply, including those graduating in 2020. If you are eligible for AMTA competition, you are eligible for Trial by Combat. There is no registration fee.


Email tournament director Justin Bernstein with questions.

As students are confirmed, we will add their names here:

  1. Matthew Besman, The Ohio State University
  2. Regina Campbell, University of Chicago
  3. Sydney Gaskins, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  4. Daniel Peale, University of Virginia

Past Competitions

Trial by Combat began in 2018.  The tournament has drawn elite competitors from the most successful mock trial programs in the country.  As just one measure, Trial by Combat competitors have averaged more than one All-American Award.  

In 2018, Nick Ramos (NYU) won the final trial against Rachel Sommers (Columbia).  Watch the final round.  The 16 competitors were Deisy Abarca-Espiritu, University of Rochester; Elizabeth Bays, Yale University; Christopher Grant, Northwood University; Kaitlyn Harper, Northern Illinois University; Stephen Johnson, University of Cincinnati; Mike Kleynman, Rutgers University; Danielle Kunkel, Miami University; Dylan McAuley, University of Richmond; Nick Ramos, New York University; Eric Roytman, The Ohio State University; Jack Seigenthaler, Stanford University; Rachel Sommers, Columbia University; Zeke Starr, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Sarah Stebbins, Georgia Institute of Technology; Enrico Trevisani, University of Arizona; and Deniz Tunceli, University of Virginia.

In 2019, Stephen Johnson (University of Cincinnati) won the final trial against Jonathan Kuang (UCLA).  Watch the final round. Natalie Garson (Boston University) and Sabrina Grandhi (University of Virginia) were the semifinalists.  The 16 competitors were Mary-Preston Austin, Wheaton College; Elizabeth Bays, Yale University: Regina Campbell, University of Chicago; Daniel Elliott, Rhodes College; Natalie Garson, Boston University; Sydney Gaskins, University of Maryland - Baltimore County; Sabrina Grandhi, University of Virginia; Christopher Grant, Northwood University; Claudine Isaac, New York University; Stephen Johnson, University of Cincinnati; Mike Kleynman, Rutgers University; Jonathan Kuang, University of California, Los Angeles; Jack Seigenthaler, Stanford University: Sarah Stebbins, Georgia Institute of Technology; Steven Torres, Cornell University; and Kyle Westerfer, La Salle University. 

More Information

Contact Information

Justin Bernstein 70x80Justin Bernstein
Director of A. Barry Cappello Program in Trial Advocacy
Lecturer in Law