For the first time, US News and World Report has ranked the UMKC School of Law Trial Advocacy Program as number 21 in the nation. The advocacy program has continued to flourish under Douglas R. Stripp Professor, Rafe Foreman, and Professor Michaelle Tobin. UMKC teams have continually advanced in competitions, and just this spring, three teams advanced to national trial competitions. The program receives support from the UMKC Law Foundation, firms, and alumni, and the law school was also awarded  $1.4 million from the Kemper Family Foundations to expand the program even further.

The 2018 US News and World Report rankings include UMKC School of Law as one of the top trial advocacy programs in the nation.

  • UMKC is tied for 21st with Stanford University, University of Georgia, University of Houston and Campbell University (North Carolina)
  • Stetson University (Florida) was ranked #1 in the nation
  • Average tuition of the schools in the top 21 is $43,774, more than twice the $18,647 tuition at UMKC. Highest tuition was $61,622 (New York University) and the lowest was UMKC. The only other school in Kansas and Missouri ranked in top trial advocacy schools was Washington University ($53,506).

Although UMKC Law has a long history of excelling in mock trial competitions, this spring, three teams advanced.  In the American Association of Justice (AAJ) competition in Cleveland, OH, the team of Taylor Haas, Mollie Harmon, Nick Schmiemeier and Alison Stephens won the Denver AAJ Regional  and finished in the top four teams in the nation.

For the third time in the last five years, a UMKC Law team advanced to the prestigious National Trial Competition (NTC) in Fort Worth, TX and finished in the top eight teams out of 28 teams entered. Team members Blake Smith, Jackson Hobbs and Andrew Hendrick were winners of the St. Louis NTC Regional. There were 300 teams entered into the regional competition across the nation. 

In the National Criminal Justice Trial Competition in Chicago, IL, the team of Keegan Tinney, Ryan Krupp, Dillon Cook and Amy Jackson advanced to the final four round of this competition.

Additionally, UMKC Law received its first invitation to the exclusive Top Gun National Tournament in June 2017. Only 16 of the top schools in the nation receive an invitation to this competition.

The advocacy program’s strength comes from the leadership of Professor Rafe Foreman, Douglas R. Stripp Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of Advocacy, and Professor Michaelle Tobin. Approximately 25 students are on one of the school’s national teams that compete in 10 to 12 competitions during the year. Each student devotes about 20 hours per week working with Professors Foreman and Tobin in preparation for competitions. Foreman and Tobin were successful trial lawyers before joining UMKC. Foreman was a plantiff’s attorney and Tobin was a criminal defense attorney. Additional classroom instruction preparing students is provided by UMKC Law adjunct professors.

The Kemper Family Foundations has also helped to enhance and expand the trial advocacy program, beginning with the establishment of the Douglas R. Stripp Distinguished Professorship by Crosby and Bebe (Stripp) Kemper in 1992. In 2016, the Kemper family made a commitment of $1.4 million that includes $900,000 to convert the Stripp Professorship to “Chair” status in recognition of the achievements of the trial advocacy program. The grant also includes $500,000 to establish the Douglas Stripp Fellows program. In addition, the commitment from the UMKC Law Foundation to provide additional financial support, generous gifts from alumni, and support from several law firms (which allots for scholarships for team members) has greatly helped our program. 

As an integral part of the advocacy program, Foreman and Tobin established the UMKC Law Show Me Challenge, which involves 16 teams from across the nation displaying skills of jury selection. While one of the most important parts of a trial is the selection of jury members, those skills are usually not thoroughly taught at law schools but rather learned on-the-job after graduation. The unique competitions boasts more than 300 students, alumni, and community members who serve as jurors and judges. This year, the Saint Louis University School of Law won the competition, and our own University of Missouri-School of Law received the award for Most Professional. One UMKC Law student received the Best Overall Advocate award. You can view the other winners here.

The UMKC School of Law trial advocacy program has and will continue to grow due to generous gifts, Foreman and Tobin leading the way, and talented students engaging in the program. UMKC School of Law truly showcases advocacy in action, which brings it to the 21st spot on the US News and World Report list.

*Pictured: the 2016 trial advocacy program members. Photo: Ayyoub Ajmi