Judge Paul Joseph Kelly, Jr. Invitational Trial Competition

The Kelly Competition is an invitational mock trial competition hosted by Fordham for teams representing law schools across the country. The teams will compete and be judged based on their advocacy skills.

The Judge Paul Joseph Kelly Jr., Invitational Trial Competition was created with the generous assistance of Patrick W. Kelly to honor his brother, Judge Paul Joseph Kelly, Jr., Fordham University School of Law Class of 1967 and current Circuit Court Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Who is Judge Paul J. Kelly, Jr?

Judge Paul J. Kelly, Jr. grew up in Freeport, New York, receiving his B.B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law. After beginning his career in New York City, Judge Kelly moved to New Mexico, where he practiced commercial litigation for many years with Hinkle, Cox, Eaton, Coffield and Hensley, eventually founding and managing the firm’s Santa Fe office. Between 1977 and 1981, he also served in the New Mexico State House of Representatives. His public service work included serving as an original member of the New Mexico Public Defender Board, which established the State Public Defender System.

In 1992, President George H. W. Bush appointed Judge Kelly to the Tenth Circuit, where he has maintained a full appellate docket in addition to accepting assignments to preside over trials. His community service extends beyond the law. Since 1983, Judge Kelly has served as a firefighter and emergency medical technician with the Hondo Volunteer Fire Department in the rural area outside Santa Fe.

Judge Kelly has been widely recognized for his achievements, receiving the Professionalism Award of the American Inns of Court for the Tenth Circuit, the Fordham University Law School Lifetime Achievement Award, the University of Notre Dame’s Cunningham Lifetime Achievement Award, and the 2005 Firefighter of the Year Award from the Hondo Fire District.

Upcoming Kelly Competition

We are excited to announce that the Kelly Competition will remain a four-prelimary round competition! This year’s competition will include four preliminary rounds for all teams, ensuring that each team competes twice as both prosecution and defense. 

November 10–12, 2023

Registration Fee: $900 per team
Location: Fordham University School of Law 150 W62nd St, New York, NY 10023

Submit your deposit for the 2023 Trial Advocacy Kelly Competition hosted by Fordham Law School. The competition fee for this year is $900. Do not submit a deposit until after you have received an acceptance from Fordham Law school confirming your ability to participate in the 2023 competition. Competitors will be notified of their acceptances by email.

Competition Format

Teams consist of two students who prepare both sides of a federal criminal problem. Each team will advocate both sides of the case twice. The advocate who delivers the opening statement for the prosecution will deliver the closing argument for the defense, and the advocate who delivers the closing argument for the prosecution will deliver the opening argument for the defense. Fordham University will provide all witnesses, and each team will have 15 minutes to prepare their side’s witnesses prior to each round. Four teams will advance to a semi-final round on Sunday morning, and two teams will advance to the final round on Sunday afternoon.