UCLA Makes a Splash at Top Gun Trial Competition

20190613 Top Gun National Trial Competition
Kyle DeCamp '19 leads the way for the UCLA Law trial team at the Top Gun competition at Baylor Law School.

UCLA School of Law's trial team reached the semifinals at the Top Gun National Trial Competition, one of the most prestigious and challenging trial events in the country, in Waco, Texas on June 5-9.

UCLA won all four preliminary trials against some of the best trial programs in the country: Loyola Law School, McGeorge School of Law, Temple University Beasley School of Law and the eventual champion, Campbell University Wiggins School of Law.

Hosted by Baylor Law School, Top Gun uses a different format than every other trial competition. Instead of receiving the case problem months in advance, the teams get the case just 24 hours before the first round. All trials are one-on-one: a single student performs the opening statement, witness examinations and closing argument for each side. The advocate is allowed assistance from only one teammate --who helps with witness preparation and courtroom technology -- and one coach.

Kyle Decamp '19 was UCLA's Top Gun advocate.  Kian Khajooei '20 was his second chair. Justin Bernstein, director of the Cappello Program in Trial Advocacy, coached the team.

The top four finish in Top Gun completes an incredible season for the Cappello Program. The trial team won three tournaments and made the playoffs at all eight events it entered.  Stretching back to the previous school year, UCLA has reached the playoffs at 10 consecutive tournaments.  "I'm not aware of any program with a longer current streak," said Bernstein.