Judge David Erickson receives Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching Advocacy

David A. Erickson

David A. Erickson

Retired Illinois Appellate Justice David A. Erickson, director of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Trial Advocacy Program, received Stetson University College of Law’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching Advocacy. Erickson received the award, which recognizes individuals “who have fundamentally changed the way in which the world approaches the teaching of advocacy,” on May 19, during Stetson’s “Educating Advocates: Teaching Advocacy Skills” conference in Gulfport, Flo.

Erickson has had a distinguished career as a prosecutor, felony court judge, appellate court justice, and supervising judge. He earned his undergraduate degree from Northern Illinois University and his J.D. from John Marshall Law School.

“Dave Erickson is the gold standard for trial advocacy teachers,” said Judge Warren D. Wolfson, who established IIT Chicago-Kent’s Trial Advocacy Program in 1971. “Nobody does it better. Not just because his teams win national championships, but because the lawyers he has trained and guided have demonstrated unmatched high levels of competency and integrity.” Wolfson, currently a member of the DePaul University Law School faculty, won the lifetime achievement award in 2009.

At IIT Chicago-Kent, Erickson teaches evidence, criminal procedure and trial advocacy courses. He also developed the curriculum for Chicago-Kent’s certificate program in criminal litigation and has directed a “Rule of Law” initiative program aimed at preparing legal professionals and law students in Mexico for dramatic changes in that country’s legal system.

Since 1983, Erickson has served as faculty adviser and coach of IIT Chicago-Kent’s national trial advocacy teams. Under his leadership, IIT Chicago-Kent’s trial advocacy teams have won numerous individual student honors and regional and national competitions. IIT Chicago-Kent recently won the 2015 National Trial Competition’s regional and national tournaments and best oral advocate award. This year, law school teams also won the National Ethics Trial Competition and regional championships in the ABA Labor and Employment Law Trial Advocacy, AAJ Student Trial Advocacy and NBLSA Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial competitions. In the most recent U.S. News & World Report graduate school rankings, IIT Chicago-Kent’s Trial Advocacy Program is ranked fourth in the country.

“Judge Erickson is an excellent trial advocacy teacher. But there are hundreds of those,” said Chicago attorney Joshua Jones (’08). “What separates Judge Erickson is his commitment and his heart.”

Jones was a member of the IIT Chicago-Kent teams that won prestigious National Trial Competition championships in 2007 and 2008. The first student ever to win two consecutive championships, he also won the tournament’s best oral advocate award in 2008.

“Judge Erickson does not merely teach students how to present a case; he inspires them to be the best version of themselves,” Jones continued. “And as a student, he demands that you appreciate the importance of committing to be a part of something bigger than yourself. I think I can speak for most every student that has come through our program when I say I wouldn’t be the lawyer or the person that I am today without him.”