Mexico Programs

Since 2013, ABA ROLI has supported Mexico’s transition from an inquisitorial, written-based system to an accusatorial system through our program, New Advocates for Mexican Justice, funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. This program started with the intention of supporting the New Criminal Justice System (NCJS), which was the result of a constitutional reform in Mexico that shifted from a written-based criminal justice system towards an orality-based accusatorial system. ABA ROLI works with Mexican law schools to prepare the next generation of Mexican attorneys for practice in the accusatorial trial context. To build the capacity of the students and faculty in Mexico’s law schools, ABA ROLI works with the institutions to develop the student’s litigation, mediation, and restorative justice skills, as well as tailor the instructors’  legal education teaching methods to mirror the accusatorial trial system. Since the project’s inception, ABA ROLI has reached more than 6,000 law students representing all thirty-two Mexican states, 935 law school professors, and 237 law schools through technical skills training sessions and the administration of nationwide mock trial and mediation competitions.  

The program also seeks to link program graduates with agencies involved in the criminal justice sector as a strategy to strengthen the institutions in charge of the judicial resolutions, prosecute crimes and criminal defense.

Hosting National Mock Trial and Mediation and Restorative Justice Competitions

ABA ROLI Mexico continues to host the largest annual National Mock Trial Competition and National Mediation and Restorative Justice Competition in Mexico. These competitions are among the most prestigious of their kind in the country, with approximately 47 law schools from 24 states participating in these competitions. Many former competition participants have successfully secured work in state government agencies involved in the criminal justice system. In 2019, 926 law students and faculty participated in ABA ROLI’s national mock trial competition, and 750 law students and faculty participated in the national mediation competition.

To build on the value that participation in ABA ROLI’s competitions adds to a Mexican law student’s career trajectory, participating students receive fellowship and study tour opportunities to learn about the criminal justice system in the United States. For example, the winners of ABA ROLI’s competitions in 2019 traveled to San Diego, California and Washington, DC for a comparative and practical experience of the United State’s criminal justice system and the relevant institutions involved in criminal investigations and proceedings. 

In 2020, ABA ROLI has engaged with law schools from 24 states (of 33) in Mexico (marked in red above).

In 2020, ABA ROLI has engaged with law schools from 24 states (of 33) in Mexico (marked in red above).

Bolstering Competencies for legal instructors’ and Professionals 

ABA ROLI holds training sessions and workshops on trial advocacy, mediation and negotiation, as well as restorative justice for law students and professors in different geographic regions of Mexico.  The training of trainers’ (ToT) workshops engage  law professors and academic advisors on  mock trial and mediation techniques for both national Competitions. The program also offers an online Criminal Investigation Skills course for future criminal justice sector entities to develop and strengthen their investigative  skills.

Enhancing standards and best practices for law school competitions

To promote sustainability throughout the program, legal education institutions receive planning guidance as they develop local mock trial and mediation competitions. Through the National Alliance for Oral Litigation Competitions we continue to work in improving standards and establishing best practices for law school competitions.

Strengthening the Justice Section Workforce

Through this program, ABA ROLI hosts job fairs and fosters connections with prosecutors’ offices for law students who participate in our Mexico program. The job fairs pave a pathway for good practices, and the effectiveness of the New Criminal Justice System (NCJS). The NCJS was created under Mexico’s  constitutional reform that shifted the criminal justice system from inquisitorial to accusatorial. Students’ experiences with ABA ROLI’s program ensures they are equipped with the appropriate skills to support the NCJS. During the National Competitions the participants have the opportunity to be personally introduced to criminal justice sector entities, which helps them liaise with, learn from, and learn about practicing litigators and mediators. 

In 2019, ABA ROLI held five job fairs and meetings with prosecutors’ offices, where we connected eighty-seven students with employers representing prosecutors’ offices, the public defense service, the judiciary, government agencies, and private employers at the state and federal level.