After 16 years as a prosecutor in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Kelly Navarro (JD ’96) has joined John Marshall Law School’s Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution as its associate director. Navarro will oversee the John Marshall externship program, along with Clinical Professor Susann MacLachlan, director of the center. She will assist in the administration of the school’s trial and dispute resolution competitive teams, develop and oversee the Trial Advocacy and Dispute Resolution LLM curriculum, and update and administer the ABA-JMLS Criminal Justice Competition held annually at John Marshall. She joins Center Assistant Director Gary Watson in rounding out the Center staff.
Dean Ralph Ruebner welcomed Navarro “home” on her first day at the Center, something Navarro found touching and indicative of the close ties that remain between the faculty and the school’s alumni.
Since graduation Navarro stayed closely involved with John Marshall and its students. As a former SBA president, Navarro worked closely with Marilyn Criss, administrative assistant in the Student Affairs office, and their friendship continues to this day.
“One of the things I’m most excited about is continuing the tradition of giving back to our school in gratitude for the fine legal education I received here,” Navarro said. For 15 years, she worked with Professor Ronald C. Smith, the creator of the Criminal Justice Competition, conducting the annual event. Smith was a “favorite professor” of Navarro’s when she was student at John Marshall, and is someone Navarro still refers to as “a mentor and dear friend.”
MacLachlan, too, has had the pleasure of working closely with Smith, when he served as the director of the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution from 2008 to 2010: “Kelly and I were both fortunate to learn from Professor Smith’s example, and we remain grateful to him for all he’s done advancing our school’s reputation nationally in the area of trial advocacy. We look forward to continuing this tradition with the same passion and attention to detail he is known for in the trial advocacy competition field.”
Navarro agrees, and looks forward to bringing her litigation experience to the classroom at John Marshall, teaching both basic trial advocacy and the prosecution clinic classroom component of the Externship program. Navarro envisions increasing the placements of interested John Marshall students in the criminal courts and is anxious to share her courtroom experience by coaching teams in criminal trial competitions.
During her career with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Navarro tried hundreds of cases, argued before the Illinois Appellate Court and specialized in the prosecution of sex offenders. At John Marshall she has taught Criminal Procedure II, served as a guest lecturer on domestic violence and sexual assault, and alternative sentencing. Navarro is training to become a certified mediator in Illinois, and will work in this area with John Marshall students and Center staff. Navarro received a bachelor of science degree in marketing from Arizona State University. She is married to Assistant Attorney General David Navarro and they are proud parents of two grammar school age sons.