Published on June 30, 2021 by Morgan Black
Averie Armstead, a 2019 Cumberland School of Law graduate and an associate at Birmingham law firm Starnes Davis Florie LLP, has supported the law school since becoming an alumna. Here she expands upon her experience as a student and why she gives back as an alumna.
Why did you choose to make a leadership commitment to support Cumberland School of Law?
When I finished law school, I decided that I would invest in the people and institutions that invested in me. My childhood dream of becoming an attorney became possible because of Cumberland School of Law. I had the pleasure of serving in various leadership capacities, and I believe that leadership continues outside of designated times of service. As advocates, I believe we have a lifelong commitment of servant leadership.
Why did you choose to support Cumberland School of Law's Academic Support program?
I choose to support Cumberland’s Academic Support Program because it was vital to my success as a law student. Professor Hogewood’s mindful and holistic learning approach taught me work-life balance. The “secret sauce” of Cumberland graduates is that we get practical experience in the classroom. Not only did that include practical litigation experiences, but also how to have a practical life with a demanding profession. The Academic Support Program taught prioritization skills, developed time management skills, and also illustrated self-care techniques for a sustainable life.
Tell us your personal Cumberland story and what lead you to choose Cumberland for your law degree.
I chose Cumberland because of the wonderful admissions staff. I grew up in Birmingham, and I always admired Samford’s beautiful campus. While I was working at The University of Alabama, I visited the law fair during my lunch break. As I walked around the room, I waited to speak to a colleague. I started talking with Cumberland’s admissions staff and shared with them that I had previously taken the LSAT, but I had not applied to law school. They encouraged me to apply, even if I wasn’t sure that I was ready to take the next step. I could tell that they cared about me as a young professional. Their investment in my story illustrated that they would take care of me as a student and as a professional.
Tell us about a special moment while you were a student at Cumberland or about your favorite Cumberland tradition.
My favorite Cumberland tradition is Rascal Day. I served on the Student Bar Association all three years of law school, and Rascal Day became one of my own personal favorite projects. I never had a dog growing up, but I always loved animals. During my 3L year of law school, my Pup-Phew (brother’s dog), Crosby, died. Crosby was a beloved member of our family, and he would sit with me while I studied for my law school exams. During my 3L year, even though Crosby was not able to attend, being around my classmates and their four-legged friends made it a memory worthwhile.
Tell us what Cumberland School of Law has meant to you as an alumna.
As a Birmingham litigator, Cumberland has provided me with an invaluable community. My Cumberland family serves as mentors, friends, advisers, and advocates. Prior to COVID, I held a Bible study for law students to evaluate the challenges of academia with the promises of faith. Through this Bible study, I have had the pleasure to serve as a mentor to many; but more than that, I gained inspiration from their resilience. Additionally, being a Cumberland alumna has meant having mentors throughout the profession. Robert “Bob” MacKenzie '84, Anne Durward '95, Stephanie Mays '07, and countless others have guided me through my first few years as a practicing attorney. Their wisdom has traveled beyond the walls of Memory Leake Robinson Hall and into courtrooms around the state.
What do you hope current and future students gain through your support?
I hope that future students feel encouraged and supported throughout their time at the law school. Scholarships assisted me greatly in my education, and I am honored to have the opportunity to give back. I firmly believe that “to whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48). Cumberland has given me more than I can enumerate, and I hope that my support is equally impactful. Our job is to simply steward of the gifts and talents we have been given; and, I believe that stewarding those gifts and talents helps bring about the change we all want to see.