Published on March 22, 2022 by Morgan Black
Cumberland School of Law’s national advocacy competition season is in full swing, and the teams are having a successful year. Recently, the National Trial Team and the National Moot Court Team advanced to several very prestigious national advocacy competitions.
During the weekend of March 11-13, the National Trial Team competed in the Regional American Association for Justice (AAJ) competition. Throughout the event, two Cumberland teams competed, both dominating the competition and advancing to the finals, with one team advancing to nationals.
The team of third-year students Jake Norwood, Elizabeth Weyerman, Dillon Rheuby and Ander Shimek advanced to the finals after defeating teams from Vanderbilt University Law School, the University of Alabama School of Law and Widener University Delaware Law School. They defeated Belmont University College of Law in the final round, securing a spot in the AAJ National Trial Competition.
The team of third-year students Olivia Hall and Owen Mattox, and second-year students Elise Driskill and Morgan Grissett, also advanced to the finals winning every judge’s ballot in the preliminary and semifinal rounds. The team defeated teams from Belmont University College of Law, the University of Arkansas Fayetteville Law School and the University of Mississippi School of Law. The team competed against the University of Alabama School of Law in the final round losing by one point on one ballot.
These teams were coached by Julie McMakin ’09, Curtis Seal ’17 and Spenser Templeton Moore ’15.
In addition, Cumberland’s National Moot Court team dominated the American Bar Association’s (ABA) National Appellate Advocacy Competition’s regional competition, March 4-6. During the event, two Cumberland teams competed virtually among 26 other teams where they advanced to the national competition.
Third-year students Mitchell Brisbon and Kaylee Rose reached the final round where they defeated Baylor University Law School by 5-0 and advanced to the national competition. The pair won every ballot in every round. In addition, Brisbon was named 4th best oralist in the region. Judge Anne Durward ’95 and Anna Saunders ’19 coached this team. Third-student Pierce Ostwalt and second-year student Danner Kline also competed; they were coached by Charlie Shah ’96.
“Our students represent Samford and Cumberland with the highest degree of ethics and professionalism,” said Associate Professor Ramona Albin, director of advocacy programs. “Our program prepares students to represent clients with expertise and excellence and lead in 21st century litigation.”
These efforts continue a long tradition of excellence in advocacy at Cumberland School of Law. The school is currently ranked 8th in the nation for trial advocacy by U.S. News & World Report and is also ranked 4th in the nation by the Trial Competition Performance Rankings.
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.