Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law welcomed new Juris Doctor students during their first-year orientation in Aug. 2023. With 156 total students representing 17 states and Vietnam, the class of 2026 is the most diverse first-year class in Cumberland School of Law’s history. The class of 2026 also reflects over 60 undergraduate colleges and universities and more than 30 undergraduate majors.
Throughout orientation, students participated in a variety of activities that would help them get familiar with not only law school, but Samford University as a whole. After headshots and introductions, the class of 2026 climbed aboard Sam-trams for an afternoon of campus tours. President Beck A. Taylor welcomed the class of 2026 with a reflection on leadership and left them with words of encouragement to carry with them throughout their time at Cumberland School of Law.
Later in the week, the class of 2026 took a trip to Montgomery, Alabama, where they toured the Equal Justice Initiative’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Legacy Museum and Legacy Pavilion. They also visited the Supreme Court of Alabama, where they heard from Associate Justice Will Sellers, and leaders from the Alabama State Bar addressed the bar admission process and provided students the opportunity to ask questions about various law careers.
First-year students ended their orientation by participating in Cumberland’s annual day of service. On Thursday, Aug. 10, they spent the day helping local nonprofits, such as Firehouse Ministries, the Humane Society and The Ministry Center at Green Springs.
First-year student Skyla Cooley commented on her experience, saying, “My sister and I are new to Homewood and the greater Birmingham area, so for us it was crucial that we get connected to the community that we will call home for the next three years. Julie Gentry explained the strenuous efforts she endured to get the community garden off the ground and how it has helped so many people who utilize the area. I admired her efforts, and it showed how putting your mind to something can pay off, which was a lesson that was weaved throughout the week of orientation.” Skyla’s sister, Sydni, also reflected on her experience during the service day. She said, " The service day project, for me, was a really great way to learn more about the Homewood community.”
Students were able to see firsthand how Cumberland School of Law’s focus on service goes beyond the walls of the classroom to make a lasting impact in local communities. Emily Davey, director of Clinics, Externships and Public Interest, said, “Service is an integral part of being a well-balanced lawyer. I am extremely proud that we are able to instill that mindset in our students during their first week of law school.” Not only is service is an integral part of the Cumberland experience, but also forming authentic connections with surrounding communities in need.
Samford University’s director of Community Engagement Debra Haralson said, “It was wonderful to see the Cumberland students connect with local organizations who are making a difference throughout the Greater Birmingham area. Samford University is committed to loving our neighbors in a way that is respectful, tangible, and mutually beneficial.”