Published on March 20, 2023 by Morgan Black  
Trials and Tribulations 2023

For the first time, Cumberland School of Law’s National Trial Team was selected to compete in the Trials and Tribulations Competition hosted by the University of South Carolina School of Law in March 2023. Unlike other national competitions, all three parties—the plaintiff and two defendants—were represented by student advocates in each round, requiring our students to face off against two opponents in each round. 

Cumberland School of Law was represented by second-year students Claire Tomberlin, Marilee Butler, David Lindsey and Lauren Briscoe, and third-year student Elise Driskill. Butler, in her first competition as an advocate, represented both the plaintiff and defendant.

Through the six preliminary rounds, the advocates faced St. John’s University School of Law, Florida International University College of Law, Emory University School of Law, UC Berkeley School of Law, Quinnipiac University School of Law, University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, South Texas College of Law and the University South Dakota Knudson School of Law. Based on strongly presented cases, Cumberland was ranked as the second seed in the competition coming out of the preliminary rounds, with four first place finishes and two second place finishes. After a hard fought battle in the quarterfinals, Cumberland fell to eventual competition winner, the University of Houston Law Center. Marilee Butler and Elise Driskill earned the Outstanding Advocate Awards for their authentic presentations in the preliminary rounds.

The team was coached by John Banks, J.D. ’21, and Rylee Davis, J.D. ’21. 

Banks said, “This team endured through a lot and put in tons of hard work during this semester to compete this past weekend in a rare three-party competition. For three of our five advocates, this was their first competition advocating and they became better advocates and were able to compete and beat some good advocates from great programs in the process.”

Davis said, “We could not be more proud of these advocates and how much they grew over this semester and how they performed this weekend. They represented Cumberland well—coaches and advocates from other teams made it a point to say how professional, courteous, and skilled each of our advocates were after rounds."

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.