Published on May 11, 2023 at 6 a.m. by Morgan Black
As part of U.S. News & World Report’s 2023-2024 Best Law Schools rankings released May 11, Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law ranked 4th in the nation for Trial Advocacy.
Cumberland School of Law Dean Blake Hudson said, “Our trial advocacy program has always been one of the best in the nation. We are proud to once again be in the top echelon of law schools preparing students to engage in trial advocacy from the moment they graduate and pass the bar. We look forward to continuing to build out our advocacy programs through new fundraising initiatives to make sure that we remain a pillar of trial advocacy training in the United States.”
Over the last year, the success of the program has been displayed through the achievements of its National Trial Team. In the fall, they placed 5th in the Flash Trial Competition, 3rd in the Battle of the Experts and were semifinalists in the Syracuse National Trial Competition. In the spring, the teams swept the regional round of the American Association of Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition which advanced them to the finals. During the finals, two Cumberland teams won 2nd and 5th place. Additionally, student advocates reached the quarterfinals of the Trials and Tribulations Competition and the final four of the South Texas Mock Trial Challenge. During many of these competitions, Cumberland students have been the recipients of outstanding advocate and professionalism awards.
In addition to competition success, recent curricular additions have expanded the reach of the program. A new experiential course, Alabama Criminal Practice and Procedure, teaches students to excel in the courtroom in non-trial contexts such as preliminary hearings, bond hearings, sentencing hearings and more. Additionally, more offerings of existing courses such as Jury Selection, Negotiation, Depositions, and Pre-Trial Practice and Procedure, and the addition of two sections to the Basic Skills in Trial Advocacy, has created an additional 80 seats in advocacy courses to prepare Cumberland graduates to enter litigation fields ready to advocate for their clients effectively and ethically.
Judge Jim Roberts, J.D. ’94, director of National Trial Teams said, "I am thrilled with the U.S. News trial advocacy rankings. Our ranking is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our students, trial advocacy coaches and faculty. We are blessed at Cumberland to have students and coaches who devote countless hours learning and teaching the skills necessary for our students to be successful, practice ready professionals. Helping our students become exceptional lawyers and even more exceptional people is the hallmark of our program. This ranking would not be possible without the support of our university, administration and faculty and the tireless, selfless commitment of our coaching staff. It is truly an honor to work with all of them."
Cumberland’s National Trial Team also ranks 4th in the nation in the Trial Competition Performance Rankings from 2016 to present, and, in 2022, placed 5th in the nation in the newly established GAVEL Rankings.
“I could not be prouder of the fantastic news that Cumberland’s trial advocacy program will be ranked 4th in the nation for the 2023-2024 academic year,” said Matt Woodham, interim director of advocacy programs. “The ranking reflects an excellent year for Cumberland in terms of competition results, curricular growth, and service to the advocacy education community. But, above all, the ranking is a well-deserved recognition of the tireless and exemplary work our teachers and students put in to preparing the next generation of practice ready lawyers to do real good for real people.”
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. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 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.