Published on February 19, 2024 by Morgan Black  
NTC Regionals 24
For the 12th time in 16 years, Samford University Cumberland School of Law won the regional competition of the National Trial Competition (NTC). During the event, Feb. 16-18, both Cumberland School of Law teams swept the competition, securing the school’s seventh sweep of regionals in the past 14 years earning both teams a spot at nationals.
The National Trial Competition is the oldest and one of the most prestigious law school trial competitions in the country. Both Cumberland School of Law teams will compete in the national tournament in Houston, Texas, April 3-6. In total, 19 Cumberland School of Law teams have advanced to nationals in the last 16 years.
The team of third-year student Treasure Sutton, and second-year students Lily Dickinson and John West, defeated teams from Mississippi College of Law, the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law, and Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law in the preliminary rounds. Then, they went on to defeat Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law in the semifinals and University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphrey School of Law in the finals by winning 17 of 19 judges’ ballots.
The team of third-year student Alexandra Sexton, and second-year students Jacob Powell and Grayson Walden defeated teams from the University of Alabama School of Law, Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law and the University of Kentucky Rosenberg School of Law in the preliminary rounds. Then, they went on to defeat Vanderbilt Law School in the semifinals and Belmont University College of Law in the finals by also winning 17 of 19 judges’ ballots.
The teams were coached by Judge Jim Roberts, JD ’94, director of National Trial Teams; Michael Eldridge, JD ’12; and Craig Shirley, JD ’19.
Roberts, who has been coaching Cumberland School of Law trial teams for 26 years said, “I am so proud of these extremely talented and gifted students for their dedication, willingness to learn and extraordinary work ethic. I am most proud of the manner in which they conducted themselves with professionalism and civility, especially in the face of adversity. These students worked countless hours at nights and on weekends while juggling their schoolwork, jobs and family responsibilities so that they could learn the art and skill of trial advocacy and better serve their clients and their community in the future. We are blessed at Cumberland to have the support of our administration and faculty and amazing coaches who volunteer their time to give back to our program. For that, I am indeed thankful.”
Matt Woodham, JD ’15, assistant director of advocacy programs, said, “Our success in this competition speaks volumes about the talent and professionalism of Cumberland’s advocacy students and the incredible people who train them. I have no doubt that these students could walk into any courtroom and stand shoulder to shoulder with seasoned trial attorneys. Congratulations, and special thanks to our coaches: Craig Shirley, Michael Eldridge and Judge Jim Roberts, who will be leading his 22nd and 23rd teams from Cumberland to the national tournament.”
Cumberland School of Law, which was founded on the basis of preparing practice-ready lawyers, holds a longstanding tradition of excellence in advocacy training. Currently, the school is ranked 4th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for trial advocacy, 3rd in the nation in the Gavel Rankings, and 5th in the nation in the Trial Competition Performance Rankings.
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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.