Published on May 28, 2024  
Grayson Walden, Top Gun | John West, Second Chair
Grayson Walden, Top Gun | John West, Second Chair
Samford University Cumberland School of Law was invited to compete in the 2024 Top Gun National Mock Trial Competition, May 28-June 2. 
Top Gun, hosted by Baylor Law School, is now in its 15th year and is the most challenging law school mock trial competition in the country. Sixteen law schools are selected based on each school’s results in other major national mock trial competitions earlier that year. Cumberland School of Law is the only law school in the country to participate  consecutively for 15 years.
Each law school is represented by a single student advocate—each school’s Top Gun —who must conduct a solo trial, head-to-head against the Top Guns from the other schools invited. Each advocate is assisted by a second chair and one coach. Grayson Walden, a second-year law student from Spanish Fort, Alabama, was Cumberland School of Law's Top Gun for 2024, and John West, a second-year law student from Thomasville, Georgia, served as second chair. Judge Jim Roberts, JD ’94, director of National Trial Teams, served as their coach.
Walden was a member of the Cumberland School of Law team that finished as National Runner-up in the National Civil Trial Competition in the fall semester. This spring, he was a member of one of the two teams to sweep the National Trial Competition regional championships and his team was ranked fifth in the Amicus Cup tournament.
Top Gun is widely considered the most difficult national mock trial competition because schools are not provided with the case file until 24 hours before the competition begins and are required to prepare to try both sides of the case in only one day. The competition requires students to master accelerated case preparation, quick command of the facts and law, and adaptability. The competition also incorporates the use of advanced trial presentation software and has a winner-take-all prize of $10,000.
Judge Roberts said, “Top Gun challenges law school advocates with its innovative and unusual format. This competition most closely mirrors the pressure of being in trial by simulating the requirement to prepare for the next day after the conclusion of a long, hard day of trial through adding new witnesses and additional facts for the following rounds. We are honored to have been invited to compete in Top Gun XV and humbled to be the only program invited to every Top Gun tournament.”
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.