Posted by William Nunnelley on 2011-01-26

Two students from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, Sims Rhyne and Wes Hill, won the annual American Bar Association (ABA) Student Tax Challenge Jan. 20-21 in Boca Raton, Fla.

            Ninety-five teams representing law schools across the country entered the national competition sponsored by the ABA Section of Taxation, with the final rounds held at its 2011 Midyear Meeting in Boca Raton.  An alternative to traditional moot court competitions, the Student Tax Challenge asks two-person teams to solve cutting-edge and complex tax problems that might arise in everyday tax practice.

            Law professor Brannon Denning coaches the Cumberland team.  He was unable to go with the team to the competition and the team was accompanied by Bruce Ely of the Birmingham law firm of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings.

            “We are known for winning advocacy competitions and winning a tax competition shows the quality of our students and the depth of our program,” said Cumberland Dean John L. Carroll.

            The teams submit written materials in the initial rounds of the competition.  The early round winners then defend their written materials before a panel of leading tax lawyers, judges of the U.S. Tax Court and senior attorneys from the IRS national office in Washington, D.C.,  at the annual meeting of the ABA Section of Taxation.

            This year’s problem focused on the personal income tax effects of a famous athlete’s divorce from his wife, and his subsequent attempts to repair his marriage and career.  The problem asked participants to evaluate alternate property settlement proposals from his wife’s lawyer and analyze the deductibility of certain expenses incurred by the client.



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.