Published on April 2, 2024 by Morgan Black  
DoubleSweep 2024

Recently, Samford University Cumberland School of Law’s National Trial Teams completed a rare double sweep of the regional championships for the National Trial Competition (NTC) and the American Association of Justice’s (AAJ) Student Trial Advocacy Competition (STAC). The two teams will represent Cumberland School of Law at the national competitions for each respective tournament the first week of April.
The two prestigious competitions are the oldest and largest law school trial competitions in the country, which both use the regional format to determine the teams who will advance to the national finals. For each competition, two teams are crowned regional champions and receive bids to the national championship. This year, for the first time in the law school’s trial advocacy program history, teams from Cumberland School of Law won all four regional championships and received invitations to nationals.
Sara Williams, JD ’06, visiting director of advocacy programs, said, “The monumental achievement of our NTC and AAJ teams this year should serve as an inspiration to the entire Cumberland community. These students and coaches dedicated countless late nights, early mornings and weekends to achieve a goal that solidifies this institution’s reputation as a formidable program. We wish the teams and coaches the best of luck as they represent us this week at their respective national competitions.”
Matt Woodham, JD ’15, assistant director of advocacy programs, said, “It is hard to overstate how impressive a result this is for these students and our program. Cumberland has been competing in trial competitions at the national level for almost 50 years, and this is the first time we have swept both regionals in these prestigious competitions. I am so grateful to our coaches for the many hours they have spent preparing the next generation of practice-ready lawyers, and I am so proud of how our students have demonstrated their incredible potential.”
The NTC teams of third-year students Alexandra Sexton and Treasure Sutton and second-year students Lily Dickinson, Jacob Powell, Grayson Walden and John West will be competing in Houston, Texas, April 3-6. The teams will be coached by director of National Trial Teams Judge Jim Roberts, JD ’94, and Craig Shirley, JD ’19.
The STAC teams of third-year students Lauren Briscoe, Marilee Butler and Robbie Garcia and second-year students Omega Adams, Alexa Guiterrez, Kenesha Mahan, Conner Sorrells and Christi Smith with be competing in Chicago, Illinois, April 5-7. The teams will be coached by Julie McMakin, JD ’09, Michael Eldridge, JD ’12, Spenser Templeton, JD ’15, Curtis Seal, JD ’17, and Isabella Colombo, JD ’20.
Roberts is in his 26th year coaching and directing Cumberland School of Law’s National Trial Teams. He said, “The double sweep is a rarity in the national trial advocacy community and is a tribute to our program’s philosophy of creating a space where students are encouraged to find their own, authentic voice and then taught to use that voice to advocate for others. The true joy of coaching and directing this program is watching the growth our students experience through their hard work and dedication to our profession. Of course, this would not be possible without students willing to learn and sacrifice in an effort to find their inner greatness or the countless hours volunteered by our alumni coaches who give back to our program by teaching the next generation.”

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.