Cumberland School of Law Wins National Civil Trial Competition in Los Angeles, California
A team from Samford University's Cumberland School of Law won the National Civil Trial Competition (NCTC) in Los Angeles, Calif., the weekend of Nov. 8-10, 2013. The competition hosted by Loyola Law School of Los Angeles featured 16 of the nation's top trial advocacy teams in one of the nation's premier trial advocacy events.
Cumberland School of Law's team of law students Alex McFall, Blake Milner, Jackson Neal and Genevieve Turner swept through the three preliminary rounds by taking every judge in wins over Stetson University College of Law, Syracuse University College of Law, and Baylor University Law School. In the semifinal round, they defeated the University of Akron School of Law. The semifinal rounds were presided over by Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell, U.S. District Court, Central District of California. In the final round, Cumberland School of Law defeated the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law. The final rounds were presided over by Judge Jay Gandhi U.S. District Court, Central District of California.
“This was an absolutely amazing experience. The teams we faced were polished, professional and absolutely fantastic,” said Genevieve Turner, third-year Cumberland School of Law student. “With that said, last year as second-year law students we put our focus on winning this competition, and I am so proud to be a part of a team that accomplishes its goals. The chemistry on this team is unbeatable." Turner is chief judge of Cumberland School of Law’s student–run Trial Advocacy Board. She has been a member of several law school skills teams that have competed regionally and nationally.
Last year, Cumberland School of Law placed third overall at this competition; McFall, Milner and Turner were members of this team. Chambers Waller, a Cumberland 2013 graduate with the law firm Carr Allison, is the only team member from last academic year to graduate. Waller received the competition’s 2012 Professionalism and Ethical Lawyering Award.
Judge James H. Roberts, a 1994 Cumberland graduate with the state of Alabama 6th Judicial Circuit, and Sara Williams, a 2006 Cumberland graduate with the law firm Alexander Shunnarah Injury Lawyers, coached the team. Judge Roberts said, “These students not only demonstrated extraordinary trial skills during this competition, but they represented our school in a most professional manner."
The National Civil Trial Competition is an invitation only tournament. It was started in 2002 by Loyola Law School Professor Susan Poehls and has been sponsored by the Santa Monica, California, law firm of Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP since its inception. The competition focuses on bringing the top trial training law schools from around the country together to train students in the art of trial practice. Each law school that participated in the competition sent a team of four students currently enrolled in the law school’s J.D. program. Each team participated in a civil lawsuit trial that consisted of opening statements, direct and cross examination of two witnesses per side, and closing arguments. The civil lawsuit being tried was based on a sexual harassment and hostile work environment case where an employee voluntarily terminated employment due to emotional stress after making complaints of sexual harassment and gender discrimination to upper management, and changes were not made to protect the employee.
The three-day competition began on November 8, 2013, with the first elimination round at the Santa Monica Courthouse. On November 10, 2013, the semifinal and final rounds were argued on Loyola’s downtown Los Angeles campus in its Girardi Advocacy Center. The 16 law schools competing this year included: Baylor Law School; Chicago-Kent College of Law; Duquesne University School of Law; Earle Mack School of Law, Drexel University; Loyola University of Chicago School of Law; University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law; Pepperdine University School of Law; Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law; Southwestern Law School; St. Mary’s University School of Law; Stetson University College of Law; Suffolk University Law School; Syracuse University College of Law; University of Akron School of Law; University of California, Berkeley School of Law; and Washington University School of Law, St. Louis.
From left, Judge James H. Roberts, Jackson Neal, Alex McFall, Genevieve Turner and Blake Milner
Top picture, from left Susan Poehls, Loyola’s director of trial advocacy programs and NCTC tournament founder; Alex McFall, Cumberland third-year law student of Jefferson City, Tenn.; Jackson Neal, Cumberland third-year law student of Birmingham, Ala.; Genevieve Turner, Cumberland third-year law student of Knoxville, Tenn., Blake Milner, Cumberland third-year law student of Birmingham, Ala.; and Christine Spagnoli, partner at Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP. Photo credit: Kim Fox/Loyola Law School