Samford University Cumberland School of Law
Academics & Programs: Students at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law say their school is “a little bit of a hidden gem” and “a great place to become a lawyer.” The bar-passage rate is utterly fabulous. There are seven joint-degree programs and a “diverse array” of available courses. “Practical skills are the strength” here, though. The legal writing program is reportedly outstanding. Students have an “incredible amount of opportunity to get experience in trial competition.” “As far as trial advocacy goes, you cannot find a better school in the country,” vaunts a 3L. “Practicing litigation attorneys train students in specialized trial advocacy programs, and the trial teams consistently win major national tournaments.” Externships and a wealth of community service programs also provide “unmatched” opportunities to gain practical experience.
Cumberland is a small school with small class sizes, and it is home to “a diverse faculty with impeccable credentials.” The professors are “an amazing group.” “There is always going to be that jerk who is a complete know-it-all and thinks he hung the moon in any law school,” and Cumberland is no exception. As a rule, though, these professors are “extremely knowledgeable” and “hilarious yet simultaneously intimidating.” They “have practice experience, which is helpful in class because it allows for personal experiences to be introduced,” and they “emphasize what will actually be useful and necessary” when you are representing clients. “A wonderful open-door policy” is another plus. “Professors are willing to meet with students and discuss the subject matter at any point outside of class,” and they “genuinely want to help students in whatever way they can.” “I don’t even know why they put ‘office hours’ in their syllabi,” adds a happy 2L. Students also rave about their “hands-on,” accessible, and “very personable” administration. “They actually know students’ names and want to help.” And if you want to “shoot the breeze” with the dean, you can.
Campus Life/Facilities: Facilities-wise, “The campus is beautiful and is extremely convenient to all areas of Birmingham.” The “comfortable” and “awesome” library is “a great place to study.” “Also, the library resources are exceptional,” and the librarians are “wonderful” if you are in a bind. The “outdated” classrooms aren’t the greatest. They “can feel a little cramped,” and they are “windowless.” “In some ways, that is a good thing because it keeps you from getting distracted,” explains a 1L. “The technology in the classrooms isn’t the best,” either.
Students are pretty satisfied with their career prospects, although the “extremely helpful” Career Services Office “could do a better job marketing the school’s graduates outside of the Birmingham legal market,” laments a 2L. “The alumni network of this school is incredible,” beams a 2L. “Cumberland alums are always looking to hire the bright young Cumberland graduates. And if an alum can’t help you out, they are always willing to refer you to someone who can.”
Politically, liberals are seen occasionally, but the overall population leans “pretty far to the right.” Academically, there may be “a behind-the-scenes competitiveness,” but the atmosphere looks and feels “cooperative and collegial.” “Most students are more than willing to help their classmates succeed.” Socially, Cumberland is a decidedly “Southern school.” Hospitality is paramount, and “even the slightly awkward students are still warmly received.” “There is a real community at Cumberland,” relates a 2L. “We study together, hang out together, and have formed a tight bond with each other,” adds another 2L. “There is a friendliness and warmth that you just won’t find at other schools.” “We interact with each other like friendly colleagues; we compete with each other like sibling rivals; and we support each other through the trials of life and death like family,” reflects an already wistful 3L.
“The school creates a ‘work hard’ culture but constantly has entertaining social events.” Weekly bar reviews around the affordable, growing city of Birmingham are reportedly well attended. In the spring, Cumberland celebrates Rascal Day in honor of its long-deceased canine mascot. There’s food and live music, and the dean and the school president lead a march through campus.
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.