The Liberty University School of Law Trial Team was crowned national champions following a unanimous decision over Fordham University in the final round of the American Bar Association Arbitration Competition National Championship in Chicago, Ill., Saturday.
This is the first year Liberty has posted a team in the national competition.
The victory came as a surprise, as the Trial Team was formed last year and was entered in the regional contest as a way to prepare it for another competition, the National Trial Competition and American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition, in March.
The team earned a shot at nationals after a stunning second-place win at the regional competition in November.
The team is comprised of Aaron McCurdy, Kacey Martin, Ethan Hargraves, and Colin Campbell, and is coached by Pamela Bell, associate professor of law.
Liberty faced off against Michigan State University College of Law in the opening preliminary round, defeating them by a 3-0 judges decision. In the second preliminary round, South Texas won in a 2-1 split decision. Liberty headed into the semifinals seeded No. 4 and was able to beat No. 1-ranked South Texas with a 3-0 decision.
"I could not be more proud of the students and professor Pamela Bell," said Mat Staver, dean of Liberty University School of Law. "Their dedication to the law school and determination have brought great honor to the school and to our Lord. Their victory is a tremendous achievement and a great honor as first-time national champions."
The success of Liberty's Trial Team caught the attention of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who congratulated them on behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
In a letter to the team he wrote, "Your performance at the ABA Arbitration Competition speaks to your hard work and dedication in preparation of this event. In just your first year of competition, you have set an excellent example for the students who will follow you. ... I also commend you for your commitment to furthering your education and representing our commonwealth with the skill and sportsmanship we expect of all our students."