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- 12/26/18--00:00: _Grads Hiring Grads:...
- 12/26/18--00:00: _Forrest Firm Strive...
- 12/26/18--00:00: _Students Win AI Sof...
- 01/07/19--00:00: _School Announces An...
- 11/13/18--00:00: _iNClusive STEM Pitc...
- 09/25/18--00:00: _Muller Receives Aok...
- 08/15/18--00:00: _Johnston Allison & ...
- 12/26/18--00:00: Grads Hiring Grads: Opportunity and Impact
- 12/26/18--00:00: Students Win AI Software Contest
- 01/07/19--00:00: School Announces Annual Alumni Association Awards
John L. Sanders ’54, of Chapel Hill, N.C., a UNC School of Government faculty member from 1956-1994, will be presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing a lifetime career that has been highly distinguished, and achievements and contributions that are widely recognized as significant and outstanding in his field.
The Honorable D.C. “Mike” McIntyre ’81, of Hillsborough, N.C., a partner at Poyner Spruill LLP and former congressman, will be presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award, for accomplishments and contributions that have enhanced the school and the profession of law at the local, state, national and international level.
Jessica N. Holmes ’09, of Cary, N.C., an attorney with the N.C. Association of Educators and a Wake County commissioner, will receive the Outstanding Recent Graduate Award for achievements that have brought credit to the school, the legal profession or society.
Lissa L. Broome, of Chapel Hill, N.C., Burton Craige Distinguished Professor and director of the UNC Center for Banking and Finance, will receive the Professor S. Elizabeth Gibson Award for Faculty Excellence for embodying the outstanding qualities of integrity, legal scholarship, exemplary teaching and commitment to service to UNC School of Law and the University.
- 09/25/18--00:00: Muller Receives Aoki Asian Pacific American Jurisprudence Award
They call it “Commencement” for a reason: Graduating law school is only the first step toward becoming a lawyer. Next comes passing the bar exam. And after that, securing work that taps into your talents and passions.
Helping students gain employment is a critical mission of Carolina Law. U.S. News & World Report also recognizes the importance of employment. When the national magazine compiles its annual ranking of law schools, it considers the percentage of law students who have been hired into full-time jobs in their field at graduation and within 10 months of graduation. Carolina Law has a number of programs, faculty and staff committed to laying a path that leads from law school to a satisfying career. But oftentimes relationships with alumni can be the key to their success.
Many alumni already serve as conduits for Carolina Law students to connect to the first rung on their career ladder. Lawyers who graduated decades ago or only months ago participate in Career Nights, on-campus recruitment events, employer receptions, mock interviews, ranking analytics or panel discussions about practice areas. They share insights, offer encouragement, mentor students and, most important, they hire from among their own. They raise the profile of Carolina within their firms and organizations and look for opportunities to hire Carolina Law graduates.
Noel Barnard ’13 took advantage of the law school’s externship program as a student, working at a small pharmaceutical company a couple of days a week during a semester in exchange for course credit instead of pay. The company hired him full time when he graduated. A couple years later, he accepted an offer from another company and had to hire his own replacement, which he did by reaching out to a former extern. And when he needed to add staff at his new company, he tapped yet another former extern.
“When you’re a Carolina Law grad and you’re hiring another Carolina Law grad, you know what you’re getting,” Barnard said. “You know it’s a great school; you know the professors; you know the curriculum. You’re getting great people who are going to work hard and contribute to the community.”
As an alumnus he speaks as a panelist to share his experience with the externship program, and he represents his company at the law school’s Career Night.
Barnard considers the externship program a win-win. Students get practical experience, and employers get fresh minds to take on some of the legal tasks that a junior lawyer might do. Externs can sample from a variety of professional settings by working for a corporation, a judge, a law firm or a nonprofit.
The company he externed for was a strong proponent of the extern program, and now that Barnard is in a position to hire, he can see why.
“Carolina Law grads who externed can walk through the door and handle what I think it would take two or three years for someone to know how to do well on their own,” he said. “They can take it and run with it and do a fantastic job.”
Similarly, interns, whether paid or unpaid, also gain valuable experience but no course credit. A few years ago, Suzanne Chester ’95 became co-chair of Legal Aid of North Carolina’s law school recruitment committee, and she assigned herself to recruiting at UNC. She does on-campus interviews and, with a co-worker, has continued to develop Legal Aid’s internship program. She also conducts mock interviews, speaks as a panelist on UNC employer panels and attends employer receptions.
“When I graduated from law school, you found what you found by yourself,” she said. “Now, UNC does a lot of advising and one-on-one work, especially with students interested in public interest.”
Internships give students the inside story of what Legal Aid work is like and sometimes leads to securing one of four fellowships or a permanent hire. Clients are poor and often in crisis. Interns go out into the field and see firsthand the impact of poverty on people’s lives and how conditions in society can throw them into crisis. This can fuel a passion in some law students, one shared by longtime Legal Aid lawyers. The senior lawyers enjoy the energy interns bring.
“If you love your job, it’s great to be able to share that with students,” Chester said.
Early on in his career with the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s office, Spencer Merriweather ’05 was the intern coordinator. Now as the district attorney, he makes all the hires for his office. He relies on Carolina Law continuing to prioritize diversity in its student body.
“I want to be able to count on Carolina Law as a resource to create a prosecutor’s office that looks like the state of North Carolina,” he said.
This year, he’ll be part of Career Night at the law school to communicate to students that dedicated, hard-working students from Carolina Law have a place in his office. He participates in the Practicing Law Webinar that gives a vivid picture of the range of opportunities for law students. Because in Charlotte his office competes with the likes of Duke Energy, Wells Fargo and Bank of America for top-quality law grads, he has to make the closing argument that convinces them that the district attorney’s office is a worthwhile place to make a career.
“A prosecutor never has to go to bed at night wondering whether they had an impact on someone’s life or in the community,” Merriweather said.
He tends to give Carolina Law graduates a higher level of scrutiny to make sure that the institution that granted him a law degree still has the same quality.
“From the students I’ve seen over time,” he said, “there is no question that Carolina Law is getting better. I see a deeper pool of talented students.” Their grasp of social justice issues, their willingness to challenge convention and ask questions improve any institution. “I’m finding brave kids applying to this office. That gives me a great sense of pride as a UNC graduate.”
Rebecca Mitchell ’18 wasn’t sure when she entered law school whether to follow the public interest or private practice route. But she was drawn to Carolina Law because of its solid pro bono culture. Tar Heel born and bred, “it was very important to me to go to a law school that gives back to North Carolina,” she said. She lives that value by recommending classes to current students and giving them interviewing tips.
In high school, she had shadowed Frank Whitney ’87, chief judge of the U.S. District Court, Western District of North Carolina. She interned for him the summer after her 1L year. Now that she has her law degree, he hired her as one of his term law clerks.
She knew about the Carolina Law family and its strong alumni network. “It speaks for itself,” she said. “I had no concerns about finding employment once I graduated.”
Mitchell, who will head to Boston to practice in the labor and employment section of a private law firm once she completes her yearlong clerkship, said: “I don’t want to minimize the importance of financial contributions, but grads hiring grads is the biggest thing alumni can do for their law school.”
René Kathawala ’96 runs the pro bono program at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe in New York. He has been with the firm since he got his law degree, except for a yearlong federal clerkship. At the time he graduated, only two New York law firms came to Carolina to recruit. For the past 22 years, he has advocated for Orrick to recruit at UNC, and he has prevailed. For several years, he represented the firm during recruitment visits to campus; he also conducted phone screens. When Orrick pared its number of schools to 20, he made sure Carolina stayed on the list.
This year Carolina Law alumnus David Ruff ’09 is up for partner at Orrick, in line to become the first Tar Heel to make partner there.
“That’s critical to longevity in recruiting people from UNC,” Kathawala said.
He continues to share his insights and guidance with Carolina Law grads, even when Orrick doesn’t make them an offer. Associates have to take on the challenge of being business developers, winning assignments from partners who dole out the work. A good lawyer identifies problems for clients before they become crises. Even those with the most gifted analytical minds won’t be successful lawyers if they aren’t good at interacting with human beings. Not only must your clients find you likable, but so must the lawyers on the other side.
Kathawala recognizes that he received a world-class education at Carolina Law with tuition substantially subsidized by taxpayers, which motivates him to make current students’ lives and careers richer. His continued involvement with new waves of alumni is a tangible way to show his gratitude beyond writing a check.
“Every Carolina Law grad has the opportunity to give back,” he said.
All of these experiences provide a blueprint for helping even more Carolina Law grads secure employment. “Students come out of Carolina Law prepared and eager to do top quality legal work,” said Andy Hessick, professor and associate dean for strategy. “Carolina Law’s alumni network provides an amazing potential resource for helping students land jobs.”
In addition to being part of Carolina Law’s core mission to its students, increasing employment has the advantage of substantially improving Carolina Law’s place in law school rankings.
When Charles Plambeck ’86 who runs a global structured finance team at Citigroup learned that Carolina Law’s ranking in U.S. News & World Report had dipped, it didn’t square with what he knew of the quality of the school, its faculty, and its graduates. Applying tools similar to the ones he uses in his day-to-day work, he parsed the formula and data driving the USNWR rankings to find ways to lift the rankings to better reflect the quality of a Carolina Law legal education.
The data show an astonishing reality that hiring Carolina graduates has a disproportionate effect in moving the ranking upward. While financial gifts will always be needed to support the school, engaging with students and hiring grads can be just as important.
“Alumni can materially help the law school by hiring a new graduate before next March,” said Plambeck.
Climbing in the rankings through increased employment can be a self-fulling prophecy. Employers are more likely to hire from a higher-ranked school. Increasing the ranking can have other benefits, too. It can help attract top students and faculty, and it can create new opportunities for the law school’s growth, because funding sources are more likely to invest in a school on the rise.
More generally, the quality of the law school matters to the residents of our state, whether they realize it or not.
“Law and legal education are central to the prosperity and welfare of the people of the state,” Plambeck said. “If you don’t have a well-functioning legal system, people’s economic prospects are harmed, and their social rights and liberties are limited.”
To consider next steps, Plambeck now works, still as an alumnus giving back, as part of a team with Jeff Hirsch, professor and former associate dean for strategy, and Hessick, his successor; Nick Goettsch, associate dean for administration; Kelly Podger Smith ’02, associate dean for student affairs; and Deirdre Gordon, associate dean for advancement. Dean Martin Brinkley ’92 is also closely involved.
Beyond the rankings, all of this comes back to ensuring that Carolina Law grads thrive professionally and personally. Plambeck noted that law is an apprentice profession.
“How you deal with the people side of law, the practice and traditions, you only learn as an apprentice,” he said. “Everyone in law remembers the people they trained under. Finding a good mentor to teach you—that shapes people’s lives.”
All 11,000 Carolina Law alumni are an integral part of the team. While the career development office welcomes leads to well-paying full-time jobs, they also want to hear about those two-day research projects. Not everyone is in a position to hire a law grad, but most alumni can find a half-hour to talk with a student.
Carolina Law’s goal is to hit as close to 100% employment as possible by March for the previous year’s graduates. Carolina Law’s career development office gives students a head start by prepping first-year law students with resume reviews before fall break. From there, students participate in a career development curriculum that covers subjects such as drafting effective cover letters, conducting a successful job search and an interviewing skills workshop. Each student is given a career development handbook that guides them them through their legal job search as students and as grads. But the career development office can’t do it all. There are many ways alumni can get involved to help launch students’ careers. Alumni have the opportunity to serve as mentors, share their experiences in their practice areas at Career Night, participate in the mock interview programs and in CareerCasts webinars, or recruit students through on or off-campus interviews.
A Carolina Law grad knows the quality of a Carolina Law legal education. When grads hire grads, they have the opportunity to impact the life of a fellow alum, contribute to the quality of the school and invest in the legal education of future colleagues.
-December 26, 2018
In some ways, James Forrest ’04 runs his law practice, the Forrest Firm, like a dry-cleaning business. At a dry cleaner, an employee greets customers, takes their clothing and gives them a ticket with a date to pick up the garments. The prices are displayed on the wall.
“I tell our lawyers it’s no different with our work,” Forrest says. “Of course, qualitative excellence in our work product is a baseline standard, but our team has to also be responsive to clients at intake, give estimates on cost and turn-time, and then deliver on both fronts.”
Before he launched Forrest Firm in 2011, Forrest worked for seven years as a corporate transactional lawyer at two large business law firms in Atlanta and Research Triangle Park. His clients were happy with his services generally, but some were dissatisfied with the unpredictable nature of pricing for legal services. “Several clients gave me the same type of feedback — basically that, ‘We never know what to expect with respect to pricing, and for us that is problematic,’” Forrest recalls.
That was when Forrest began shifting his thinking about pricing, client relationships, and the quality of life he wanted as an attorney with three children at the time (now four).
“Chapter 1 of my career was working at a couple large law firms, which was awesome. I learned from wonderful mentors. But over time, I desired a platform that would allow me to have more flexibility, both in the type of services provided to clients as well as more personal autonomy,” Forrest says.
At Forrest Firm, Forrest is committed to client service by making fees and billing transparent and predictable and by communicating regularly with clients to give estimates. “We slide some leverage back to their side of the table,” he says. “Our goal is for our clients to never be surprised by a bill. In order to do that, we have to be proactive in our communication with our clients and take on some risk.”
That approach has fostered strong client relationships across North Carolina for Forrest Firm — over 2,000 clients have engaged the firm since its inception. As the firm has grown, clients have consistently expressed a desire for the firm to add substantive legal areas to its offerings. The firm has added legal professionals with experience in many areas, including corporate/transactional law, intellectual property, commercial real estate, estate planning and administration, employment law, and litigation/dispute resolution.
Many of the firm’s legal professionals are Carolina Law alumni. Of approximately 35 Forrest Firm lawyers, about half earned UNC law degrees. Some, including Forrest, also earned bachelor’s degrees at Chapel Hill. One Carolina Law graduate is Monica Webb-Shackleford ’06.
“Having Carolina Law alumni as colleagues is wonderful. Working with others who shared the Carolina Law experience certainly lends itself to a supportive work environment,” she says.
Another distinguishing feature of the Forrest Firm is attorneys’ flexibility: the choice of working at one of the firm’s offices daily, stopping at the office only periodically or working from home or otherwise remotely. The firm has eight offices across North Carolina. Forrest’s approach with lawyers is to assess “what legal professionals want, how much they want to work, what kind of quality of life they want, and where they want to be in five years, and determine how to partner with them to get there,” he says.
“That’s the right thing to do, and a lot of times it works out to be good business, too.”
The firm also puts a premium on giving back to communities. Lawyers collectively donated over 1,000 hours of pro bono and volunteer work in 2018. They’re compensated “dollar for dollar for those hours, just like they were billable hours,” Forrest says.
He embraced the giving-back mentality while at Carolina Law.
“UNC provided me an incredible education. I use things I learned there almost every day in my practice,” he says. “It was not just about legal acumen but serving the community and doing the right thing. It has absolutely shaped our firm’s mission to impact clients, our culture and our communities.”
Webb-Shackleford, based in Raleigh, appreciates Forrest’s approach. She was recently named the firm’s pro bono and public service coordinator in addition to her legal practice.
“The Forrest Firm strives to create a positive experience, not only for clients but also for the people that work here. It’s rare to find a law firm that puts an emphasis on both. I value working for what I consider a ‘well-rounded’ firm. We value our clients and provide legal services that exceed their expectations, we value each other, and we strive to make a positive impact” in the communities where the firm does business, she says.
Hiring qualified Carolina Law graduates has been an integral part of Forrest Firm’s growth.
“It’s important to me because I’m from North Carolina and have two degrees from UNC. The public universities are such a value-add to our state. They provide an economically sound way for our residents to obtain higher education,” he says. “I’m always going to be passionate about that.”
-December 26, 2018
A Carolina Law student team won a contest at Duke Law in October using an artificial intelligence software platform to analyze legal contracts. Rana Odeh 3L, Mariam Turner 3L and Dean Yu 3L made up one of the twelve teams competing from Carolina Law, Duke Law and Wake Forest School of Law at the Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Bullpen. Students were trained in the A.I. software, then given a legal research problem to solve.
“It’s like a Westlaw search on steroids,” says Jeffrey Hirsch, Geneva Yeargan Rand Distinguished Professor of Law at UNC. “Students train the software to search a database of contracts for various clauses that were relevant to issues presented in a hypothetical fact pattern. Because they had training for only a few hours the day before, the students used the A.I. software’s more basic capabilities, but the relevant information they were able to pull was far better than more typical software searches.”
The other two UNC teams were 2Ls Anza Abbas, Jennifer Lee and Jacklyn Torrez; and Marion Brown, Nicholas Hall and Yve Wu. The contest was sponsored by the Duke Center on Law & Technology, the Duke Law & Technology Society, and Seal Software, which provided the A.I. software, training and contest problem.
Check out photos on Twitter with #LegalAIShowdown.
-December 26, 2018
UNC School of Law Announces Annual Alumni Association Awards
Four will be recognized for their significant contributions to the legal field.
The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Law Alumni Association will honor three exceptional graduates and an exemplary faculty member at its annual Law Leadership and Awards Dinner May 3, 2019, at the Carolina Inn.
The awards recognize members of the UNC School of Law community who embody the law school’s mission to serve the legal profession, the people and institutions of North Carolina, the nation and the world with ethics and dedication to the cause of justice.
Four Alumni Association Awards will be presented:
John L. Sanders '54
D.C. "Mike" McIntyre '81
Jessica N. Holmes '09
Lissa L. Broome
-January 7, 2019
Minority and female entrepreneurs gathered at the Rizzo Center on October 11 to participate in the iNClusive STEM Innovation Pitch Summit.
The event, co-hosted by the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and the UNC School of Law, allowed entrepreneurs from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds to showcase and pitch their innovations and businesses for the opportunity to receive funding.
The event was open to women, African-Americans, Hispanics and American Indians in STEM fields. Event organizer and assistant professor Anita Jackson, M.D., M.P.H., said the event supported the school and University mission to support underrepresented groups.
“UNC’s first iNClusive STEM Innovation Pitch Summit is an extremely important opportunity, not for innovators from in North Carolina and the University, but for all women and minority ‘STEMpreneurs’ across the country,” said Jackson. “Only 2.7 percent of women and underrepresented minorities receive angel or venture capital funding or get the partners they need to make their companies sustainable. This event tries to support them.”
Applicants with startups or businesses in health sciences, environmental science, engineering and technology fields participated in panel discussions and roundtables and received professional coaching from experienced entrepreneurs and lawyers. A select group of applicants were given the opportunity to pitch their businesses and innovations to a panel of angel investors and venture capitalists for a chance to receive funding.
Minorities are nearly 40 times less likely to receive funding from angel investors or family and friends than their majority counterparts, Jackson said.
“Entrepreneurship is a difficult field, and it’s even tougher for women and minorities,” said Interim Dean Dhiren Thakker, Ph.D. “Being here at today’s event to encourage them and give them the support they need is an important mission of the School and the University.”
The iNClusive STEM Innovation Pitch Summit was the first event of its kind organized by the School, said Thakker, as well as the School’s first collaboration with the UNC School of Law.
“STEM entrepreneurship is the intersection of science, business and law, so it has been great to work with the UNC School of Law on this project,” Thakker said.
Event attendee Rashaad Galloway, co-founder and COO of technology startup Everywhere Ad, said the event was all about access to resources he had been unable to find elsewhere.
“As minorities, the biggest problem that we’ve dealt with is being able to find funding and resources,” Galloway said. “It’s hard being a small startup company, but coming here provides us access to investors as well as the legal counseling that we need to get our company off the ground.”
This story is reposted with permission from pharmacy.unc.edu
-November 13, 2018
Eric L. Muller has been named the 2018-2019 recipient of the Professor Keith Aoki Asian Pacific American Jurisprudence Award.
The Professor Keith Aoki Asian Pacific American Jurisprudence Award was established by the Conference of Asian Pacific American Law Faculty (CAPALF) in honor of the life and achievements of Keith Aoki, who was an outstanding and inspirational teacher, scholar, activist, musician and artist at the University of California, Davis, and the University of Oregon. The award is made annually to an individual who has written or advocated on behalf of Asian Pacific American rights, or explored Asian Pacific American identity, history, or rights through law, art, music, or in other forms.
Muller serves as Dan K. Moore Distinguished Professor of Law in Jurisprudence and Ethics and joined the UNC School of Law faculty in 1998. Muller will be recognized at CAPALF’s conference October 19 in Las Vegas.
-September 25, 2018
This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of Carolina Law.
Carolina Law 2L Samantha Aparicio has spent time in law school helping others through pro bono work.
She’s been involved in projects regarding special immigrant juvenile status proceedings within state court, case law related to the president’s executive orders concerning immigration, and domestic violence protective orders.
Aparicio’s efforts to benefit others have in turn been supported partly by the Johnston Allison & Hord Diversity Scholarship, awarded to a 2L student by the Charlotte-based firm known for commitment to pro bono work and community service. Recipients of the scholarship, awarded to a student “who enhances diversity within the law school community,” must demonstrate a commitment to such work and be interested in practicing law in Charlotte, the endowment agreement states.
“We believe it is of the utmost importance to have diversity in the legal profession because of its ability to cultivate innovation. Diverse thoughts, ideas and opinions on all sides of a matter are vital in order to progress the practice of law and make an impact on the industry,” Johnston Allison & Hord managing partner Darryl J. Shealy '82 says. “UNC School of Law has a highly sophisticated program that we feel fully prepares students for integration into the legal industry upon graduation.”
Johnston Allison & Hord’s leadership in promoting diversity in the legal profession augments Carolina Law’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and has helped Aparicio relieve some student debt.
“It is rare to find a large population of minority graduate students. Scholarships like this encourage other minorities to apply to Carolina Law and feel the support they need to get in and succeed within this school,” says Aparicio, of Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Her pro bono services have given Aparicio invaluable real-world experience and enabled her to develop skills working with fellow law students and attorneys “toward a common goal of helping others,” she says. “I can take those skills wherever my career leads me.”
Munashe Magarira’s career has led him to the North Carolina governor’s office, where he is associate general counsel. He was the first recipient of the Johnston Allison & Hord scholarship. As a pro bono board member at Carolina Law, Magarira ’14 did legal research for the UNC Center for Civil Rights as well as wills clinics and drop-in legal advice clinics for Legal Aid of North Carolina.
In addition to skills he gained through that work, Magarira cites UNC’s Civil Legal Assistance clinic and Research, Reasoning, Writing and Advocacy program, which gave him experience preparing legal pleadings and representing a range of clients.
The scholarship had significant value beyond financial assistance for him.
“It demonstrated Johnston Allison & Hord’s and UNC’s belief in me and their shared commitment to diversity in the legal profession. The legal profession and society as a whole benefit from having lawyers who reflect their clients and bring their unique experiences to the field and their representation,” says Magarira, a 2014 Chapel Hill graduate. He started in a full-time position at Johnston Allison & Hord on graduating from Carolina Law.
For Aparicio, the scholarship reinforced her decision to attend UNC. “I chose Carolina Law because the community is unlike any other law school I have visited,” she says. “It’s truly a family, and I felt that from the moment I walked through the doors.”
-August 15, 2018