Local News

Foundation makes $1M grant to Campbell law school

Posted September 30, 2008 5:35 a.m. EDT
Updated September 30, 2008 6:54 p.m. EDT

— The A.J. Fletcher Foundation on Tuesday announced a $1 million challenge grant to help establish a legal clinic for low-income people inside Campbell University's law school, which is moving to Raleigh next year.

The foundation is led by Jim and Barbara Goodmon. Jim Goodmon is president and chief executive of Capitol Broadcasting Co., which owns WRAL.

"We are working in the area of social justice, (and) a legal clinic for this school could be a way to kick things off," Jim Goodmon said. "There are a lot of people that need legal assistance that can't afford it. Working with the (law school) professors and other lawyers, the students will get experience being advocates and working with clients."

Officials with Campbell's Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law said as many as 80,000 Wake County residents live at or below the poverty line and could be eligible for the pro bono service.

"This has a very pointed purpose to send a message (that) we want to be a different kind of lawyers," said Melissa Essary, dean of the law school. "(Our students are) always thinking about creating a better society."

Britt Davis, the law school's director of development, said the Fletcher Foundation's challenge grant would be made in four annual installments, and school officials are targeting alumni and other individuals and groups to raise the needed matching funds.

About 70 percent of the law school's 2,800 graduates practice in North Carolina, including about 500 in Wake County, they said.

The law school plans to move next year from Campbell's campus in Buies Creek to the former Hillsborough Place office building in downtown Raleigh.

Raleigh is the largest state capital in the U.S. without a law school.

"Raleigh is going to be knocked over when the law school moves in," Essary said.

The move from rural Harnett County will give Campbell's 400 or so law school students more access to internships with law firms and clerkships with judges, school administrators said.

Davis said the $2 million raised through the challenge grant would help pay down Campbell's debt on the costs associated with the move – keeping tuition as low as possible – and pay for the operating costs of the legal clinic.

"It's very good to have these positive things happening with all this (economic) uncertainty," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said.