Local News

Campbell holds last law school graduation in Buies Creek

Posted May 8, 2009 12:31 p.m. EDT
Updated May 8, 2009 3:47 p.m. EDT

— Ninety-five students became the newest alumni of Campbell University's law school and the last to receive their degrees at the Buies Creek campus after a graduation ceremony Friday morning.

"We have a very, very storied tradition here for sure. The law school goes through a big change next year," graduate Sam Fleder said. "We're standing on the shoulders of giants. Our predecessors have really done a lot in this state."

Next fall, students of the 33-year-old Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law will attend classes at the Hillsborough Place, a renovated, 107,000-square-foot office building at Hillsborough and Dawson streets in downtown Raleigh.

Members of the law school's first graduating class were at Friday's graduation "to bring this era on campus to closure," said John Roberson, Campbell's vice-president of marketing and planning.

"Hard to believe it's been 30 years since we graduated," reminisced state Court of Appeals Judge John Tyson, a member of the class of '79. "And it's particularly meaningful for today to be the last law school graduation at Campbell, so it's a very significant day for all the members of the charter class."

New alumni said rural Harnett County gave some advantages to the law school – which the American Bar Association has honored for having the nation’s best Trial Advocacy and Professionalism programs.

"It forces you to study. There's nothing else to do but study for your law degree," graduate Carolina Weeks said.

"(There are) great people here in Buies Creek. There's something to be said for this small community," she added.

University officials said the law school was relocated, in part, to give students more access to internships with law firms and clerkships with judges. The Raleigh Division of the North Carolina Business Court will move into the same building, making Campbell one of only a handful of law schools nationwide to house a working court.

"(It'll be) so much easier. The students will be able to go to the (Court of) Appeals, the Supreme Court, trial court, the state agencies – lots of different opportunities right there within walking distance," said appelate judge Donna Stroud, who is a Campbell alumna.

"It's going to be a win-win for all of us to have our students  right here," said Anne Marie Calabria, also an appellate judge and Campbell law school graduate

About 70 percent of the law school's nearly 3,000 graduates practice in North Carolina, including about 500 in Wake County.

As for their own futures, the last Buies Creek law school graduates said they're searching for ways to ride out a rough economy.

"My area of expertise? Hopefully, employment," Fleder joked. "I'm just looking forward to being a lawyer, getting thrown whatever work I can get."

And then? "Looking forward to being successful," he finished.