A Litigator at Heart Finds a Great Fit Working for a County

Karen, a white woman with dark brown hair, wears a pale blue shirt, a black blazer and a pearl necklace.By Karen Richards

I have always had an interest in public service. My journey to the New Hanover County Attorney’s Office started as a staff attorney for Legal Aid of North Carolina. From there, I served stints as an assistant district attorney and as a staff attorney for New Hanover County Department of Social Services (DSS) before joining the County Attorney’s Office.

I have been a litigator for my entire career. My path crossed with former New Hanover Deputy County Attorney Sharon Huffman while I was with DSS, and I was intrigued. I was not sure what a county attorney’s role entailed, so I made a cold call to New Hanover County Attorney Wanda Copley, who spent forty years in that position.

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A Trailblazer Takes a Bow

Linda Miles

By Nicolette Fulton

Linda Miles is humble about the remarkable impact she has made on the practice of law in North Carolina. She constantly looks to find success, for her clients and for others, and she is a beacon of light for all. Her professionalism, quiet excellence and demonstration of strength over her 50-year career are goals every attorney should strive to achieve.

Linda has represented local governments for over 50 years. She recently retired as the attorney for the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA), where she served for 15 years. Before CFPUA, Linda served the City of Greensboro for over 30 years, including her role as City Attorney from 1999 through 2007. Linda was the first woman appointed to the position of City Attorney in North Carolina. Her other notable service for local governments includes representing the towns of Granite Quarry, Rockwell, and Faith, as well as the Rowan County Department of Social Services.

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Externs! Externs! Read All About Them!

Matt, a man with light brown hair, wears a pale blue shirt, orange tie, and blue jacket.By Matt Pentz 

Externs. What are they? Why should your organization consider being a placement site for them? And, what are things to keep in mind when serving as such a placement site? Keep reading to find out!

What are “externs” (and how do they differ from “interns”)?

The American Bar Association (“ABA”) defines the term as follows: “Externships are non-compensated positions in settings outside a law school, for which students receive academic credit.” The receipt of academic credit seems to be at the core of what makes an extern an extern, so that is what appears to be their defining feature and what sets them apart from traditional interns. As a result, the answer I give when asked how externs differ from interns is that “an extern is an intern that is paid in experience.”

While we are on the subject of definitions, I want to clarify the meanings of the terms “externship program” and “externship placement program” as I use them. “Externship programs” are the programs through which law schools offer law students the opportunity to be externs and the academic credit externs receive. “Externship placement programs” are the programs organizations set up to host externs within their organizations.

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My Internship with the NCDOJ: A Transformative Experience

By Abigail Jenkins Abigail, a white woman with curly red hair, wears a black blouse.

In Summer 2023, I had the opportunity to intern with the Education Division at the North Carolina Department of Justice. I was initially drawn to the internship because of my background in education. Before law school, I was a high school history teacher in North Carolina public schools for six years. For those who know me, it goes without saying that public service and public education are deeply important to me.

The Education Division at the NCDOJ defends North Carolina’s public institutions of higher education in civil actions. Higher education law was interesting to me, as I came to law school from a career in secondary education. The range of cases that the Education Division handles is vast. Although education law may sound niche, there are so many types of law that an education lawyer confronts. Educational institutions at all levels serve the people of North Carolina in ways far beyond merely educating the next generation (as if that is not a high enough task on its own).

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Lawyer in Training Finds the “Happy Job” . . . in City Hall

By Cassandra Saxton

Going into law school, I always intended to practice in the public sector. In fact, my mother and I had a dream about it right before I decided to go to law school. However, I had no idea what practicing as a public sector attorney would look like. It wasn’t until I had the privilege of interning with the City of Greensboro’s City Attorney’s Office that my vision for a career in government and public service began to take shape.

The decision to embark on a career in the public sector was deeply rooted in my desire to contribute to the betterment of society on a large scale. I had various ideas of what such a career could be like, yet when I entered law school, the realm of public service law remained an abstract concept, and my precise role within it was far from clear. During my first trimester at Elon, I wrote down what I was looking for in a career. I wanted my legal career to:

  • Allow me to have my hands in various pots at once;
  • Encompass work that has a tangible impact on the surrounding community;
  • Include transactional work, projects, and potentially some litigation;
  • Provide a healthy work-life balance; and
  • Offer secure and consistent benefits (i.e., salary instead of fees, insurance benefits, etc.)

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A Summer Intern Receives Lessons on How to Be a Good Federal Prosecutor

Zaria, a Black woman, has black hair and is wearing a white blouse and black jacket.By Zaria Graham 

This summer, I had the pleasure of interning at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina. To preface, the United States Attorney is responsible for representing the federal government in virtually all litigation that involves the United States. In the Western District of North Carolina, U.S. Attorney Dena King leads a number of Assistant United States Attorneys and support staff in both Charlotte and Asheville. I cannot speak highly enough of this experience, which was simultaneously challenging, rewarding, and eye-opening. Despite the serious nature of the work, I am able to say that the ten weeks I spent at the United States Attorney’s Office were also fun. It was hard to go back to school!

As an intern for the office, I was able to work on a number of exciting projects. These projects included writing a sentencing memorandum, a prosecution memorandum in preparation for grand jury, and a brief on a particular issue requested by a judge after trial. I also helped with projects that were more investigative — for example, watching police officer body-worn camera footage to note any possible Fourth Amendment issues that could have occurred during a traffic stop and surveillance footage of a robbery, noting timestamps that may be useful for playback during a hearing.

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Swinging for Justice: Navigating the Fairways of Law in a Public Defender’s Internship

Alexandra, a white woman with blond hair, wears a dark grey blouse and matching blazer.

By Alexandra Bentley  

Prior to entering law school, I served as a police officer for seven years, witnessing firsthand the impact of legal representation and developing a strong desire to advocate for justice. After my 2L year at Elon Law, I had the incredible opportunity to intern at the Forsyth County Public Defender’s office this summer. This experience not only provided me with valuable insights into the inner workings of the court system but also deepened my understanding of the importance of government and public service law. In my spare time this summer, I also embraced new challenges by learning to play golf which helped me frame this new experience.

Picture teeing off at Augusta National – a scenario much like delving into the complexities of the public defender’s office. My journey from being a police officer to a law student set the stage for a unique perspective. This perspective allowed me to approach my internship with the precision and dedication of a seasoned golfer.

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How To Find Federal, State, and Local Government Jobs

ByKayla, a woman with auburn hair, is pictured in a white shirt and dark blazer in front of a dark background. Kayla Britt

Did you know that there are a variety of websites where you can find government jobs in North Carolina? Whether you are interested in federal, state, or local government, these resources are readily available to you!  While this list is beneficial to all attorneys in our state, it is particularly useful for law students and young lawyers.

State of NC

This website provides a list of careers with the state of North Carolina. Jobs range from the different North Carolina Departments (i.e., Department of Justice, Department of Transportation, Department of Revenue, etc.), Administrative Office of the Courts, Innocence Inquiry Commission, Office of State Human Resources, district and superior courts across the state, and magistrate positions, just to name a few.

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Government & Public Sector Section Awards Four Summer Scholarships

ByKayla, a woman with auburn hair, is pictured in a white shirt and dark blazer in front of a dark background. Kayla Britt

The North Carolina Bar Association’s Government & Public Sector Section annually awards scholarships to law students serving in unpaid summer internships in federal, state, or local government offices throughout North Carolina.

Eligible candidates are currently enrolled in an accredited ABA law school, are working without compensation in a government law office located in North Carolina at least one-half of the summer of 2023. Successful candidates demonstrate a commitment to serving in government or public sector law offices. Each recipient must write an article describing their experience and the benefits of their summer internship. Each article will be considered for publication on the NCBarBlog.

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Government & Public Sector Section 20th Anniversary: Part 2

Terri, a woman with brown hair, wears a black, white and gold blouse and is pictured smiling.By Terri Jones

In Part 1, you were introduced to the past Chairs of the Government & Public Sector Section. I had the privilege of interviewing seventeen past chairs of the section. In addition to telling us what they remember most about their time as chair, they also responded to these three questions:

What impact has the GPS Section had on your career in public service?

What do you tell law students about careers in public service?

What could the GPS Section do that it has not done already?

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