Government & Public Sector Section’s Annual Scholarship

Kayla, a woman with dark brown hair, wears a pale pink blouse, bright pink jacket, and gold fairy pin on the lapel.By Kayla Britt

The North Carolina Bar Association’s Government & Public Sector, Criminal Justice, and Zoning, Planning & Land Use Sections are pleased to solicit applications for the 2024 Government & Public Sector Section Annual Summer Internship Scholarship! We anticipate awarding six $1,000 scholarships to law students completing their summer internships in a government entity.

Eligible candidates are currently enrolled in an accredited ABA law school, are working without compensation in a government law office (i.e., city, county, state, or federal) in North Carolina at least one half of the summer of 2024, and demonstrate a commitment to serving in government or public sector law offices. The scholarship money must go directly to the recipient. Each recipient must write an article describing their experience and the benefits of their summer internship. Each article will be considered for publication in the online NCBarBlog platform hosted by the Government & Public Sector Section.

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The Pragmatic and Transformational Impacts of Leadership Development in the Legal Profession

Clare, a white law student with shoulder-length brown hair, wears a grey button-down shirt, black jacket and pearl earrings.

Clare Magee

Benjamin, a white man with a brown beard, wears a white shirt, gold tie and black jacket. He stands with a brick building behind him.

Benjamin Rigney

By Clare Magee and Benjamin Rigney

Lawyers are facing increasingly difficult questions about what it means to be part of the legal profession in the twenty-first century. How can lawyers navigate shifting generational dynamics in the workplace? What can lawyers do to adapt to the advent of legal tech and artificial intelligence? How should lawyers advise clients in an environment of rapidly evolving jurisprudence in a number of practice areas?

According to Benjamin Rigney, Assistant Director for Leadership and Character in the Law School at Wake Forest School of Law, lawyers can begin to answer some of these questions by cultivating character-based leadership practices within the legal profession.

Many lawyers view themselves as specialists and technicians – masters of black letter rules and standard forms whose contributions to the legal profession are defined by what they can do rather than who they are. Certainly, knowledge of the law is foundational to the profession. But Rigney suggests that leadership is an equally important component of lawyering: “Lawyers are influencers in the sense that so much of a lawyer’s work involves guiding people towards making a decision. People come to lawyers because they want advice – we are counselors at law.”

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A Letter to My Younger Self

Patti, a white woman with shoulder-length blond hair, wears a blue suit. In the background is blurred foliage. By Patti Ramseur

Dear Patti (age 26),

You just graduated law school, got married, and started your clerkship with Judge Walker. You will learn so much from Judge Walker! He is a great mentor and will continue to be an important part of your life for many years to come. You will enjoy your DINK (double income no kids) status, while you try to learn how to be a lawyer and focus on tackling the significant law student debt you incurred. Be diligent in paying down your law student loans, but always remember this is an important part of what makes you who you are. It makes you truly appreciate the opportunity to be a lawyer and part of this noble profession.

Are you sitting? You are currently the president of this amazing group of attorneys, the North Carolina Bar Association! I know that’s difficult for you to imagine. The NCBA will be critical to your growth and development, both professionally and personally. So jump in (soon!) and participate at every opportunity you get. The current Chair of the NCBA’s Young Lawyer Division asked me to write a letter to my younger lawyer self, so here are a few tips for you: Read more

Unlocking Opportunities: Duke Law Students Create Lasting Memories in Externships and Pro Bono Projects

John, a white man with brown hair and a beard, wears a white shirt, peach tie, and navy suit.Surya, a man with black hair, wears a white shirt, pale grey suit, and teal tie. Christina, a woman with short, dark brown hair, wears a black suit. By John Godfrey Jr., Surya Korrapati, and Christina Trepczynski

In the dynamic world of law, where traditional classroom learning meets real-world application, externships and pro bono projects play pivotal roles in shaping future legal professionals. This month, we had the privilege of interviewing three law students who are gaining experience outside the classroom, either through volunteering for pro bono causes or gaining course credit in legal externships.  By highlighting their work, we hope to provide some insight as to how you can secure an externship or find the right pro bono project — and the sorts of skills you may gain along the way.

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A Letter to My Younger Self

By Chazle’ N. Woodley

Dear New Associate,

You finished law school, studied for the bar exam, passed the bar exam, and now you’re about to embark on your journey as an attorney!

Congratulations! You did it, and now you’re about to engage in doing the work of a real lawyer. You’re probably feeling a flood of emotions: excited, eager, nervous, curious, and maybe even worried about what’s to come.

As an attorney who recently wrapped up my first year of practice, I am eager to share what I’ve learned in my first year as an associate in the hopes that it will alleviate stress and help you feel prepared for what’s to come. Read more

Searching for Volunteers for the Grab-a-Coffee Program: Spring 2024

Alex Gwynn is a Black woman with black hair and brown eyes. She is wearing a red and white shirt, black glasses, and dark jacket.Will, a white man with brown hair, wears a white shirt, blue and yellow striped tie, and black suit.Matt, a white man with brown hair, wears a pale blue shirt, grey suit, and mint green tie.By Alex Gwynn, Matt Meinel and Will Robertson

Do you have time to grab a cup of coffee? Instead of taking this one to go, how about spending thirty meaningful minutes with a future lawyer?

A half hour of your time is all we need to make this program a success! We are seeking attorney volunteers to connect with a law student and pass on the valuable insights you have about succeeding in law school and entering the practice of law. If you would like to volunteer, please fill out this attorney sign-up form. Law students can sign up with this student sign-up form. If you have signed up during a previous GaC session, you will need to sign up again.

GaC is a statewide program that pairs law students with practicing attorneys based on their practice area(s) of interest. Discussion topics may include:

  • what it is like to practice in your current area of law;

  • the path you took to get where you are; and

  • general advice on law school or the first year in practice.

The program is meant to be an informal, one-time, thirty-minute meeting. Attorneys and students have the option of meeting virtually or in person.

Sign-ups close on February 9. Volunteers will be notified by email with more information once they are paired with a law student.

To learn more about the Grab-a-Coffee program, check out this blog post and short YouTube video from prior participants in the program.

We look forward to a successful spring of networking!

Alex Gwynn and Will Robertson serve as co-chairs of the NCBA YLD Law Student Outreach Committee. Matt Meinel serves as the administrator of the NCBA Grab-a-Coffee Program. 

Voices of Democracy: Law Day 2024

Sidney, a Black woman with black hair, wears a white blouse, black jacket and glasses.By Sidney Thomas and Nicholas Sorensen

The American Bar Association hosts Law Day each year on the first Friday in May to celebrate the role of law in our society and to cultivate a deeper understanding of the legal profession. Law Day 2024 will focus on “democracy and encouraging Americans to participate in the 2024 elections by deepening their understanding of the electoral process; discussing issues in honest and civil ways; turning out to vote; and, finally, helping to move the country forward after free and fair election.” The North Carolina Bar Association’s Law Week and Liberty Bell Committee hosts several competitions to recognize students and legal professionals throughout the State who have dedicated their time to pursuing justice and being a voice for all. The committee is excited to announce that we will be hosting this year’s celebration on Friday, May 3, 2024. Please see a list of competitions for students and legal professionals below. Read more

A Letter to My Younger Self

S. Collins Saint is a person with short, golden-brown hair. They wear a pale blue button down shirt, a navy and green striped tie, a navy suit, and brown circular glasses.By S. Collins Saint

Dear Younger Sully,

There’s so much I wish I could share with you, especially about navigating the world as a young attorney. Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way, including things that have become increasingly important — physical and mental health. Plus, there are some lessons from battles you’ve yet to face.

Firstly, let’s talk about your career. It’s incredible that you’ve chosen this path — it’s challenging, demanding, and rewarding. Remember, mistakes will happen, and they’re not a reflection of your worth. Learn from them, adapt, and grow. Embrace every opportunity to learn, whether from victories or setbacks. Every case, every client, every experience will shape you into the attorney you’re meant to become. Some things you have kept in your quiver through every stage of your life will continue to help you: your passion and compassion, your steadfast work ethic, and your ability to build connections with anyone you meet. You are better equipped than you know.

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Clear the Queue

Brad, a white man with brown hair, wears a white shirt and black suit.By Brad Piland

The holidays and new year can be a time of heightened emotions and contrasting circumstances. Joy and plenty abound alongside anxiety and need. Throughout December and January, the NCBA YLD Pro Bono Committee and the North Carolina Bar Foundation will strive to satisfy one of these needs through the Clear the Queue initiative.

NC Free Legal Answers offers a no-cost avenue for those seeking legal answers but who face limitations in their options to seek advice from traditional legal sources. The program allows qualifying users to submit their questions to an online forum where pro bono attorneys answer their inquiries. Whereas many pro bono opportunities require both the client and attorney to meet at a specific location at a specific time, NC Free Legal Answers conveniently allows those seeking assistance and the attorneys answering questions to do so from anywhere at any time. All that’s needed is an internet connection.

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Ten Key Points to Remember Throughout Your Career

Mike, a white man with brown hair, wears a white shirt, blue tie, and black jacket.By Mike McIntyre 

1. The most important case you have is the one sitting in front of you, because that client is there for that moment, trusting that you are going to invest yourself in his or her case.

2. Your greatest source of referrals is your fellow lawyers. Value your relationship with other members of the bar.

3. It is always easier and quicker to ask one of your senior partners a question and have them answer your concern than to spend two hours trying to look up an answer. It saves the partner and you time and money—and lessens frustration for both of you as well! Remember that older lawyers were once younger lawyers, and they actually don’t mind answering questions, because they have been there before you!

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