Campbell Law alumni lead N.C. Court of Appeals with five judges, chief

Aerial view photo of the Raleigh campus with downtown in the background

RALEIGH – Campbell Law School boasts a total of five alumni currently serving on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, more than any other law school in the state. The Court’s Chief Judge Donna Stroud ’88 is the state’s second-highest ranking judge after N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Newby.

“It is an enormous tribute to the school that a third of the Court of Appeals are our graduates,” said Dean J. Rich Leonard.

So, what is it about a Campbell Law education that produces such great candidates for the Court of Appeals? We asked each of our alumni currently sitting on the court just that, as well as what the university motto, “leading with purpose,” means to them.

Chief Judge Stroud, who also teaches as an adjunct professor at the law school, was elected to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in November 2006 and re-elected without opposition in 2014. She was appointed as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals effective January 1, 2021. Prior to joining the Court of Appeals, she served as a Family Court Judge in Wake County District Court, where she was elected in 2004.

Chief Judge Stroud credits her professors at Campbell Law for helping her understand the obligation attorneys and judges have to the community and legal system at-large.

“As a student at Campbell, I had the honor and privilege to serve as a research assistant for Professor (and then-Dean) Leary Davis and Professor Thomas Anderson. In working with them, as well as in my classes with other professors, I learned the legal profession requires more than hard work, attention to detail, and faithfulness to the law in a particular case. Attorneys and judges also have an obligation to work to improve our legal system and our communities and to exemplify the highest ethical standards.”  

Chief Judge Stroud added, “Campbell Law school strives to cultivate lawyers who will be ‘servant-leaders.’ For judges, ‘leading with purpose’ means working to serve the people of North Carolina by faithfully applying the law and striving to provide justice for everyone who comes before our courts.”

Judge John M. Tyson ’79 was elected to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in 2014. Previously, Judge Tyson, who also teaches as an adjunct professor at the law school, served as an elected judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals from 2001 until 2009 and as a Recall Judge from 2009 to 2014. Judge Tyson’s more than 40 years of professional experience also includes serving the private practice of law and senior level corporate real estate development and counsel positions with three national corporations.

Judge Tyson says he believes Campbell Law’s commitment to offering rigorous courses taught by professors who are expert practitioners in their fields results in the competency of the law school’s alumni and their ability to become Court of Appeals judges.

“Campbell Law insisted upon rigorous courses for students to master core competencies essential to represent clients and practice law,” Judge Tyson said. These courses were taught by faculty, who were experienced and expert practitioners in the areas they taught. Campbell Law graduates were competent to immediately represent clients. This foundation is essential for a Judge on the Court of Appeals, whose job requires review of a wide range of civil, criminal, and administrative laws and procedure.”

Tyson added that, for him, “Leading with purpose means insisting on substance over formality, preserving freedoms, and protecting individual liberties.”

Judge Allegra Collins ‘06 was elected as a judge to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in 2018. In the six years prior to joining the court, she taught as an adjunct professor and then served as Clinical Assistant Professor of Law at Campbell Law, teaching Judicial Writing, Legal Writing and Remedies. She also served as interim Director of the Legal Writing Program, Director of the Externship Program and as a faculty advisor for the Campbell Law Review.

Judge Collins credits Campbell Law’s emphasis on its award-winning trial advocacy and moot court programs with at least some of her success.

“My participation in Campbell’s moot court program has had a lasting impact on my career,” Judge Collins said. “Trying out for the team during the intramural competition was the first time I really understood what appellate advocacy was — until then, I had only been familiar with trial advocacy. Writing the briefs and arguing at the various competitions was certainly a highlight of my law school experience; because of those experiences, I knew I wanted to work in the field of appellate advocacy.”

Judge Collins added, “To me, leading with purpose means leading with thoughtfulness, grace, skill and kindness.”

Judge Tobias (Toby) Hampson ’02 was elected to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in 2018. Prior to joining the Court, Judge Hampson was a partner at the Raleigh firm of Wyrick, Robbins, Yates & Ponton where he led the firm’s Appellate Practice group. He began his career at the North Carolina Court of Appeals clerking for Judges K. Edward Greene, Wanda Bryant and Bob C. Hunter. He also serves on the law school’s Board of Visitors. 

Judge Hampson says the practical application of legal skills at Campbell Law is critical to becoming an appellate judge.

“Campbell’s focus not only on providing a high-level legal education but also on the practical application of legal skills to the real world instilled in me a stark recognition that the work we do as lawyers and as judges does not exist only in some hypothetical vacuum, but directly impacts the lives of real people and the law,” he said.

And for Judge Hampson, leading with purpose has dual meanings: “It embodies the example Campbell lawyers, as a whole, have always set as leaders in professionalism, collegiality, and legal skill; but it also means finding something you are passionate about that truly drives you—in the profession, the community, or elsewhere—and working to use the energy from that drive to make a sincere impact.”

Judge Jeffery K. Carpenter ’03 was elected to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in November 2020. In 2016, Judge Carpenter was appointed to the Superior Court in Union County by Gov. Pat McCrory. He later became the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge for Union County. Before becoming a judge, he was in private practice of law and served the State of North Carolina as a state trooper for approximately six years. 

Judge Carpenter also credits Campbell Law’s trial advocacy program, among other classes, in contributing to his legal path that eventually led him to serving on the appellate court.

“Some of the most valuable classes that contributed to my success in practice, gave me perspective as a Superior Court Judge, and give me perspective as a judge on the Court of Appeals are Trial Advocacy, District Court Practice, Workers Compensation, Real Property Planning, Real Estate Transactions, and others that provided me with an opportunity to learn how seemingly abstract concepts taught in law school applied in real world applications,” he said. “The common thread in all the ‘practical application’ classes is the instruction was received from adjunct professors who were experts in their practice area. The adjunct professors’ instruction and practical tips provided me with an entirely different level of understanding.”

Judge Carpenter added, “The mortar that holds the core education and practical education blocks together is the Campbell Law alumni community. Campbell Law alumni are like a big family and have always been willing to share their advice and wisdom with me over the years.”


Since its founding in 1976, Campbell Law has developed lawyers who possess moral conviction, social compassion, and professional competence, and who view the law as a calling to serve others. Among its accolades, the school has been recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) as having the nation’s top Professionalism Program and by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers for having the nation’s best Trial Advocacy Program. Campbell Law boasts more than 4,200 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. In 2021, Campbell Law is celebrating 45 years of graduating legal leaders and a dozen years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.