RALEIGH — Campbell Law School officially opened its newest pro bono clinic — the Gailor Family Law Litigation Clinic — on Thursday, Oct. 28, with a formal ribbon cutting attended by Raleigh’s Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin and Campbell University Provost Mark Hammond, among other dignitaries.
Dean J. Rich Leonard told the crowd gathered at the Horton-Beckham-Bretsch House, the home of the clinic, that in his nine years at the helm of the law school it has been his job to keep a balance between teaching future lawyers substantive law and offering them experiential learning opportunities.
“Today we dedicate our sixth clinic,” he said. “Starting a new clinic is a serious matter. It requires designing an experience that is pedagogically sound for my students but also meets the unmet needs of the underserved populations in our city and region. We looked carefully at the Chief Justice’s Commission on Access to Justice study and what we heard over and over again is that the most pressing need for legal services among those who could not find a private lawyer or be served by Legal Aid is in the area of family law. So we responded.”
The Gailor Family Law Litigation Clinic is made possible through the generous donation of $250,000 from family lawyer Carole Gailor, making her the first woman to have a clinic named after her at Campbell Law. Additional participating donors include law school alumna Shelby Duffy Benton ’85, the North Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and North State Bank.
Gailor said, “Rich laid out his vision … and that’s what resonated with me. First was the ability to provide low-income people in the community with family law services in court and out of court. When I was practicing law we did pro bono cases but it was never enough. And with people whose lives are shattered and broken when they are dealing with grief and fear and anger would have to navigate a very unforgiving legal system without skilled legal help is nearly impossible and it ends up with poor results. So this clinic is is providing that help for our community in a way that is extremely significant and dear to my soul.”
Gailor explained at the law firm she founded in 1994, now Gailor Hunt Davis Taylor and Gibbs PLLC, she was able to mentor many young women attorneys in the practice of family law in addition to providing a place that was child friendly for them and their growing families. “Now the clinic will provide a place to mentor young lawyers-to-be interested in family law practice,” she said.
The clinic, directed by family law attorney Professor Richard Waugaman III ’12, has already served 61 clients to date.
“When the Access to Justice Commission determined the biggest area of need is in family law it is especially true across the state and especially in Wake County,” he said. “And at the same time the report was coming out, I was blessed for the opportunity to return to Campbell where I spent seven years as an undergraduate and a law student.”
Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin, who helped cut the ribbon, told the crowd of about 50 gathered for the celebration: “Sixty-one cases. That’s all you need to hear. Thank you Carole and Richard for doing the right thing and thank you for all you are doing … that’s what makes Raleigh a special community and that’s what today is all about.”
The clinic addresses challenging family law issues including divorce, property distribution, paternity, child custody and child support among other family law issues where it is often difficult to find representation for low-income individuals.
While working in the clinic, students learn a client-centered approach to the practice of family law by engaging in client counseling, case strategy, negotiation and, if necessary, assist with trial of family law cases under the “Student Practice Rule.” The clinic also provides students with the opportunity to work on various types of family law cases with several different clients.
Campbell Law is continually developing and expanding its clinical programs. All six legal clinics – Stubbs Bankruptcy, Innovate Capital Business Law, Blanchard Community Law, Restorative Justice, the Shipman & Wright Sports Law Clinic and now the Gailor Family Law Litigation – provide students with practical, hands-on experience while offering valuable services to low-income members of our community.
“This clinic fits within the mission of the university and Campbell Law because it provides students with the opportunity to learn practical lawyering skills while providing legal assistance to a vulnerable and underserved population,” Leonard added. “It also serves as an effective recruiting tool that is certain to draw future students interested in practicing family law to the law school.”
Find more photos of the event at this link.