Campbell Law School welcomes Class of 2026

Photo of Campbell Law Dean Rich Leonard leading new students on Court Crawl

RALEIGH — The first-year law students entering the 2023 academic year at Campbell Law School represent a significant milestone. 

These 189 1L students come from 68 different undergraduate institutions and 13 different states, including California, New York and Florida. 

It’s also one of the most diverse classes to enter the law school with nearly 25 percent of its members identifying as students of color.

Dean J. Rich Leonard talked about the law school’s award-winning trial advocacy program, its extensive externship and internships, its growing pro bono clinics, dual degrees and international opportunities during his welcome remarks.  

“All those things make this a special place,” he said. “I see my job as dean as keeping a balance between our rigorous curriculum and very vibrant external opportunities.”

Here’s the Class of 2026 by the numbers:

  • 35 students are from out of state 
  • 105 women
  • 12 served in military
  • 175 traditional students (i.e. full-time)
  • 14 Campbell FLEX students

The majority of incoming students call the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, N.C. State University, UNC-Wilmington, UNC-Charlotte, East Carolina University, Appalachian State University, Campbell University, and Wake Forest University their alma maters in that order. 

On Aug. 11, the students took the Professionalism Oath delivered by North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge Michael Stading ‘06 in the morning followed by the Dean’s annual afternoon Campbell Law Court Crawl — a tour of all of the local, state and federal courts in downtown Raleigh. 

“When I was in law school, I ended up picking two mentors who are still my mentors,” Stading said. “Wise counsel will take you a long way. You may have anxiety now … but law school is like basic training: Enjoy it, make friends for life because these are the people you are going to be calling on after you graduate and have fun the next three years.”

He told the group they had done well when it came to choosing which law school to attend because “Campbell Law lawyers are more prepared for real life, they stand out.”

Finally, Stading gave the incoming students three rules for new law students: 1) Don’t say anything you’ll regret (48 hours later; 2) Play smart games, win smart prizes (or conversely play stupid games, win stupid prizes; and 3) Play chess, not checkers. “Play games where the odds are in your favor. I have found that works best. Do things where your strengths lie,” he advised. “Think about the long game, not just your next move. Always think down the road and life will get better for you if you do that.”

More Orientation photos can be found at this link.

Orientation for Campbell Law’s newest students included attending instructional meetings with faculty and staff, including participating in the Campbell Advantage orientation program, the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA) members and AccessLex representatives.

On Aug. 4, the new students and their families enjoyed a social BBQ dinner hosted by the Dean at Haywood Hall. Find photos from the dinner at this link.


Since its founding in 1976, Campbell Law School 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 4,800 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. In 2023, Campbell Law is celebrating 45 years of graduating legal leaders and 14 years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.