N.C. First Lady Kristin Cooper ‘82 to offer Campbell Law’s commencement address

Photo of N.C. First Lady Kristin Cooper

RALEIGH — Kristin Cooper, First Lady of North Carolina and 1982 graduate of Campbell Law School, will offer the commencement address at Campbell University Law School’s 45th annual hooding and graduation ceremony on Friday, May 12, Dean J. Rich Leonard has announced.

The celebration is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Dorton Arena at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.

“I am s0 pleased and honored that our First Lady has agreed to speak at the hooding ceremony for our next generation of Campbell Law leaders,” Leonard said.

In December 2019, Cooper served as commencement speaker for Campbell University’s Winter Commencement at the John W. Pope Convocation Center in Buies Creek. In addition to serving as commencement speaker, Cooper was the recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, which “honors those whose strength of character and civic contributions” reflect the life of the 19th Century philanthropist. 

As First Lady, Cooper has used her platform to champion the well-being of children in North Carolina, focusing primarily on issues of foster care, child abuse and neglect, childhood hunger, early childhood development and literacy, and access to the arts and nature. Cooper’s attention to these causes underscores how the integration of these issues stems from the effects of adverse childhood experiences, trauma, toxic stress and poverty.

“Leading with purpose, as I know you’ve already learned here, may call you someday to give your time and talents to someone who needs it, even if they don’t necessarily deserve it,” Cooper told the graduates.

In addition to the J.D. degrees, U.K.’s Nottingham Trent University Law School will also confer degrees on the Master of Laws (LL.M.) graduates, who will be hooded by Deputy Dean Matthew Homewood. This novel degree is earned through a collaboration between Campbell Law and Nottingham Law schools. 

The daughter of an artist and a Vietnam veteran and physician, Cooper grew up in Oklahoma City along with her three younger sisters. She attended public schools, earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Oklahoma, and then attended Campbell Law School in North Carolina. After graduating law school, she worked as a staff attorney to the legislature in Oklahoma and in North Carolina.

Cooper has served as a Guardian ad Litem for children in Wake County since 2003, using her legal training to represent foster children in court. She and other volunteers assure that at-risk children do not become neglected or abandoned. Cooper also served two terms on the North Carolina Arts Council, and serves on the law school’s Board of Visitors and the Raleigh Little Theatre Advisory Board.

She and Gov. Roy Cooper raised their three daughters in North Carolina and each is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


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 4,700 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. 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.