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Law school welcomes director of outreach

Professor Beth Hopkins

Beth Hopkins has been doing pro bono work for as long as she can remember.

“My grandmother did fundraising for a black orphanage, the Virginia Baptist Children’s Home near Richmond (Va.), so we were always involved in projects,” she said.

Hopkins is the new director of outreach and professor of practice at the Wake Forest University School of Law.  The American Bar Association has mandated more pro bono programs for law schools, and as a result Dean Blake D. Morant created the role of a part-time director to coordinate the law school’s pro bono activities among other community outreach efforts.

Hopkins will teach a business drafting course at the law school in the spring and is teaching a class in the university’s history department this fall called “Race and the Courts.”

In her role as outreach director, Hopkins says she intends to build upon the foundation that Associate Dean of Academics Suzanne Reynolds and her faculty and student Pro Bono committee established.

“We will direct the energy and enthusiasm of our law students into the program that will benefit the community and provide a rewarding experience for the law students.”

“We will direct the energy and enthusiasm of our law students into the program that will benefit the community and provide a rewarding experience for the law students,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins wants to begin with a needs assessment of the community by talking to community leaders to see where the law school’s Pro Bono Committee can be of assistance.

“We’re going to take what they have been doing up to the next level so that we can have a meaningful program and expand what students and the committee did last year,” she said.

The committee has been very involved in a number of pro bono efforts including VITA, Wills for Heroes, domestic violence advocacy and Guardian ad Litem. Additional areas Hopkins plans to explore are veterans’ affairs and the Lumbee Indians. “There a lot of issues in our community and we want to see where we can be of the most benefit and service to the people who live in this area,” she said. “We have a smart, talented group of students who are energetic. I am also impressed by the commitment of the dean, the administration and the faculty.”

Hopkins has been talking to area law firms, the local bar association, general counsels of local corporations and private attorneys throughout the Triad about any pro bono and public interest work they might have for students. “We also have students who want to do internships in the public interest arena,” she added.

A 1973 cum laude graduate of WFU who majored in Asian History, Hopkins is a 1977 graduate of the Marshall Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary. She was Wake Forest’s first black homecoming queen. And she contributed a chapter to WFU Professor Ed Wilson’s book about the history of Wake Forest.

Hopkins’ connection to Wake Forest runs deep. She and her husband, Lawrence D. Hopkins, M.D., met at Wake Forest as students and have lived in Winston-Salem for 27 years. And her 20-year-old son, David, is a junior at the university who plays on the tennis team. The couple also has a daughter, Michelle, who is 27 and a graduate of Winston-Salem State University who is working toward her master’s at Salem College and works at Wells-Fargo.

“When I came to Wake Forest the tradition of giving back continued,” she said. “We helped with a project called the People’s House. A group from Wake Forest would go tutor children and fix breakfast for them. I just never stopped. It is part of my fabric and part of what my family does.”