Our People

Ellie Morales (JD ’10), Director of the Veterans Legal Clinic, gave remarks about the clinic at a Veterans Day Ceremony on Nov. 11, 2021, that honored several of the clinic's clients.

Wake Forest University honors Eleanor Morales (JD ’10), Director of the Veterans Legal Clinic, as a Decorated Deac

For Ellie Morales (JD ’10), it was her experiences during a Department of Defense internship while attending Davidson College on an Army ROTC and a swimming scholarship that solidified her desire to pursue a legal education.

“Seeing real-life military and government civilian lawyers impact national and international events persuaded me to become a lawyer,” she says. “I thought that being a military lawyer would be the best way I could make an impact in the service of others and my country.”

Her career spent doing just that and more led Wake Forest University to honor Morales as the “Decorated Deac” during the football game against N.C. State on Nov. 13. The recognition is among many she’s received for her service to her country and clients throughout her career — which has most recently brought her back to Wake Forest Law as the Director of the Veterans Legal Clinic to supervise students as they work with former service members to correct injustices in their military records.

“What I enjoy most about teaching at Wake Forest Law is the same reason I chose to come to Wake as a law student: the community, including the faculty, staff, and students,” says Morales. “It’s a supportive environment that fosters growth and learning.”

Immediately after graduating from law school, Morales joined the Army Judge Advocate General Corps, first serving as a legal assistance attorney and later as a military criminal prosecutor while stationed at Fort Hood in Texas. In 2013, she volunteered to deploy to Kabul, Afghanistan, as an operational law attorney, where she advised a senior-level commander on the rules of engagement and the law of armed conflict supporting the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. forces. The position offered her the opportunity to collaborate with not only service members from multiple military branches, but also military lawyers from around the world.

Returning to Fort Hood about a year later, she then went on to attend airborne school at Fort Benning in Georgia and became part of the 82nd Airborne Division stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, where she advised a brigade commander on legal actions. Upon transitioning into the Army Reserves in 2015, where she currently serves as an Army judge advocate in the rank of Major, she worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Department of Justice for five years. In 2019, Morales and her colleague received the DOJ Director’s Award for Superior Performance for their work successfully prosecuting the first sex trafficking trial in the Eastern District of North Carolina.

She says her experiences as a law student in her criminal law and evidence courses, as well as in the Innocence and Justice Clinic, had an impact on her work after law school.

“They formed how I viewed justice and influenced me as a military and federal prosecutor,” she says.

But according to Morales, it’s the law school’s deeply personal and flexible approach that leaves a lasting impact on its alumni.

“Each law student has the flexibility to decide their own path,” she says. “Wake encourages and fosters diverse careers for its students, who graduate as well-rounded lawyers and possess strong legal writing skills. They’re lawyers who are hardworking and focused on serving others and their communities.”


The mission of Wake Forest Law is to advance the cause of justice by creating knowledge and educating students to meet the legal needs of the world with confidence, character, and creativity. We instill in students a respect for the law, a devotion to the ideal of service, and a commitment to professional values. We educate students from around the world in a richly diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. Learn more at law.wfu.edu, and stay up to date on what’s happening in the Wake Forest Law community by following us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

For alumna Vicki Banks, an MSL degree helped her stand out and step up at The Biltmore Company

It was after nearly two decades of working in human resources at The Biltmore Company that Vicki Banks (MSL ’19), then the Vice President of Human Resources, knew she wanted to expand her knowledge in ways that wouldn’t just propel her to the next phase of her career, but would also help her continue to add unique value to the company.

“I always wanted to get my master’s, but all of my friends, my peers, and my coworkers had MBAs, and that never really rang true to my career and my path,” said Banks, who has now been at The Biltmore Company for 21 years and since been promoted to Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Government Relations. “I was thinking about what I could do with a master’s degree that would differentiate myself from everyone else.”

That’s when Banks found Wake Forest Law’s Master of Studies in Law (MSL) program, which she says spoke to her professional experiences in human resources but also offered the opportunity to broaden her knowledge of how those experiences intersect with the law, compliance, and other business areas in ways that other graduate programs she explored did not.

“I knew I wanted to enhance my legal background, and my knowledge around law,” said Banks. “I knew also that getting a JD, I probably couldn’t do that and work full time, and it wasn’t really required to necessarily be effective at what I did.”

So she enrolled in Wake Forest Law’s MSL program and graduated two years later in 2019. Since then, she says she’s used her expanded knowledge in her role every day, whether she’s dealing with employee situations and guest scenarios that involve legal aspects, or intellectual property, physical assets, and contracting issues, among others.

The fact that Banks’s role pulls her into such a wide range of legal areas is no surprise given the complexity of The Biltmore Company. While it’s often most well-known for its Biltmore House, the largest privately owned home in the United States, the company also includes a portfolio of other operations including food and beverage, retail, hotels, a farm, a vineyard, winemaking, and more. It means that Banks has to be able to navigate the legal, compliance, and regulatory environments for each of those industries — something her MSL has helped her do even more successfully.

“You can’t be a jack of all trades. Vicki has to be a master of all of them,” said Steve Watson, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Officer of The Biltmore Companies. “She has to know a lot about the legal and regulatory area, but she also has to know when to call outside experts in. Her degree has given her just a great depth of knowledge of the legal environment, and it’s allowed her to ask the right questions.”

Those questions and the perspective gained from her MSL degree, according to Watson, have empowered Banks to think creatively, and then execute on those ideas, when it comes to supporting the health and well-being of The Biltmore Company’s more than 2,000 employees.

“It is a program that allows you to navigate the legal system, to understand it, to be proactive with it versus reactive,” said Banks.

Vicki Banks, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Government Relations for The Biltmore Company, graduated from the human resources track of Wake Forest Law's Master of Studies in Law program in 2019.

Vicki Banks, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Government Relations for The Biltmore Company, graduated from the human resources track of Wake Forest Law’s Master of Studies in Law program in 2019.

With a stronger understanding of the legal landscape, she has spearheaded efforts to create an affordable housing benefit for employees, collaborated with multiple government agencies to develop the company’s plan to re-open during the COVID-19 pandemic, and worked with the company’s external legal partners in an increasingly efficient and cost-effective manner.

“It taught me to think more strategically and to think differently,” said Banks. “That’s really important on a leadership team, that you don’t have cookie-cutter individuals around the table. That you have folks that are thinking differently about situations so that you get the best results.”

Opportunities that encourage students to think differently about their work through a legal lens are intentionally baked into the MSL program, where Banks says she learned not only from her professors, but also from her peers, who brought their experiences from a diverse range of industries and geographies to their virtual interactions and to in-person weekend intensives that she participated in.

Banks initially wasn’t certain what to expect from a fully online, asynchronous program like Wake Forest Law’s MSL, but knew she needed a program in that format to be able to complete her degree while also working full time. However, she says the level of communication, flexibility, and support was above and beyond what she anticipated.

“The instructors are truly committed to the program and to their students. There wasn’t a time that I had a question and I didn’t have a response quickly and thoroughly, and guidance and support,” said Banks. “You always felt connected to Wake and to the program.”

And though her time in the program was a busy one, it’s the connections and collaboration that Banks says she missed as soon as she graduated.

“I miss it tremendously,” said Banks. “It’s a great way to broaden your knowledge and to show your commitment to not just your career, but the idea of learning every day.”

Visit msl.law.wfu.edu to learn more about Wake Forest Law’s Master of Studies in Law degree program, offering tracks in Business Law and Compliance, Health Law and Policy, and Human Resources.


The mission of Wake Forest Law is to advance the cause of justice by creating knowledge and educating students to meet the legal needs of the world with confidence, character, and creativity. We instill in students a respect for the law, a devotion to the ideal of service, and a commitment to professional values. We educate students from around the world in a richly diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. Learn more at law.wfu.edu, and stay up to date on what’s happening in the Wake Forest Law community by following us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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Set up for success: How coding, blockchain, and data skills prepare law students for the future

Scott Adams, the creator of the famous Dilbert comic strip, claims that “the best way to increase your odds of success — in a way that might look like luck to others — is to systematically become good, but not amazing, at the types of skills that work well together and are highly useful for just about any job.” For lawyers, acquiring technology skills is the best way to increase their odds of success, particularly at a time when the legal profession can no longer afford to ignore rapid technological advances.

The Supreme Court has wrestled with privacy issues that may arise now that the majority of adults in the U.S. store vast amounts of personal data on their cell phones. Traditional companies such as Ernst & Young and legal tech startups are using technology to provide alternative legal solutions. In response to developments like these, law schools — including Wake Forest Law — are offering more courses that address issues at the intersection of law and technology. When it comes to technology skills, there are three areas future lawyers can focus on in particular to elevate their ability to serve their clients and make legal decisions.

Software Development

A lawyer that knows how to code knows how to solve problems. I learned how to code in college and understanding how a computer works and software is built served me well during my time as a patent attorney. I was able to talk to inventors on their level and understand their goals. In my course on designing legal apps, students develop these skills through building a software application to solve a legal problem. In the process, they also learn how to view a legal problem from a client’s perspective, break complex legal issues into manageable pieces and solve them, and harness technology to address access to justice issues.

Blockchain

Lawyers who understand blockchain technology will be able to navigate the legal risks and opportunities of the not-so-distant future. Earlier this year, a digital image of a flying cat with a PopTart body fetched a price of $580,000 at auction. The image is freely available on the internet, yet this particular image demanded a high price because it was an authentic nonfungible token (NFT). Products like NFTs and Bitcoin use blockchain technology, a decentralized distributed encrypted ledger that is essentially a database of transactions. While NFTs have garnered press recently, not all blockchain applications involve new concepts. For example, state governments are using blockchain to solve chain of title issues. The future of products like NFTs and cryptocurrencies is uncertain, but blockchain will undoubtedly be a platform for future products and services that graduates will need to navigate.

Big Data

The explosion in the amount of potentially useful information that’s accessible to businesses, government, and other institutions requires that lawyers understand how to work with data. Companies spend billions of dollars each year to collect data for use in making business decisions that can often have legal implications. For example, advances in artificial intelligence that uses data to build predictive models have given rise to privacy concerns that put data collection practices in the legal spotlight. Lawyers must understand how to consume and interpret data, how their clients use it to inform their decisions, and how it can be used to shape their legal strategies.

While future lawyers must prioritize understanding the law, become excellent writers, and work extremely hard, they must also understand that the law does not exist in a vacuum. We live in an era where almost every consumer product has software and collects data. Understanding foundational areas such as coding, blockchain technology, and data literacy are equally important to increase lawyers’ odds of success in this environment.

This story originally appeared in the 2021 issue of the Wake Forest Jurist.

Professor Keith Robinson joined the Wake Forest University School of Law faculty in July 2021. He teaches intellectual property and patent law, in addition to researching and writing in these areas as well as property and technology law.

business

Learners for life: Thriving at the intersections of the law and other disciplines

When Tim Ellerbe (MSL ’21) is asked to share what drew him to pursue his Master of Studies in Law degree in Business Law and Compliance, he unequivocally credits the University’s reputation. He relishes the reaction he gets when people ask about it. “You have a law degree from Wake Forest?” he quips, mimicking an impressed expression. “That opens doors.”

As Senior Program Manager for IT Security and Compliance at Dell, Inc., Ellerbe is very much enjoying how the degree has enhanced his role working with lawyers and legal teams where issues of privacy and security intersect with business operations and practices.

“Companies get sued for not getting this stuff right,“ he says, and a big part of his job is ensuring that Dell is and remains compliant with the laws regulating its business.

He joined the company after 30 years at Hewlett-Packard, and quickly found himself feeling restless as he contemplated the next step to take in his IT career. Ellerbe identified security, privacy, and compliance as issues of top concern in the technology space, so he set out to find a degree that would accommodate both his new career ambitions, as well as his lifestyle as a long-time working professional. He found a multitude of options and eventually settled on the Wake Forest Law MSL due to the school’s reputation, and because the program felt like exactly what he needed to learn to become a security and compliance officer.

Tim Ellerbe (MSL ’21) during the Master of Studies in Law

Tim Ellerbe (MSL ’21) during the Master of Studies in Law

The fact that the MSL program felt tailor-made to Ellerbe was not a coincidence. In the summer of 2015, then-Dean Suzanne Reynolds (JD ’77) hired Professor Ellen Murphy (JD ’02) to re-invent the MSL as a part-time, online-only degree to meet the needs of working professionals. It was to be a market-driven curriculum by design, and Murphy spent a great deal of time performing extensive research, consulting with industry experts, and conducting market studies. She discovered the tremendous need for professionals who understand how to mitigate risk in their workplaces — a need that was only matched by those professionals’ desire for maximum flexibility to accommodate their busy schedules. The program was developed based on Murphy’s research, and it currently offers a curriculum focused on three tracks: Business Law and Compliance, Health Law and Policy, and Human Resources.

Sam Parker (MSL ’20) feels his MSL in Health Law and Policy differentiates him from his peers because it focuses on a different aspect of the needs of his organization.

“I’ve seen a lot of friends go back and get their master’s in social work or MBAs,” said Parker. “I chose this degree because it is a different way to look at the same problem.”

He began his current role as Program Manager for the Ryan White Department at Atrium Health in January 2021, and he credits his MSL for helping him get the position more quickly. In this role, Parker has taken on writing Standard Operating Procedures for his department, managing staff, working with the General Director on HR issues, and ensuring he is documenting correctly in the highly regulated business setting in which he works.

When discussing the contributions having this degree helps him bring to the Ryan White Department at Atrium Health, he said, “Am I the authority? No, but this degree has given me the ability to have a good basic understanding to help avoid some pitfalls” — pitfalls that can be costly to any organization.

Learning from world-class faculty who invite leading legal experts to the classroom is often cited by MSL students as a great value-add to their classes. Parker recalls an experience where a state judge speaking in one of his classes discussed how over-documentation will often be as detrimental to a case as under-documentation because both denote inconsistency and carelessness that can complicate a complaint.

Sam Parker (MSL ’20)

Sam Parker (MSL ’20)

Having access to classroom speakers at that level was a unique experience that stood out for him, he says. This high level of professor interaction and engagement is not a given in an asynchronous online format, yet the Wake Forest Law MSL accomplishes this through its faculty and administrative staff, who remain committed to providing students with a high-caliber academic experience.

The program recently completed its fifth year in its current format. Dean Jane Aiken has continued the work of meeting with leaders in different business sectors to identify new opportunities to grow in ways that remain responsive to the needs identified in the marketplace. Working with newly-arrived Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs Chris Martin and Director Amber Featherstone, they are exploring ways in which the MSL could enhance other graduate programs within Wake Forest University.

“Though our program is still young, the experiences of career advancement and professional fulfillment our MSL students report back to us after graduation have inspired us to invest more resources into growing it much, much further in the years to come,” said Aiken.

The program is expanding its offerings to MSL alumni who want to audit classes as a way to keep their knowledge and skills current. Ellerbee, for one, has already enrolled and completed his first class audit since graduation, Cybersecurity and Privacy. It was a class he wasn’t able to take during his time earning the degree.

“And I’ll be taking some more classes,” he says, spoken like a true life-long learner.

For more information on the Master of Studies in Law, visit the program homepage.

This story originally appeared in the 2021 issue of the Wake Forest Jurist.

John H. Knox, Henry C. Lauerman Professor of International Law

Professor John Knox testifies before members of U.S. House Natural Resources Committee on human rights and international conservation

In testimony before members of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, Wake Forest Law Professor John Knox discussed the key role that Indigenous peoples and local communities play in the conservation of natural ecosystems, and recommended steps the United States should take to protect against human rights abuses of these groups by governments and conservation organizations.

“It is now well understood that the world is facing a global biodiversity crisis, which threatens one-quarter of all species with extinction,” said Knox in written testimony submitted to the committee. “But it is far less well understood that the biodiversity crisis is also a human rights crisis. The best way to conserve the natural environment is to protect the human rights of those who live in nature: the Indigenous peoples and local communities who directly depend on forests and rivers for their material and spiritual well-being.”

During the Oct. 26 hearing of the Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife, Knox also described the findings of an independent expert panel on which he served that conducted an in-depth investigation of the World Wildlife Fund’s involvement in alleged human rights abuses in protected areas in Africa and Asia — findings which he said WWF had taken out of context and given a false impression of in its statement to the subcommittee.

“The panel found that WWF knew, often for many years, about alleged human rights abuses in the parks in protected areas that it supports in each of these countries,” Knox testified. “WWF nevertheless continued to provide financial and material support, and most importantly, WWF often failed to take effective steps to prevent or respond to the abuses.”

Before beginning to question the witnesses, Subcommittee Chair Rep. Jared Huffman of California noted that he associated himself with Knox’s comments and said that “WWF still doesn’t seem to get it . . . in response to this panel’s investigation, WWF continues to portray this as largely exculpatory, something that exonerates them from accountability.”

Knox, who also served as the first United Nations independent expert and special rapporteur on human rights in the environment, noted that WWF’s problems with implementing human rights commitments are not unique, but just one example of a larger issue that runs throughout the world of international conservation. Such behavior, he argued, will not change until the U.S. and other donor states withhold funding for international conservation unless a protected area or conservation initiative can demonstrate it is respecting the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities; providing effective protections against human rights abuses by park rangers; complying with human rights responsibilities; ensuring independence grievance mechanisms to hear and provide appropriate relief for complaints; and engaging in transparent practices.

“I would encourage you to consider and propose legislation that would ensure that funds to WWF and other conservation organizations include basic human rights protections,” said Knox in his written testimony. “The U.S. government, like other donors, has a responsibility to ensure that the funds they provide for international conservation are used consistently with its own human rights commitments.”

In addition to Knox, the subcommittee also heard testimony from Joan Carling, global director of Indigenous Peoples Rights International; Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of wildlife conservation at World Wildlife Fund – US; and Kaddu Sebunya, CEO of the African Wildlife Foundation.

Read Professor Knox’s complete written testimony. Watch a recording of the hearing, “Protecting Human Rights in International Conservation.”


The mission of Wake Forest Law is to advance the cause of justice by creating knowledge and educating students to meet the legal needs of the world with confidence, character, and creativity. We instill in students a respect for the law, a devotion to the ideal of service, and a commitment to professional values. We educate students from around the world in a richly diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. Learn more at law.wfu.edu, and stay up to date on what’s happening in the Wake Forest Law community by following us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Sidney Shapiro, Professor of Law and Frank U. Fletcher Chair in Administrative Law

Professor Sidney Shapiro testifies about COVID-19 vaccine requirements before U.S. House Education & Labor Committee members

As employers across the country anticipate a rule being developed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that would require vaccination or weekly testing for people working for companies with 100 or more employees, Wake Forest Law Professor Sidney Shapiro, a leading expert in administrative procedure and regulatory policy, testified before members of the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee about OSHA’s legal authority to establish and enforce vaccine standards and accommodations.

In the Oct. 26 joint hearing of the Workplace Protections and Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittees, Shapiro explained that OSHA has clear legal authority under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to issue an emergency temporary standard (ETS) requiring COVID-19 vaccines and testing because these protections save lives more so than masking and social distancing.

“We know for certain that workers will die from exposure to COVID unless they are protected by an ETS during the time it will take OSHA to write a permanent standard,” Shapiro said in his written testimony. “Short-term exposure to COVID, especially the Delta variant, is a grave danger that requires immediate protection because that single short-term exposure is sufficient to cause the worker’s death or serious illness.”

OSHA’s anticipated rule requiring vaccines and testing is especially appropriate in response to the Delta variant and a slowdown in the pace of vaccinations, Shapiro argued, and is in line with the kinds of “sensible safeguards” the U.S. has taken to protect people since its founding.

“The existing ETS, which does not require vaccinations or testing, was promulgated at a time in the country when it appeared possible that most Americans would become vaccinated and before the new outbreaks of COVID that appeared in the fall due to the Delta COVID variant,” Shapiro wrote. “OSHA must assess the need for an ETS by considering the evolving understanding of the best ways to protect workers in their places of employment.

“OSHA not only has the legal authority to issue an ETS requiring vaccines and testing, but its statutory mandate also requires it to take this step,” he continued. “People should not have to risk their lives when they go to work when there are sensible safeguards that would protect them. An ETC requiring vaccinations or testing would fulfill this life-saving mandate.”

In addition to Shapiro, the subcommittees also heard testimony from Dr. Doron Dorfman, associate professor of law at Syracuse University College of Law; Scott Hecker, senior counsel in the Workplace Safety and Environmental Practice Group of Seyfarth Shaw LLP’s Washington, D.C. office; and Richelle T. Luther, senior vice president of corporate affairs and chief human resources officer of Columbia Sportswear Company.

Read Professor Shapiro’s full written testimony. Watch a recording of the full hearing, “Protecting Lives and Livelihoods: Vaccine Requirements and Employee Accommodations.”


The mission of Wake Forest Law is to advance the cause of justice by creating knowledge and educating students to meet the legal needs of the world with confidence, character, and creativity. We instill in students a respect for the law, a devotion to the ideal of service, and a commitment to professional values. We educate students from around the world in a richly diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. Learn more at law.wfu.edu, and stay up to date on what’s happening in the Wake Forest Law community by following us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Race and Guns_FB

Professor Gregory Parks hosts conversation on race and guns in the U.S.

On July 31, Wake Forest Law Professor Gregory Parks brought together a panel of academics and experts for a thoughtful and thought-provoking conversation on race and guns in the United States. The discussion examined how race intersects with the history of gun ownership in America, the roots of the Second Amendment, and the modern politics of guns. The panelists brought a historical, legal, psychological, and sociological lens to bear on the conversation around Black gun ownership in the U.S., which has increased by nearly 60% in the last year, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Panelists included:

  • Philip Smith, Founder and President of the National African American Gun Association
  • Jennifer Carlson, Associate Professor of Sociology and Government and Public Policy at the University of Arizona, and author of “Policing the Second Amendment: Guns, Law Enforcement, and the Politics of Race”
  • Robert Cottrol, Professor of Law at the George Washington University School of Law, and author of “Gun Control and the Constitution: The Courts, Congress, and the Second Amendment”
  • Nicholas Johnson, Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law, and author of “Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms”
  • Simon Wendt, Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Frankfurt, and author of “The Spirit and the Shotgun: Armed Resistance and the Struggle for Civil Rights”
  • David Yamane, Professor of Sociology at Wake Forest University

 

Watch a recording of the conversation below.

Tyler Parent has joined Wake Forest Law as Assistant Director for Law Enrollment in the Office of Admissions & Financial Aid.

Wake Forest Law welcomes Tyler Parent as Assistant Director for Law Enrollment

Wake Forest Law is excited to welcome Tyler Parent as the new Assistant Director for Law Enrollment in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid. In this role, he will serve as the primary recruiter for the law school’s Juris Doctor program and develop programming for prospective and accepted students, as well as colleges and student groups.

Previously an admissions counselor at Arizona’s A.T. Still University and Bryan University, Parent said he is most looking forward to learning from and building relationships with Wake Forest Law’s faculty and staff, as well as interacting and establishing connections with prospective students and their families.

“When I applied to law school, I relied heavily on admissions personnel to help navigate the application process,” said Parent. “It’s important to me to draw upon my past experiences and serve as a resource for applicants and prospective students.”

As a 2018 graduate of the University of Toledo College of Law, he was actively involved in the Public Interest Law Association, Environmental Law Society and Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity.

At Wake Forest Law, Parent will advise students on the admissions process, programmatic opportunities, and financial aid and scholarships. Part of his role will also focus on expanding efforts to support a diverse and inclusive recruitment and enrollment process at Wake Forest Law.

Parent will also oversee prospective student tours and visits, and the admissions ambassadors program, which engages current students with accepted students to strengthen relationships within the Wake Forest Law community. Parent recalled that his own exposure to student affairs and admissions stemmed from his involvement as a law student ambassador, and grew from there through his work as an admissions counselor.

“My evolution as a professional ignited when I began to broaden my exposure to other graduate programs. Over the past several years I’ve gained substantial experience working with graduate health science students, which has helped make me a more well rounded and knowledgeable admissions professional,” he said.

As a Detroit native and University of Michigan alumnus, Parent is a fan of the football teams of both, and regularly attends Lions and Wolverines games with his family. And after spending three years in the Arizona desert, he is looking forward to exploring the local trails and hiking in destinations like Pilot Mountain State Park and Hanging Rock State Park. Since his move to North Carolina, Parent said he is enjoying living in downtown Winston-Salem, though as a self-proclaimed “pizza snob,” has promised to continue to advocate for the famed deep-dish delicacy of Detroit.

“Regular pilgrimages back to Detroit for pizza at Buddy’s will always be a requirement for me,” he said.

However, his passion for pizza was outmatched by his long standing passion for the law school experience and culture.

“After completing law school, it was important to me to not only absorb as much as possible about admissions and student affairs but to demonstrate my commitment to higher education,” he said. “I hoped to eventually return as a professional if I found the right fit.”

And Wake Forest Law, he says, was exactly the fit that he was searching for.

Welcome, Tyler!

Wake Forest Law student Henna Shah (JD ’21) stands in the Worrell Professional Center Commons.

Wake Forest Law student Henna Shah receives Smith Anderson Pro Bono Award for Exceptional Service

Wake Forest University School of Law student Henna Shah (JD ’21) has been chosen as the recipient of the 2021 Smith Anderson Pro Bono Award for Exceptional Service in recognition of her outstanding pro bono service to the Winston-Salem community. Now in its seventh year, the award is given annually to a Wake Forest Law student who demonstrates a passion to serve people in need, and whose pro bono service has a positive impact on the community and increases access to legal information.

Shah provided nearly 600 hours of pro bono work while a full-time student at Wake Forest Law, where she has also served as the executive director of the Pro Bono Project, community outreach director of the Public Interest Law Organization, president of the International Law Society, communications director of the Environmental Law Society and a member of the editorial staff of the Wake Forest Journal of Law and Policy.

“Pro bono work is absolutely essential, and Henna’s work is reflective of Wake Forest University School of Law’s commitment to instilling its importance in each of our graduates so that they will continue to help those in need throughout their law careers,” said Wake Forest Law Dean Jane Aiken. “Henna sets an exceptional example of leadership for all of our students.”

The Triangle’s largest law firm, Smith Anderson, funded the establishment of the Smith Anderson Office of Community Outreach at Wake Forest Law, which houses the Public Interest Law Organization — a student-run organization that works in collaboration with Wake Forest Law to train future lawyers to serve both their clients and their communities — and the Pro Bono Project. Through the Pro Bono Project, students have the opportunity to provide assistance to attorneys who offer legal services at no fee or at a substantially reduced fee to individuals in need, fostering a life-long commitment to pro bono work among Wake Forest Law graduates.

“Pro bono work has taken on an added significance in the past year,” said Gerald Roach, Smith Anderson’s Firm Chair and Wake Forest University Board of Trustees’ Chair. “The pandemic created many needs, and Smith Anderson applauds Henna’s extraordinary dedication to serving others in these extraordinary times.”

In her application for the award, Shah described how the pro bono experiences she has had while at Wake Forest Law have been pivotal in her decision to pursue a career focused on pro bono work.

Of her time leading the Pro Bono Project, Shah said the experience she was most fond of was creating the Protesters’ Rights Project, which seeks to develop awareness around the legal rights of assembly and protest while building connections between law students and the community. In addition to that project, multiple others were established during her leadership, including the COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance Project, the COVID-19 Housing Eviction Project and the Driver’s License Restoration Project.

“During law school, I had the privilege of serving my community through pro bono legal work and services both in and outside of the courtroom,” said Shah. “It is an honor to be named the recipient of the 2021 Smith Anderson Pro Bono Award for Exceptional Service.”

Eligible candidates for the Smith Anderson Pro Bono Award for Exceptional Service must:

  • Be a Pro Bono Honor Society member, which requires students to complete 75 hours of pro bono service over a three-year period or 50 hours in one year;
  • Have 100 or more pro bono hours within three years or 75 hours or more within one year; and
  • Exhibit passion, creativity, dedication and commitment to serving those in need in a way that results in demonstrated impact or increased access to legal information among an underserved population.

For more details about the award, contact Bill Cresenzo, Communications and PR Coordinator for Smith Anderson, at wcresenzo@smithlaw.com or Amelia Nitz Kennedy, Director of Marketing, Communications and Public Relations for Wake Forest Law, at nitzkea@wfu.edu.

Wake Forest Law Dean Jane Aiken gives remarks at the presentation of the Kay Hagan Award to law student Katharine Batchelor (JD ’21), fourth from the right, on Thursday, April 29, 2021. (WFU/Ken Bennett)

Inaugural Kay Hagan Award presented to Wake Forest Law student Katharine Batchelor

Wake Forest Law student Katharine Batchelor (JD ’21) received the first-ever Kay Hagan Award on Thursday in recognition of her achievements in the law school’s State and Local Government course. Established in August 2020, the award honors the late United States Sen. Kay Hagan (JD ’78), who passed away in October 2019.

“Kay Hagan is a model of what we would hope would happen with Wake Forest Law students,” said Wake Forest Law Dean Jane Aiken during the award ceremony. “If you look at all of the things she did, this is a woman who was courageous and took strong positions on issues — and that’s important.”

Sen. Hagan, a Wake Forest Law alumna, served for a decade in the North Carolina General Assembly as a senator representing Guilford County before being elected to one term in Congress as the state’s first Democractic female senator.

During the ceremony, Sen. Hagan’s husband, Chip Hagan (JD ’77), described his wife’s passion for service at both the state and federal level.

“She was very interested in trying to do things to make our state a better place to be,” said Hagan. “For us to be able to recognize the people that do well in state and local government, and recognize the importance of it, and to have Kay be a part of honoring that is to me exactly what she would have wanted.”

Batchelor is the first recipient of the award, which will be given annually to the best student in the law school’s State and Local Government course taught by Adjunct Professor Don Vaughan (JD ’79).

Vaughan is a former North Carolina state senator who was elected to fill Sen. Hagan’s seat when she became the state’s U.S. senator. He also served seven terms as a member of the Greensboro City Council.

“I’m proud that we get to honor our friend Kay Hagan, who meant a lot to this school and meant a lot to me personally,” said Vaughan.

Batchelor’s final paper for the course — “The Echo of Silent Sam: How the Fall of UNC’s Notorious Confederate Monument Illustrates Complex Questions of Authority in North Carolina State and Local Government” — led to her selection for the award.

“I attended UNC-Chapel Hill for undergrad, so I enjoyed examining the various government actors involved in the Silent Sam controversy through a legal lens,” said Batchelor. “Furthermore, as a native North Carolinian and a law student pursuing a public interest career, it is particularly meaningful to receive an award that honors a woman who dedicated her life to serving this state and its citizens.”

During her time at Wake Forest Law, Batchelor has also been managing editor of the Wake Forest Law Review and executive director of the Public Interest Law Organization. In August, she will begin clerking for Judge Darren Jackson on the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

Members of the award selection committee also attended the ceremony, including Mike Fox, partner at Tuggle Duggins and chairman of the North Carolina Department of Transportation; Paul Mengert, chairman, Piedmont Triad Airport Authority Board of Directors and an alumnus of Harvard Business School; Nancy Vaughan, Mayor of Greensboro; A. Grant Whitney (’76, JD ’79), partner at Parker Poe, et. al., and former chairman, North Carolina State Board of Elections; and Brad Wilson (JD ’78), executive-in-residence at Wake Forest University and former chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.

All five members of the selection committee have been lecturers in the course over the past seven years, bringing real-world experiences into the classroom for Wake Forest Law students.