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Wake Forest Law to expand courses & programming focused on leadership & character with investment from the Kern Family Foundation

Nearly $1 million of a generous grant from the Kern Family Foundation will directly expand Wake Forest University School of Law’s collaboration with the University’s Program for Leadership and Character, bolstering the law school’s efforts to grow instruction and programming for law students to develop their character and professional identity.

The grant is part of an $8.6 million investment from the Kern Family Foundation to support the Program for Leadership and Character’s work in the University’s professional schools, including the School of Law, School of Medicine, and pre-professional undergraduate programs. It builds upon the Foundation’s previous support for the Program for Leadership and Character, which was launched in 2017 to inspire, educate, and empower leaders of character to serve humanity.

“This investment is transformational for our ability to equip Wake Forest Law students with not only the knowledge and skills, but also the virtues and values, that contribute to a meaningful career beyond graduation,” said Wake Forest Law Dean Jane Aiken. “Too often, legal education separates values from work, yet the most impactful lawyers are those who are as committed to personal integrity and the public good as they are to professional excellence. We’re eager to grow our successful collaboration with the Program for Leadership and Character, and continue to impress upon our law graduates the importance of integrity and purpose in all they do.”

With this investment, the law school will redesign and create new courses and programming opportunities focused on the intersections of leadership, character, professional identity, and professional responsibilities. It will also begin the development of a new “clerkship college” centered around character for law students who will be working for judges upon graduation in positions that have a particularly significant impact on how the law is interpreted and practiced.

In collaboration with the Program for Leadership and Character, Wake Forest Law will also begin exploring steps to bring together law schools across the country who are committed to character-based leadership development in an effort to empower other institutions to undertake similar work.

“This grant from the Kern Family Foundation will allow us to build upon growing energy in Wake Forest’s School of Law and other professional schools to prioritize leadership and character education at this university and other institutions,” said Wake Forest Law Scholar-in-Residence Kenneth Townsend, who leads the Program for Leadership and Character in the professional schools. “We want to act as a model and translator for others interested in integrating leadership and character into professional education and practice.”

More law faculty have participated in leadership and character course development and redesign workshops than any other department or school at the University, resulting in new courses, the most recent of which are “Practical Wisdom and the Law,” “Women, Leadership, and the Law,” and “Health Justice: Theory and Practice.” Additionally, new leadership- and character-oriented modules have been introduced in existing courses including “Criminal Law,” “Essential Business Concepts,” and “Race, Social Science, and the Law.” Law faculty have also been the most active of any department or school in the Program for Leadership and Character’s departmental grant program, receiving support for initiatives such as “Lawyers as Leaders,” “Ethics of Software Development,” and “Leadership and Character in Bioethics.”

This past academic year, the law school also launched an inaugural Leadership and Character in the Law Scholars cohort, made up of two law students from each class. Students in the cohort have the opportunity to collaborate with cohort groups in other professional schools, engage in personalized discussions, workshops, and modules organized by the Program for Leadership and Character, participate in networking events with lawyer-leaders from various sectors and backgrounds, and interact with senior University leaders, including Dean Aiken.

Since Wake Forest Law and the Program for Leadership and Character began working together in 2019, more than 300 law students have participated in the range of courses, leadership workshops, retreats, and other programming led by law faculty in partnership with the Program.

In addition to growing the law school’s efforts focused on leadership and character development, the larger grant will also fund the creation of a Center for Personal and Professional Development at the School of Medicine, among other initiatives. With this support, the University also plans to expand character-based initiatives already underway in the department of engineering; integrate larger questions of character, purpose, and professional identity into advising for pre-law and pre-med undergraduate students; and foster interdisciplinary learning opportunities for professional school students and faculty outside of the classroom.


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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Post-pandemic practice: When students graduate into a post-COVID world, some pandemic-induced changes will remain

After 18 months of lockdown, isolation, and seemingly perilous encounters with people outside our bubble, life is beginning to look a bit like it once did. People are traveling, dining out, and socializing in ways that look very much like 2019 — while wondering how that might end up. As the legal profession emerges into this near-post-COVID world, it is a good time to consider what changes Wake Forest Law students may face as they start their careers.

But before touching on what changes may endure post-COVID, it is important to note what will remain steadfast for our current students: The adherence to a vision of our profession as one of service to others is core to Wake Forest Law. Students will continue to serve their clients and communities in meaningful ways and with impact. They will continue to help clients exercise judgment in ways that are aligned with their values, whether during a conflict or in a boardroom. They will continue to build value in transactions between parties, adding creativity and insight in ways that make the sum of a relationship greater than its parts. They will continue to help clients form relationships between parties that will endure over time, and when they don’t, still allow their clients to anticipate an acceptable outcome.

In all of this, Wake Forest Law students will display the highest level of professionalism and skill. These values are deeply ingrained into a Wake Forest Law education, reflected in the faculty and enhanced with each year’s class. How students do this, however, will almost certainly be different in the future.

Looking to the future, it should not be understated how transformational COVID-19 has been. Generally, society adopted and refined tools for this rapid change, and many of these work exceedingly well. Today’s law students will hopefully step into a practice that will retain the best parts of this change.

A “great decentralization” of the workplace

The centralized workspaces and hierarchies that have been part of work life for decades quickly eroded in the wake of COVID-19, replaced by physically dispersed workforces where individuals are responsible for accomplishing tasks from wherever they may be. The pandemic showed us that large, and expensive, offices containing hundreds of lawyers and support positions aren’t necessarily needed on a day-to-day basis. Moving forward, firms may continue to shift lawyers to remote workplaces, reducing overhead, and rely on smaller offices that are used for limited activities, such as closings, depositions, and important client meetings.

This decentralization of workspaces will open up wonderful opportunities for lawyers. They will have flexibility that can allow for a better balance of life with work and more time for other pursuits.

Lawyers will also find expanded opportunities as they are able to join firms in other cities, states, or regions — working remotely from places that offer the quality of life they desire. Wake Forest Law students can expect to step into a much more engaging practice and life balance than what was possible a few decades ago.

We can also anticipate that firms will increasingly move away from hierarchical structures. Remote work has proven that organizations can be incredibly efficient without rigid managerial and administrative structures. This will likely be expressed in new employment relationships for lawyers, and will also impact how client relationships are developed and maintained. Today’s students have an incredible opportunity to build and grow their book of clients much earlier in their careers than in the past.

Remote court proceedings will remain

As with offices, the court system will hopefully take advantage of lessons learned during the pandemic and adopt more remote hearings when possible, creating numerous efficiencies and limiting the need to physically “go to court.” Such a change will lower the cost of litigation for everyone and expand opportunities for lawyers to take on pro bono matters or serve clients in other ways. For example, where it may have been difficult for a lawyer to carve out two or three mornings for calendar calls and preliminary motion hearings on a case when they must be in person, remote hearings make this much easier and could expand the pool of lawyers willing to represent clients in family law, landlord tenant, simple consumer law, and immigration matters. Remote practice has the potential to expand access to justice in other ways, as lawyers will also be able to take engagements for clients from wider areas of need.

An enduring shift to remote courtroom proceedings would also allow clients to broaden where they look for lawyers and no longer depend only on local representation. The connection of legal expertise to a place has been diminished for at least a decade, and clients have now seen how easy it is to seek advice from lawyers outside of where they are located. Online meeting platforms have proven themselves apt at facilitating these interactions and, more importantly, clients have gotten very comfortable with having significant conversations with a lawyer who is far removed from where they are sitting. Clients will increasingly look beyond their city, state, region, and perhaps country for their legal needs. This is a good thing for clients who will see expanded access to services and, due to competition, reduced costs. And it will be a good thing for our students as well, who will see expanded opportunities to serve a wider group of individuals.

Increases in specialization

Clients’ ability to access legal advice from remote places will also drive increased competition among lawyers, who may respond in one of a couple ways. There will be some who will compete on price, lowering their fees to attract clients, though such strategies rarely lead to long-term sustainability. The more successful practices will most likely couple a degree of “price” competition with a decision to compete as specialists, offering services in more specific practice areas led by highly skilled lawyers who are located in different places around the country.

An intellectual property firm, for example, may pull in professionals from cities across a wide region to offer their clients highly skilled lawyers in several product areas. Clients will realize a significant benefit from being able to access the best specialized legal representation needed for an engagement. Additionally, more specialized law practices might crop up in midsized cities with lower overhead, while larger firms who have significant real estate footprints in expensive cities may face challenges.

The pandemic undoubtedly leaves its mark on our profession and creates new dynamics for our students to navigate throughout their careers. The boundaries around when lawyers work will be further eroded by remote employment, which eliminates the physical distinctions between where people work and live. Increased connection through technology can also lead to working more. New lawyers, and maybe some experienced ones, will likely feel an increased urgency to specialize, and perhaps an increased sense of competition. All of this sounds challenging, but Wake Forest Law students will meet these new challenges well prepared.

Wake Forest Law is committed to offering an environment that nurtures the habits of mind and practice that will enable our students to thrive in this future, emphasizing for students the importance of personal relationships over short-term transactional gains. These are the types of bonds that allow a student to enter the profession knowing they have not only the skills they need to succeed, but also a depth of human understanding that will allow them to do what lawyers have always done — serve others. This is expressed in friendships that last a lifetime, service that takes many forms over a career, and a deep understanding that the full formation of a lawyer begins in community — one that serves all.

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

Professor Steve Virgil has practiced law for 30 years and is the founding director of the Community Law and Business Clinic at Wake Forest Law. He joined the faculty as a clinical professor of law in 2008 and teaches courses on community economic development, poverty, and the nonprofit sector.

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Making a local impact: Through a new practicum course, students gained experience in community lawyering by working with Winston-Salem residents

It’s not often that law school curricula allow students who are learning the law to analyze what’s legal and what’s just in our society.

Oftentimes, where a legal remedy ends, justice may demand more. It’s with this in mind that I launched Wake Forest Law’s first-ever Community Lawyering practicum last spring, offering students an opportunity to immerse themselves in how to use their legal skills and knowledge to support community-identified concerns and enhance community power.

Students in the practicum worked directly with residents in historically marginalized communities in Winston-Salem, developing creative legal remedies and approaches to support residents’ participation in local decision-making processes that involve the future of their neighborhoods, city, and history. The practicum not only allows students the opportunity to personally reflect on the intersection of the law and justice in America, but also better understand how they can use their legal knowledge to support communities’ meaningful involvement in conversations around the laws and policies that impact them.

The need for community lawyering

Issues that often arise for Community Lawyering practicum clients include affordable housing, historic preservation, land ownership, zoning laws, health and food equity, and local government policies around economic growth and development. Students view these legal and social problems through a community perspective, and since most of the communities that are challenged by these issues are often communities of color, they also develop an equity lens or a racial justice equity lens in solving legal and non-legal problems.

As our society deals with social challenges involving race, justice, inclusion, and equity, it’s increasingly important for lawyers to have this skill set in order to best serve their clients. Nonprofit and corporate clients alike deal with topics around diversity and inclusion within the employment law context. Corporate clients will have to figure out ways to negotiate deals that expand marketing to more diverse clientele and how to present their corporate social responsibility statements. Investor clients or developers wishing to build in low-wealth communities may want to engage in social impact investing or create equitable strategies around working with the community. Future legal service or nonprofit lawyers may find themselves faced with the realization that the remedies for individual clients’ problems may lie somewhere between what is legal and what is just.

Through experiential opportunities, students gain hands-on experiences that help them to become well-rounded lawyers prepared to work in a society that is becoming more diverse.

Preparing today to serve communities tomorrow

The concept of justice must always involve people, rather than only the law itself: How are people being treated? Are they meaningfully involved in conversations around policies and laws that impact them?

Community lawyering often involves creative lawyering. It encourages students to apply what they are learning in their traditional legal classes, and think critically and unconventionally about the complex challenges faced by marginalized and often under-resourced communities. Instead of examining these issues from their perches as law students, they will view these issues from the community perspective and aid community members in finding their own solutions. Students who enrolled in the practicum read “The Color of the Law” and other assigned readings to learn the history of housing segregation and the concept of justice. The practicum also aimed to help students understand that often lawyers can be professional allies to communities because of the institutional power they can bring in support of their community clients.

For example, a student commented last year that she thought her research had yielded the final advice for her client’s problem, but after I pushed her a little more to “think outside of the box,” she realized she could find a solution that involved the client being a participant in their own destiny. Further, she realized that just because certain divisions within the city were telling the client “no,” it wasn’t a definite “no.” The city simply needed more information, and as a law student, she could help educate the client on the city’s request and help the client formulate a response.

This student realized that her client’s remedy couldn’t be reduced to a cognizable legal claim. This isn’t traditional lawyering, but it uses the skills acquired as a lawyer to research, educate, and advise clients around complex issues that they may not understand — all important lawyering techniques. When students leave the Community Lawyering practicum, they take with them an expanded understanding of the law and how to creatively use their problem solving, research and writing, and oral advocacy skills to advance people more so than the law.

Collaborating with Winston-Salem’s oldest Black community

During the spring 2021 semester, students in the practicum worked directly with Happy Hill Neighborhood Association in Winston-Salem, one of the oldest black communities in the city, and perhaps in North Carolina. The association includes residents who are very energized and involved, which makes for a great practicum client. The residents in Happy Hill were interested in support for their ability to acquire land, influence zoning policy, and build leadership capacity to advocate on their own behalf. These areas could help residents continue to grow its cross-sector partnerships throughout the community, building on those that exist, such as an art grant from the UNC School of the Arts Kenan Institute, and a food collective with other partners who have helped them create a community garden.

Due to COVID-19, students in the spring primarily met virtually. However, they did have the opportunity to take a tour of Happy Hill led by one of the residents who was a member of the association. On the tour, students met up with other residents, saw some of the historic landmarks in Happy Hill, and learned more about the community’s concerns. After that, students were able to speak with the client virtually during almost every class after the first four weeks of the semester. Students worked in groups on topics involving equitable policies, zoning and land use, historical preservation, and community land trusts, analyzing these issues through a legal lens and community perspective. At the end of the semester, students presented their research to the association, and educated the client about each area of concern. The students also co-drafted a letter and talking points on behalf of the association that its members could use as an entry point in deepening relationships and collaboration with other stakeholders in the community, including the city of Winston-Salem.

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

Yolanda Taylor is an adjunct professor of law at Wake Forest University School of Law, a managing attorney at Legal Aid of North Carolina, and a leading economic development attorney. She launched the pilot practicum, Introduction to Community Lawyering, in 2021 to teach Wake Forest Law students how to do impactful legal work on the community level.

White House_By David Everett Strickler_Unsplash

As the nation’s eviction crisis persists, Wake Forest Law faculty and students join White House summit in search of solutions

The economic impact wrought by COVID-19 forced millions of people into the crosshairs of eviction — a life-altering event that can reverberate throughout a person’s life, harming their financial security, housing stability, and health for years to come. And as eviction moratoriums across the country hang in the balance, many more are at risk of losing their homes unless public officials respond quickly to prevent and divert evictions, and help ensure that the more than $46 billion in federal emergency rental assistance makes it into the hands of the tenants and landlords who need it.

It was with these pressing needs in mind that Wake Forest Law faculty and students participated in the White House’s virtual Eviction Prevent Summit on June 30, which brought together government, judicial, legal, housing, and community leaders to develop plans to prevent eviction in communities across the country.

Emily Benfer, a visiting professor of law and public health at Wake Forest who also chairs the American Bar Association’s Task Force on Eviction, Housing Stability, and Equity, collaborated with the White House to support planning for the summit and was among the experts who presented on eviction prevention best practices at the event.

Since March 2020, Benfer has comprehensively tracked federal, state, and local pandemic responses related to eviction and housing, and partnered with the Eviction Lab at Princeton University to create the COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard. The ongoing research, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, is supported by an interdisciplinary team that includes Wake Forest Law students.

“In light of the unprecedented $46 billion in rental assistance, and the unique ability of the courts and policymakers to divert cases, we have an unparalleled opportunity to both prevent housing loss among struggling families and stabilize small property owners,” she told the summit’s participants, who represented 46 high-eviction-risk cities nationwide including Charlotte, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem.

Benfer, along with Wake Forest Law Professor Christine Coughlin and Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor Eleanor Morales, facilitated three of the breakout discussions at the summit, which focused on how sectors and organizations within each city were currently responding to the eviction crisis, as well as ways to create new or enhance existing eviction diversion and prevention programs in their communities.

Eviction diversion programs bring together the public and private sector to provide people with wraparound services that can help prevent housing loss, such as legal representation, mediation, rental assistance, support from the courts and legislature, and social services, among other interventions. The goal is twofold: to divert cases away from the court system — a solution that 70% of landlords prefer, according to a June 2021 survey conducted by the ABA and Harvard Law School — and ultimately to keep people housed.

The legal system in particular can play a critical role in diverting eviction, according to Benfer.

“Especially because this is the last point of intervention before irreparable harm to tenants, courts are critical to preventing the severe and lasting damage caused by the eviction filing alone,” she said.

More than three dozen Wake Forest Law students also had the opportunity to help prepare materials for the summit, as well as witness the development of eviction crisis interventions firsthand as they assisted facilitators with logistics and documented the commitments the participants from each of the cities pledged to make.

Katie Merlin (JD ’22) worked with Benfer to compile information about the eviction crisis in each city represented at the summit to inform the breakout discussions. She described how that research underscored for her the stark contrast between how well-positioned some cities are to address the eviction crisis compared to others, and the importance of events like the summit in facilitating meaningful discussion among those who are able to make a difference. The ability to see “progress in action,” as Merlin described it, also gave her hope for the future.

“Having had family members who have faced the threat of eviction this past year, seeing a group of individuals so dedicated to providing relief for their communities was both inspiring and comforting,” she said.

And as an aspiring public interest lawyer, she said the opportunity to be a part of events like the summit are what drew her to Wake Forest Law in particular.

“I think that this signals to current and future students who are interested in public interest law that Wake Forest Law is dedicated to truly embodying pro humanitate, and is constantly taking steps to ensure that we are living up to that creed,” said Merlin.

Jada Saxon (JD ’22), who is also interested in pursuing a career as a public interest lawyer, said that seeing such a wide range of individuals who were a part of the summit broadened her perspective on what she could do with her law degree.

“This experience in particular gave me insight into how you can be a lawyer without being in a courtroom and practicing law how you generally see it,” she said. “Coming in, you know your JD is versatile, but until you see it, it doesn’t really have the full impact on you.”

The impact of seeing the summit unfold firsthand also brought a new lens to examine legal concepts learned in the classroom for Breanna Miller (JD ’22).

“It’s different than just reading a case and how the court decided to handle it. These are actual people in the community trying to grapple with the situation,” she said. “What stuck with me was the genuine concern that people were bringing to the table on this issue.”

That sentiment was also echoed by Michael Amato (JD ’22), who said the summit provided an opportunity for students to apply themselves in ways they may not get to solely in the classroom.

“I definitely gained an appreciation for just how complex these issues are,” he said.

It’s a kind of complexity that inherently requires collaboration — the benefits of which Sam Brady (JD ’23) says he saw while supporting the facilitation of breakout discussion of the summit. This past year, Brady served as a co-coordinator for the COVID-19 Housing Eviction Project, an effort of Wake Forest Law’s Pro Bono Project in which students created pro se tenant and practitioner manuals detailing the eviction process in North Carolina to help people stay housed in light of the eviction moratorium. Many of the students who participated in the summit have also been involved in the more than a dozen Pro Bono Project efforts available to Wake Forest Law students.

“You can get as far down a path as you can go where you feel like you’ve explored it from every perspective, but getting people who had devoted a lot of their professional lives to this subject from one perspective together in a room to hear it from the other person’s perspective seemed to unlock so much more possibility,” said Brady.


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.

Stephen Hawthornthwaite (left), the co-founder, CEO, and chairman of Rothy’s, showcases the company's line of shoes at a farmers market pop-up. (Photo courtesy of Rothy's)

Wake Forest Law alumnus Stephen Hawthornthwaite is shaping the future of sustainable fashion, one plastic bottle at a time

From an early age, Stephen Hawthornthwaite (JD ’96) was sure of three things: he wanted to start a successful company, do the right thing, and give back to society. What he didn’t anticipate however was that at the age of 41, he’d embark on a multi-year journey to launch what Forbes has called one of the next billion-dollar-startups — which is not only profitable, but is also actively shaping the future of sustainability in the fashion industry.

Hawthornthwaite, a Wake Forest Law alumnus, is the co-founder, CEO, and chairman of Rothy’s, a sustainable lifestyle brand transforming recycled materials into timeless shoes, handbags, and accessories with nearly no waste. Since launching in 2016, Rothy’s has diverted millions of plastic water bottles from landfills and over 200,000 pounds of marine plastic from oceans — 3D knitting recycled plastics into comfortable, stylish essentials.

The idea for Rothy’s — the name of which is a combination of Hawthornthwaite’s nickname, “Hawthy,” and the name of his co-founder, Roth Martin — was borne out of the co-founders’ desire to start a company that would solve a complex problem and their recognition that the increasing “casualization” of fashion was a trend that was here to stay.

“We had a shared vision around a great product that could be for everybody,” said Hawthornthwaite. “The original concept was to create a front-of-the-closet shoe that was an easy choice that a woman could wear first thing in the morning, into the evening, and carry her throughout her day.”

But the pair also knew they had to innovate.

“We didn’t want to be just the thousandth manufacturer of women’s flats,” he said.

And innovate they did, though in the face of one major challenge: neither co-founder had any experience in the footwear industry. But that, Hawthornthwaite says, is one area where his experiences at Wake Forest Law helped him find solutions.

Learning to distill and synthesize volumes of information into a simple, compelling argument prepared him for the work he would do to understand the landscape in both the footwear and knitting industries, and to chart a clear path forward for Rothy’s.

“There’s not a day that goes by in my current role that I’m not thankful to have a law degree,” he said. “I’m right where I wanted to be, which is I know the right questions to ask, and I know when to get an attorney involved.”

As he learned more about the footwear industry, Hawthornthwaite was struck by how much waste was produced in the typical manufacturing process, where material is traditionally die-cut into pieces that are then stitched together, resulting in excess material that isn’t put to use.

The 3D-knitting technology that Rothy’s developed and uses in its factories allows the company to seamlessly knit the upper portion of each of its shoes as a single piece, eliminating much of the waste created in a more typical footwear production process.

Hawthornthwaite had also observed that sustainable products of the past were often lower-quality or less fashionable. With that in mind, he believed that solving for those two drawbacks alone would engage more people in making sustainable purchases, whether that was their primary intent or not.

“If we make a great product that’s beautiful and comfortable, there are going to be people who really don’t care about sustainability, but they’re going to buy it because it’s beautiful and comfortable,” said Hawthornthwaite. “If you can deliver a great product that’s compelling without asking the customer to really sacrifice something in the process, then you’re driving change.”

Part of the company’s ability to produce such a product in a way that also aligned with its environmentally conscious mission hinged on Rothy’s having its own factory in Dongguan, China.

“To really execute on sustainability, to really be sustainable through and through, by definition you have to own your factory,” Hawthornthwaite said. “We built from the ground up with that in mind, and when you own your own factory, you’re really controlling the process. You’re controlling the waste. We know how our people are treated.”

Navigating the challenges of establishing the Rothy’s factory, and the company more broadly, was another area where Hawthornthwaite points to his legal education as particularly influential — especially what he learned in courses like tax law, corporate law, and real estate law.

“To anyone who is thinking about doing something else with their law school career, absolutely consider it,” said Hawthornthwaite. “A law degree is invaluable in any number of industries.”

What began as a women’s footwear company has now evolved into a brand that also produces handbags, accessories, and most recently, a line of men’s footwear launched in May 2021. As it has grown, Rothy’s has made great strides in sustainability, and the company’s mission to continuously do better for people and the planet has led it to set its sights on something even more ambitious: closing its loop through circular production, which it hopes to achieve by 2023.

“So many of the products that are produced don’t really have an end-of-life strategy. Because we own our factory, we can design for end-of-life. Our most complex shoe probably has seven [materials] total, and that enables us to start to recycle shoes, and then reuse that material in the production of new shoes and be fully circular,” said Hawthornthwaite.

It’s a vision that aligns with Hawthornthwaite’s fundamental belief “that people are good and that they want to do good things for society” — a belief that’s reflective of the pro humanitate spirit of Wake Forest Law graduates.

Listen to Wake Forest Law’s conversation with Stephen Hawthornthwaite on The Legal Deac podcast, where he talks further with Professor John Knox and Executive Director of Marketing Jorge Reyna.


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.

american flag flying in overcast sky

Veterans Legal Clinic Client Issued Honorable Discharge

A local veteran has a reason to celebrate. After 13 years since a less-than-honorable discharge from the U.S. Army, this veteran, who we will call Frankie for purposes of anonymity, has been issued an honorable discharge thanks to the Wake Forest Veterans Legal Clinic.

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professor reynolds walking with justice ginsburg in venice

Remembering US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

(Winston-Salem, N.C., September 21, 2020) — Wake Forest Law joins the nation in mourning the loss of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A fierce and devoted advocate for gender equality, Justice Ginsburg is widely considered the architect of the legal battle for women’s rights. Her work changed the world for all American women and men.

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filed papers by year

Two decades in the pursuit of justice

In 1998, “Saving Private Ryan,” “Armageddon,” “Titanic,” and “There’s Something About Mary” were among the five biggest films of the year, and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” was published for the first time in the United States.

It was the same year attorney Mark Rabil began working on the John Robert Hayes case.

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students arguing in court

Trial By Comeback

A collegially competitive spirit thrives among Wake Forest Law students. You may hear it most loudly when it comes to oral advocacy.

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