Beloved Former Faculty Member Butch Covington Named Professor Emeritus

When you hear the name Butch Covington around the Law School, you can bet it will be followed by a superlative of the highest order. In 1979, just two years after he joined the faculty at Wake Forest Law to teach contracts, the Jurist wrote about him: “His exuberant style and fresh approach to his material have led him to be accused of having ‘an evangelical approach to the UCC.’” Professor Covington, who taught at Wake Forest Law for 25 years, was beloved by students and faculty alike, and developed close relationships with many people in the Law School community. Although he was not officially conferred the title of Professor Emeritus at the time of his retirement in 2003, thanks to Professors Steve Nickles and Ellen Murphy (JD ’02), and alumnus and Law Board of Visitors Member, Charlie Trefzger, this oversight was remedied this past March.

On Wednesday, March 29, 2023, Professor Covington and his wife Marie walked into the Forsyth Country Club for dinner. Little did Professor Covington know that he would be greeted by a room of people who were there to celebrate his legacy at Wake Forest Law and honor him with the title of Professor Emeritus. In attendance at the event were Professors Steve Nickles and Ellen Murphy (longtime friends of Professor Covington and Marie), Interim Dean Nell Newton, former Dean of the Law School Bob Walsh and his wife Kathy, Law Board of Visitors member and past chair Charlie Trefzger (JD ’84, P ’10, P ’12), Professor Eleanor Morales (JD ’10) and her husband Francisco Morales (JD ’11) and Associate Director of Development Web Alexander (’88) and his wife Beth Alexander. “He didn’t know he was being honored with emeritus status at that dinner,” said Charlie Trefzger. “He was completely surprised.”

During his tenure at Wake Forest Law, Professor Covington was voted teacher of the year six times by the third-year class (a record), he served as the faculty advisor to BLSA for 16 years, and he was known for his engaging, insightful classes. “Butch ascribed to the ‘three strikes and he’s out’ rule,” said Charlie. “If he called on three people and all three were unprepared for class, he would walk out. He expected a high level of commitment and performance from his students—which he reciprocated in spades.”

In fact, his dedication to his students was so inspiring that Charlie, Professor Covington’s former student and dear friend, even established the I. Boyce Covington Law Scholarship in 2006, to honor Butch and to provide financial assistance to law students based on merit and need. “I wanted to give back to the law school that helped me become what I am today,” said Charlie. “And Butch invested in me in such a significant way that it only felt fitting to name the scholarship in his honor.”

At the dinner, guests spent the evening reminiscing about Professor Covington’s time at Wake Forest Law, telling stories about his BarBri work, and catching up on his retirement. The night ended with Interim Dean Newton presenting Professor Covington with an official document from the Provost’s Office naming him Professor Emeritus, nunc pro tunc—indicating that the honor was always there, but now it was officially recognized. Indeed, Professor Covington’s legacy as a revered and cherished member of the faculty and of the community has persisted in the 20 years since he last stood at the front of a classroom at the Law School.

In a 2002 issue of the Jurist, Professor Emeritus Ralph Peeples wrote about Professor Covington and his teaching, “It was the fact that he cared about what he was doing, and that he cared about the students he was teaching. The students knew that. They could tell by the way he would call them each by first and last name, without the benefit of seating charts. They could tell by his smile, or by the tone of his voice. If they required further proof, they could learn that Butch Covington could go through their class roster and tell you something different and unique about each one of them. It’s hard to fake sincerity, and it’s hard to fake affection. Butch Covington has never needed to, in all his years of teaching. It has always come naturally.”

Without teachers like Butch Covington, who devoted so much of his time and energy to his students, Wake Forest Law would not be what it is today.

Donate to the I. Boyce Covington Law Scholarship via this form or by mail to Law School Development, Wake Forest University, P.O. Box 7227, Winston-Salem, NC, 27109.

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Professor Nell J. Newton, who led Notre Dame Law School as dean for 10 years, was named interim dean at Wake Forest School of Law.

Professor Nell J. Newton, Notre Dame Law School’s 10th dean for ten years, has been named as interim dean for Wake Forest School of Law. She is a leader in legal education and has been for more than 20 years. In addition, she has served as dean of prominent law schools nationwide since 1998. Continue reading »

Class of 2025 breaks records to become one of the highest credentialed classes of Wake Forest Law

On Monday, August 15, the Class of 2025 entered Worrell Professional Center as the newest members of the Wake Forest Law community. Excited to embark on their legal journey, the students filled the law school’s auditorium to officially kick off Foundations Week. Interim Assistant Dean of Student Affairs & Executive Strategy Branden Nicholson was able to welcome the students. Continue reading »

Meet Anna Alieksieieva (LLM '22)

At Wake Forest Law, we pride ourselves on welcoming students that come from anywhere and go everywhere. But very few come so far to be with us as our international LL.M. students. We sat down and talked with Anna Alieksieieva, a fresh graduate from the Class of 2022, about how she got here and where she’s going. Continue reading »

“Redemption” for a Wake Forest Law Veterans Legal Clinic Client

Due to the efforts of Veterans Legal Clinic students Allison Spears and Walker Helms, under the supervision of Clinic Director Eleanor Morales, a clinic client now has an Honorable discharge and veteran status under the law. Continue reading »

Faculty Highlight: Sarah Morath

Professor Sarah Morath is an expert on legal writing pedagogy who also teaches and publishes on a wide range of topics related to environmental law, food law and policy, agriculture, and natural resources law, among other subjects. Her scholarly contributions to the field of legal writing are extensive. Her recently published book, Our Plastic Problem and How to Solve It, was created from her expertise in both writing and environmental law. Continue reading »

American Bar Association survey shows over 96% employment rate for Wake Forest Law in 2021

The American Bar Association (ABA) recently released the law school employment results for 2021 graduates from law schools across the country. Wake Forest Law ranked No. 3 out of 196 law schools in the number of graduates employed in full-time, long-term positions requiring a bar license or for which the JD is an advantage. As of March 15, 2022, 96.53% of Wake Forest Law’s 2021 graduates have employment in these “gold standard” jobs.

The class of 2021 has made its mark at the Wake Forest University School of Law. Graduates play an integral part in the institution’s future. When students come to law school, they have the reasonable expectation that they will pass the bar, get a meaningful job and not have enormous debt. Wake Forest Law is meeting those expectations. Being ranked No. 3 further confirms that a Wake Forest Law education propels students forward.

“These positive outcomes certainly reflect the quality of our students and the education they receive, but it is also a result of the investment of the law school in working with students from their first year of law school on the formation of a professional identity: understanding the career options available, internalizing the character qualities of a lawyer, and having the right tools to seek out and obtain the opportunities they want” said Francie Scott, Assistant Dean for Career & Professional Development. “We have a highly professional staff that provides key industry knowledge, maintains strong relationships with alumni and other stakeholders, and is deeply committed to seeing each student succeed.”

The ABA employment ranking is just the latest news involving Wake Forest Law’s outstanding reputation. On March 29, 2022, U.S. News & World Report ranked Wake Forest Law No. 37 out of the top 50 law schools in the country, tying with Boston College (MA), Fordham University (NY), University of California–Davis, University of California–Irvine, and University of Utah (Quinney). While the school consistently ranks among the top-tier law schools, this is the second rise in the rankings in the last two years.

“It doesn’t surprise me that Wake Forest Students are getting wonderful jobs. They are smart, strategic, collaborative and, despite all their talent, do not act as if they are entitled,” said Dean Jane Aiken. “The class of 2021 shows that what we are doing at Wake Forest Law is working!”

Kerrie Edmondson (JD '18), a team player through and through

Kerrie Edmondson (JD ‘18) is an Associate Attorney at Winston & Strawn LLP in Charlotte, North Carolina, one of the law firms representing the U.S. women’s soccer team in their lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. It was the dream assignment for her, as she is both a soccer player and an attorney who is passionate about helping athletes. Being part of the team that helped U.S. women’s soccer achieve a landmark settlement that is being seen as a significant precedent in the ongoing struggle for women to achieve equal pay for equal work is already a highlight in her young career.

After graduating from Wake Forest Law, Edmondson went to work in the New York City office of Winston & Strawn before moving to Charlotte. She is licensed to practice in both states, so many of the cases she takes on are from both locations.

“I think Wake Forest Law helped prepare me for my work by encouraging me to think analytically and tackle legal issues with confidence” said Edmondson when asked about her success, “I know how to analyze the legal issues and facts for each case, think critically, and frame things persuasively. The conversations we had with professors in small classes where we explored theories and ideas freely are unique to Wake Law.”

Edmondson reflects on her time at Wake Forest Law often, mostly on the relationships she developed with faculty.

“I am still in touch with many of my professors and go to them for advice” said Edmondson, “They were always available for advice on the class subject matter or career decisions. I know my colleagues from other law schools did not have the same experiences with their professors that I did.”

Edmondson could not comment much on the USWNT’s settlement in the equal pay lawsuit, as the settlement process is still ongoing. Her motivation to help athletes, partnered with her passion for learning new processes and bettering her skillset has driven her success in sports law.

When asked what it meant to be a part of such a historic case, Edmondson said, “I am proud to be a part of this case as a female soccer player and a female lawyer.”

Beyond Innocence: Darryl Hunt and the Fight for Justice in America, Exhibit, Panel Discussion & Reception

This event has been postponed to the Fall 2022 semester.

Wake Forest Law will be hosting Beyond Innocence: Darryl Hunt and the Fight for Justice in America next Fall. This event will premiere The Darryl Hunt Case Archive with an exhibit, and the book Beyond Innocence: The Life Sentence of Darryl Hunt written by Wake Forest University Professor Phoebe Zerwick. The collection is a living archive of trial transcripts, motions, exhibits, newspaper articles, personal notes and other correspondence between Darryl Hunt, Prof. Mark Rabil, and others. They were gathered over the decades-long fight to overturn Mr. Hunt’s conviction.

Darryl Hunt was twice wrongfully convicted of the murder of a local newspaper editor and served nearly twenty years before the crime was solved with DNA evidence in 2003. During this time, Wake Forest Law Professor Mark Rabil worked tirelessly to prove Mr. Hunt’s innocence, and was aided in his efforts by an award-winning series of articles by Professor Phoebe Zerwick in the Winston-Salem Journal.

The archive will be a valuable resource for the community and scholars in the study of wrongful convictions, as well as helping understand the complex trauma inflicted on the wrongfully incarcerated. Most importantly, it provides insight into the real man who stood up to the justice system and fought for decades for his freedom.

Panel: Thursday, March 17 — 5pm, Room 1312

Join the panel for a discussion of the archive, the case, and its significance on shedding an important light on the American justice system:

  • Corey D. B. Walker, Professor of the Humanities and Director, Program in African American Studies, Wake Forest University (Moderator)
  • Mark Rabil, Clinical Professor of Law, Director of Innocence and Justice Clinic, Wake Forest University School of Law
  • Leslie Wakeford, Metadata Services Librarian and Archivist, Wake Forest University School of Law
  • Phoebe Zerwick, Associate Professor of the Practice, Department of English and Director, Journalism Program, Wake Forest University; author of Beyond Innocence: The Life Sentence of Darryl Hunt

Exhibit: Thursday, March 17 – All Day, Law Commons

Reception: Thursday, March 17 – Worrell Courtyard, Immediately following Panel Discussion

Event sponsors:

  • Wake Forest Law Criminal Justice Program
  • Wake Forest Law Innocence and Justice Clinic
  • Wake Forest University Journalism Program
  • Wake Forest University African-American Studies Program



RSVP to this event here


Legal Analysis, Writing and Research (LAWR) Program Ranked 5th in the Nation


The U.S. News & World Report 2022 Best Graduate Schools Rankings – Law Schools has ranked Wake Forest University School of Law’s Legal Analysis, Writing & Research (LAWR) program #5 in the nation.

LAWR courses are designed to teach students how to research and analyze legal problems and how to use language with precision, clarity, and persuasiveness. The skills students learn in LAWR are foundational and essential components of the practice of law, no matter how they choose to use their law degree. This rise in the ranking into the Top 5 recognizes Wake Law’s commitment to producing graduates who excel in the foundational research, analysis, and writing skills that legal practice requires.

Our legal writing faculty are experienced teachers, respected scholars, and national leaders in the legal writing community. Laura Graham, Wake Forest LAWR’s program director, will be taking on the role of President of the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) in August 2021. Professor Graham is also celebrating ten years of authoring Writing that Works, a column published in the North Carolina Bar Association’s magazine, The North Carolina Lawyer. She also continues to serve on the NCBA’s Communications Committee.

Wake Forest LAWR faculty are also represented in leadership levels of the Legal Writing Institute (LWI). Abigail Perdue is Co-Chair of its New Member Outreach Committee and a contributing author to LWI Lives. Sarah Morath serves on the Governing Board of the Sirico Scholars’ Workshop and is a Managing Editor of Legal Writing: The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute. Brenda Gibson chairs LWI’s Awards Committee and is a member of the editorial board of LWI’s Monograph Series.

Christine Nero Coughlin continues to publish in several disciplines. She co-authored the book Modern Legal Scholarship: A Guide to Producing and Publishing Scholarly and Professional Writing, published by Carolina Academic Press, and The Stories We Tell: Narrative, Policymaking, and the Right to Try, a symposium article for the Wake Forest Journal of Law and Policy, with Professor Nancy M.P. King.

Hal Lloyd continues to publish in various areas and has a forthcoming article on semiotics in the University of Richmond Law Review.  He is also a member of the ABA Standing Committee on Gavel Awards and advises the Wake Forest Law School Transactional Competition.

John Korzen continues his important work as Chair of the North Carolina General Statutes Commission. He also serves as a member and sub-committee chair of the NCBA’s Appellate Rules Committee. Professor Korzen maintains an active appellate practice as Director and Supervising Attorney for Wake Law’s Appellate Advocacy Clinic. Clinic students are currently representing numerous clients in the Supreme Court of the United States, the North Carolina Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

Wake Forest University School of Law is incredibly proud to count these talented and accomplished professors as its faculty. Now they can add being in the Top 5 of LAWR programs in the nation to their already impressive list of accomplishments.