National Jurist names Sarah Saint (JD ’17) ‘Law Student of the Year’
Saint is the only law student from a North Carolina law school to be featured as “Law Student of the Year” and the second from Wake Forest Law. In 2016, the magazine recognized Carson Smith (JD ’16) as “Law Student of the Year.” Both served as the Pro Bono Project‘s executive director.
Dean Suzanne Reynolds (JD ’77) says, “Sarah and her work have earned this award. I remember walking into our building with Sarah her first day of law school, and I talked with her long enough to know that she was one in a million. The law school has been a better place because of her advocacy — and the world will be, too.”
Saint adds, “I am deeply humbled to be Wake Forest Law’s second ‘Law Student of the Year.’ Above all, I think this honor emphasizes the importance of living out the ‘pro humanitate’ motto of Wake Forest. Law school is a balancing act of investing in yourself while giving back to your community, and Wake Forest Law’s culture of excellence through service has enabled me to do just that. Through Wake Forest Law, I have had incredible opportunities to serve alongside passionate, dedicated future lawyers in all that I do, from coordinating pro bono projects to planning symposia to serving the LGBTQ+ community. That collaborative service is what this recognition honors.”
#WFULaw Alumni Spotlight
Winston-Salem-based business attorney Jeffrey Wolfe (JD ‘08) is uprooting tradition and setting trends for legal professionals and their clients.
His law firm — Forrest Firm based in Durham, North Carolina — is reclaiming customer service and employee work-life balance through the use of flexible workspace and client care.
Wolfe works two days each week out of Flywheel, a coworking space located in the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter. To keep overhead low and establish a work-from-anywhere model with attorneys, Forrest Firm decided to minimize real estate budget by renting office space without a long-term lease.
Wolfe’s atypical firm is a model for a new wave of entrepreneurial attorneys, in part, because it was founded on the idea of customer service.
“What we’re trying to do is fill a hole in the market where clients are frustrated with the responsiveness and cost of traditional law firms and attorneys aren’t happy in those environments but still want to practice law,” Wolfe said.
“Having young kids, I initially worked from home when I joined the Forrest Firm. While we have a dedicated office space for attorneys to work and meet with clients, we keep our overhead low by not having individual offices for each attorney and maintaining minimal support staff. That allows a collaborative environment where attorneys work in the same room at different workstations. If all of our attorneys came into the office on the same day, we wouldn’t have enough space, but it all works out since attorneys are regularly meeting with clients and working from alternative locations.”
As the firm’s client base grew, Wolfe and the founder of the firm, James Forrest, recognized the need to attract more attorneys.
“Attracting attorney talent can be hard, so we knew we needed a platform where our attorneys are happy and fulfilled in their work,” Wolfe said. “The work-from-anywhere policy fits that desire, and attorneys enjoy flexibility as they come and go in a healthy, sustainable work environment. Several of our attorneys are involved with other entrepreneurial endeavors that they may work on part of the day.”
As Forrest Firm pioneers the work-from-anywhere model, Wolfe believes it is important to maintain diversity in the types and sizes of firms for balance within the legal community to meet the needs of a diverse client base.
“We believe we fill a statewide gap,” Wolfe said. “Clients have myriad issues that need to be handled, and our firm is able to provide corporate legal services in a manner that consistently exceeds client expectations. In my case, I have a broad practice that helps clients through the entire lifecycle of their business and it is my job to connect our clients with attorney with more specific practice areas when needed, such as human resources, litigation and tax matters.”
After working with a large law firm in Raleigh for almost six years, Wolfe decided the long hours were not worth sacrificing time with his newborn son. Forrest inspired him to work for a smaller firm where flexibility and autonomy were encouraged that also had a mission to affect positive change in the local and global community. The Forrest Firm is a certified B Corporation, which is an affirmation of the firm’s commitment to clients, employees and the community.
Wolfe joined Forrest Firm in April 2014 as the firm’s second full-time attorney. Since then, Forrest Firm has grown to include 17 attorneys and 19 total professionals. The firm’s rapid growth led them to consider geographic expansion across North Carolina with offices in Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Winston-Salem and Wilmington.
“Part of the idea for coming to Winston-Salem was to expand statewide,” Wolfe said. “I volunteered to move to Winston-Salem and start an office. My wife is from the area, I spent three years here at the law school, and the move coincided with our church in the Triangle opening a church here.”
Wolfe, and his wife Brittaney, are currently involved in growing the Two Cities Church, 630 N. Patterson Ave., in downtown Winston-Salem.
“The church has been a great opportunity to quickly build a close community in Winston-Salem,” Wolfe said. “About 30 people from our old church moved to Winston-Salem with the hope of finding a job here. Because I’m with a firm that’s flexible and looking to expand, things really came together for me and my family.”
Since moving to Winston-Salem in April, Wolfe has been impressed with Wake Forest University’s expansion into downtown.
In addition to using Flywheel a few days each week, the Forrest Firm also has dedicated office space in Albert Hall, which is located in the Innovation Quarter as well. “When I visited Winston-Salem a few months before moving with a colleague, I thought he had driven to the wrong city when we parked at the Innovation Quarter. My initial reaction was, ‘We’re in Winston-Salem?’ I don’t remember what this part of town looked like before, but it’s certainly beautiful now,” Wolfe said.
“Since graduating, it’s been exciting for me to see the law school increase its commitment to the community, as well as the practical training of students. Part of the draw of the Innovation Quarter is accessibility: the med school is here to be accessible, the law school’s Community Law and Business Clinic is here to be accessible, and our firm is here to be accessible.”
Annual Fund at Work
Appellate Advocacy Clinic observes SCOTUS argument, meets with Justice Ginsburg
Members of the Appellate Advocacy Clinic traveled to Washington, D.C., to observe an oral argument at the U.S. Supreme Court and then had the extreme honor of meeting with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Feb. 27, 2017, says Professor John Korzen (JD ’91), clinic director.
The clinic members attended oral argument in Packingham v. North Carolina, a case involving a First Amendment challenge to a North Carolina statute. The petitioner was convicted of violating a state statute that prohibits all registered sex offenders from accessing any commercial social media websites that minors can join — which includes such sites as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn — even if their convictions had nothing to do with the internet. The petitioner, who years before had been convicted of a crime that had nothing to do with the internet, was convicted of violating the law after he noted on Facebook that he had had a traffic ticket dismissed and praised God. The clinic submitted an amicus brief on behalf of three organizations that support the petitioner’s First Amendment rights.
“The oral argument was outstanding,” Professor Korzen said. “Hearing Justice Kennedy use the concept of a ‘public square’ or Justice Ginsburg refer to the ‘marketplace of ideas’ in the modern First Amendment setting of the internet was fascinating.”
After the day’s arguments, clinic members met with Justice Ginsburg in the “Lawyers Lounge,” a conference room near the courtroom. Justice Ginsburg graciously answered numerous questions on a variety of topics, including memorable cases she has worked on, who inspired her as a writer and her advice for 3Ls about to enter the legal profession.
Drew Culler (JD ’17) wrote on Facebook, “Yesterday I met Ruth Bader Ginsburg. When asked about what young lawyers should be aware of, she said the following: ‘Upholding the fundamental values that our country was built on, like freedom of the press.’”
Fellow clinic member, Malorie Letcavage (JD ’17), added she is incredibly grateful to have the opportunity not only to hear an oral argument that the Appellate Advocacy Clinic had some part in, but to be able to meet Justice Ginsburg.
“It is not everyday that I get to meet one of my heroes, and hearing her speak only increased the incredibly high opinion I have of her,” Letcavage says. “Meeting Justice Ginsburg in person affirmed all the reasons I wanted to be a lawyer in the first place. She is proof that if you work hard and advocate for what you believe in, you can make a difference. The fact that she took the time to meet with our clinic and share her insights speaks to the caliber of person she is, as does her parting line before she left us, “Well I’ve got a lot of homework to do…” Meeting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will continue to be one of the highlights of my life, and I would have never had that chance without Wake Forest’s connections and network, as well as our amazing Appellate Advocacy Clinic.”
Business Law Program’s Sager Speaker Series hosts Corena Norris-McCluney (JD ’00), vice president and general counsel of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, on April 5
Corena Norris-McCluney (JD ’00), vice president and general counsel of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, will speak at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5, 2017, in the Worrell Professional Center, Room 1312, as part of the Business Law Program’s Sager Speaker Series. Lunch and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts will be served.
A graduate of North Carolina State University as well as Wake Forest Law, Norris-McCluney practiced with Kilpatrick Townsend LLP for nearly 12 years before joining Krispy Kreme in 2014. She clerked for the Honorable K. Edward Greene at the North Carolina Court of Appeals for two years before joining Kilpatrick Townsend.
Norris-McCluney, a native of North Carolina, was a 2012 recipient of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Citizen Lawyer Award. She was recognized for arranging for students at Cook Elementary School in Winston-Salem to participate in the Stories of Excellence luncheon series every month for five years at the time. The series featured inspiring speakers who share their stories of success with the fifth-graders, thereby planting the seeds of success for future generations. Norris-McCluney also provides volunteer leadership to the Carolina Tide Basketball Organization and Crisis Control Ministry, YMCA of Northwest North Carolina Metropolitan, Heartstrings Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Support Group, St. Paul United Methodist Church and the Winston-Salem Foundation.
“It is an honor to have Corena as our Sager Series speaker,” Professor Omari Simmons says. “She will discuss the general counsel role and the unique challenges today’s corporate counsel face.”
The Sager Speaker Series is named for Thomas Sager (JD ’76), former vice president and general counsel for Dupont Co., and current partner at Ballard Spahr LLP. Sager was a strong and early proponent of diversity in the legal profession and helped pioneer the DuPont Convergence and Law Firm Partnering Program, or DuPont Legal Model, an industry benchmark that has received national acclaim for its innovative approach to the business of practicing law.
“The Business Law Program is an excellent opportunity for students to enhance their readiness for the challenges of an increasingly complex legal environment,” says Sager, who is also a member of the Law School Board of Visitors.
The Sager Series is hosted by the Business Law Program, which is a student-centered program designed to expand student opportunities that strengthen knowledge of business law concepts as well as develop skills to assist professional development and readiness for practice. Professor Simmons who teaches Contracts, Business Associations, Advanced Corporations, among other courses, is the director of the program.
Previous Sager Series speakers include Justice Randy J. Holland of the Delaware Supreme Court and Sashi Brown, executive vice president of football operations for the Cleveland Browns.
#WFULaw Faculty Spotlight
Professor Omari Simmons authors forthcoming book, 'College Access from the Ground-Up: Narratives Transformed'
Professor Omari Simmons, Director of Wake Forest School of Law’s Business Law program, authored the forthcoming book, "College Access from the Ground-Up: Narratives Transformed" (Rutgers University Press).
According to Professor Simmons, “'College Access from the Ground-Up: Narratives Transformed' contextualizes the experience of one college access organization, the Simmons Memorial Foundation (SMF), within the broader realm of existing education practice, academic theory, and public policy.” Each chapter contains unfiltered vignettes and reflections from in-depth interviews with high school students as they navigate one of the most important decisions of their life: whether and where to attend college.
Professor Simmons is a recognized scholar on education policy and corporate governance. He is a member of the American Law Institute and the Executive Director of the Simmons Memorial Foundation (SMF), a nonprofit organization that provides college consulting services and mentoring to vulnerable students. He recently authored, “Judging the Public Benefit Corporation”, a chapter in "The Cambridge Handbook of Social Enterprise Law" (forthcoming Cambridge University Press).