Hampton. At UNC, she was a member of Phi
Mu. Brad S. Langdon (’ 72 AB), 58, of
Winter Park, Fla.; Oct. 11, 2006. Langdon was
president of his own mortgage brokerage firm.
He served in the Air Force and, at UNC,
belonged to Kappa Alpha Order and was a
member of the swim team.
’ 73 H. Spurgeon Mackie Jr. (’ 73
BSBA) of Gastonia, recently
retired from Wachovia Bank, has
been named executive director of the Community Foundation of Gaston County.
James Gordon Merrill (’ 73 ABED) of Virginia Beach,Va., has been named superintendent of the Virginia Beach City Public
Schools. E. Fitzgerald Parnell III (’ 73
JD) of Charlotte, a partner in Poyner &
Spruill LLP and past president of the N.C.
State Bar, has been elected a fellow of the
American Bar Foundation. Ronald
Moore Thompson (’ 73 AB) of Valdese,
principal in Thompson Realty, has been
For the Public Good
elected Region 4 vice president for the
National Association of Realtors. Thompson
will also serve as president-elect of the N.C.
Council of Residential Specialists.
Aubrey Daniel Turrentine III (’ 73), 58, of
Durham; Nov. 14, 2006. Turrentine was a
longtime employee of an auto parts
Carol Spruill ’ 71 accepted a challenge in charge for a day of this work and comparing
1991 to lead the Duke law school in devel- that to the minimum wage. “I later learned
oping one of the first formal law school pro about overhead,” Spruill admits, but that infor-bono programs in the country. That first year, mation didn’t stop her drive to see every person
70 students signed up for assignments to work with a reasonable case receive the representa-side by side with lawyers representing people tion they deserved.
who could not afford legal council. Last year,
309 students signed up and, doubling up on
assignments, filled 420 placements.
Spruill, now associate dean at the law
school, insists that credit for the high level of
participation goes to the students. She sees
more young people entering law school
ready for pro bono work, listing these interests and experiences on their applications. “I
no longer have to sell the idea,” Spruill says.
“I just give them the opportunities.”
Spruill’s faith in providing fertile soil and
allowing seeds of interest to grow comes
from her own experience at UNC. After taking a Carol Spruill ’ 71 signed on
to help Duke law school
political science course with Professor S. Ken- develop one of the first
neth Howard, Spruill convinced her mother and formal pro bono programs
sister to check out a local precinct meeting. in the country in 1991. Last
year, more than 300 students
Among just six attendees at the meeting, the filled 420 placements,
three Spruill women found themselves earning course credit for a
range of services they
assigned to work the precinct. Spruill’s father provide to those who can’t
eventually joined the family turn to hands-on afford legal representation.
civics, serving as mayor pro tem for Washington, N.C. In 1978, Spruill helped draft North Car-
On campus, Spruill participated in student olina’s first domestic violence legislation. She
government and the anti-war movement. She also was co-counsel in Carter v. Morrow, one of
earned a liberal arts degree but decided to go the first federal class action suits against the
on to law school at UNC because, as she N.C. Child Support Enforcement Agency for fail-explains with a bit of a laugh, “everybody was ing to assist those not on welfare with their
doing it. We saw a career in law as a means of child support cases. Spruill went on to work for
achieving social change and, for a female in the Legal Aid of North Carolina for another 13
1970s, a way to get above being a secretary!” years, serving as deputy director from 1984
She earned her law degree in 1975 and until 1991.
received a Reginald Heber Smith Community In 1991, Spruill answered an ad in Lawyers
Lawyer Fellowship the following year. She chose Weekly for a part-time position at Duke law
a placement in Winston-Salem for the first 18 school setting up a pro bono project. She got
months and then transferred to what is now the job, balancing out her days coordinating
known as the Raleigh office of Legal Aid of the sabbatical program sponsored by the Z.
North Carolina for the last six months of the fel- Smith Reynolds Foundation. In 1993, Spruill
lowship. Spruill remembers asking the many was offered the chance to teach a course on
pro bono lawyers she met what they would poverty law, and her job became full time. She
went on to serve as assis-
tant dean and then associ- profile
ate dean for academic
affairs. In 1999, Duke law
school established the Office of Public Interest
and Pro Bono, naming Spruill as the first
PHOTOS COURTESY CAROL SPRUILL ’ 71
Student opportunities under the pro
bono project today cover a range of interests, such as working with the Innocence
Project, the Refugee Asylum Support Project and the N.C. attorney general’s consumer protection division, or cases involving income tax assistance and legal
representation for minors. In one case, a
third-year student has been working since
starting law school on the defense of a
14-year-old girl from China appealing for
Every year, pro bono project participants
come together to celebrate the program with
an annual overnight retreat. Students listen to
speakers, share experiences and write a letter
to their future selves. Last year, a UNC law student asked to attend; this year, Duke has
invited each of the North Carolina law schools
to send two representatives.
When asked to share her own memories,
Spruill says she’s surprised by how vividly she
remembers one courtroom moment in particular. She was representing a foster family who
had been caring for a 10-year-old girl since her
mother had placed her in their home as an
infant. Ten years later, the father, who had no
legal rights, had pressed the court to hear his
case for custody. The foster parents produced
nearly a dozen witnesses, but the final testimony is the one Spruill remembers. The child
was brought into the court, and the judge
asked her what she called the couple who had
been her foster parents. When she answered,
“Mommy and Daddy,” the judge said that he
had heard enough and awarded custody.
That kind of moment, Spruill insists, is what
legal services is all about.