Alumni Q&A

Brooke Watson ’19

What has been one of your most rewarding experiences while serving as chair of the Young Alumni Leadership Council (YALC)?  

The most rewarding experience while serving as the chair of the YALC was the Charlotte FC event co-hosted with my fiancé, Fred Irving ’19 and friend, Maddy Thompson ’18, both on the YALC. Despite the soccer match occurring on one of the hotter days of the year, the event was well attended and received tremendous positive feedback. It was wonderful to see alumni from across a wide range of class years come together to enjoy an event and learn about ways to support the law school through volunteer opportunities and philanthropy. 

In what ways can young alumni have a unique impact on Carolina Law students? 

Young alumni have had the opportunity to begin the careers that current students are working hard to attain, yet young alumni are still aware of the challenges facing their peers who have not yet graduated. Through this unique situation, young alumni can not only contribute with monthly recurring gifts, but also serve as mentors to current students, participate in mock interviews and other recruiting efforts through the Career Development Office, and volunteer for and provide input regarding current law school initiatives.  

Why do you give back to Carolina Law?  

I give back to Carolina Law because Carolina Law provided me with the fundamentals to enjoy a successful legal career, and great colleagues who also happen to be incredible friends. My fiancé and I also met at Carolina Law, which certainly does not hurt our shared commitment to giving back. I benefitted from an academic scholarship that eased the financial burden of law school. I am grateful for all the ways Carolina Law set me up for success, and I give back to pay it forward.  

What is your favorite memory from law school?  

From late nights in the library studying for exams, to editing with my classmates in the Law Review suite, to blue cups at He’s Not, I have some excellent law school memories. Seeing the Duke-UNC game my 3L year is near the top of the list. While I am a Duke undergrad and the Tar Heels won that game, the game at Carolina after Zion’s shoe blew out for those who may be wondering, it has always been a bucket list item to see the rivalry in the Dean Dome.  

As an alum, what Carolina Law event do you look most forward to?  

I always look forward to the Scholarship Stewardship Luncheon. It is a unique opportunity to meet with current Carolina Law students who are preparing to enter the profession and directly benefitting from alumni philanthropy. It is enjoyable to be surrounded by their enthusiasm for the legal profession and donors who provide much needed support to Carolina Law. The smiles and laughs shared between donors and scholarship recipients highlight the benefits that philanthropy directed to Carolina Law has on both students and alumni.  

Munashe Magarira ’14

Tell us about your experience volunteering to speak to Carolina Law students at the Festival of Legal Learning. 

My colleague Ramona and I presented on legal writing, with the hope of providing additional legal writing tips to supplement what the 1Ls are learning in their Research, Reasoning, Writing, and Advocacy (RRWA) classes.  

It was a great experience both planning for and speaking at the Festival of Legal Learning. I don’t get as much opportunity to step back and think about why I or my peers approach certain “legal writing” decisions in roughly the same ways, so it was very helpful both for the presentation and my own work to reflect and identify some of these shared core principles, strategies, and mistakes, and (hopefully) convey those lessons in an interesting way that stuck.  

I also appreciate talking to and interacting with students. I would not be where I am today if it were not for the lawyers who helped me move my understanding of the law from the “what” of doctrinal classes, into the “how” of the actual practice of lawyering. 

In what ways was returning to Van Hecke-Wettach Hall and engaging with the students rewarding or meaningful to you? 

It was very rewarding to be back at the law school. I have a lot of fond memories there and grew up a lot during my time in law school. Interacting with and presenting to students was an opportunity to give back to a school that has meant a lot to me as a lawyer and as a person. 

What is one piece of advice you wish you had when you graduated from law school? 

Not to be too trite, but being a good lawyer, like being good at anything, requires constant effort. It is less a destination and more of a process. Some of the frustration I have felt in the past and even now is undergirded by a feeling that I should know or know more readily certain finer points of lawyering, and I wish I knew when I graduated that this feeling of being inadequate or of not having all the answers is a universal feeling shared by most people, even the lawyers in my field who I look up to as experts. 

What is your favorite memory from law school? 

It is hard to pick. As counter intuitive as this might seem, some of my favorite memories from law school were spending time with friends studying and in moments hanging out before final exams in the pro bono office. Looking back, those experiences, in both obvious and subtle ways, mirror my own experience now working with colleagues before a big deadline. As hard as it can be preparing for a final exam or merits hearing, working with a team that you like and trust makes the job easier. 

Pam McAfee ’94

Tell us about your experience volunteering to speak to Carolina Law students at the Festival of Legal Learning.  

I worked with David Luzum ’10 of Maynard Nexsen to talk about effective courtroom communication with Carolina Law students. While this is a topic that deserves nuance and could be covered in a multi-day seminar, we narrowed the focus to its core: (1) ensuring that any presentation provided to a court or jury covers the essential information one needs to make a decision, (2) using electronic presentation equipment vs paper documents, and (3) reviewing the reason for and importance of formality and professionalism in the courtroom, as well as other types of communication that go beyond the presentation of argument or evidence.  It was great to get to know David and to interact with the other alumni presenting at the Festival that day. 

In what ways was returning to Van Hecke-Wettach Hall and engaging with the students rewarding or meaningful to you?  

I love Carolina Law.  I’ve been fortunate to have several opportunities to talk to students since I took the bench, and I always leave those interactions energized and excited about our future lawyers. This was a standout opportunity because this group asked excellent questions. They even stayed past 5 p.m. (and into the cocktail hour – I was so flattered) to continue the discussions. The one-on-one conversations at the reception were especially meaningful as I spoke to students interested in my practice area or from my hometown. 

What is one piece of advice you wish you had when you graduated from law school?  

There are so many routes to get to what’s right for you, and so many definitions of success in a career. You won’t know what works for you until you try it, and once you set your heart on something, expect to get knocked down.  Then get up and brush yourself off and keep going. 

What is your favorite memory from law school? 

I competed in a moot court competition in Washington, DC with two stellar classmates. We pulled an all-nighter to finish the two briefs we had to submit. Those all-nighters can be either weirdly exhilarating or a waking nightmare, and this one was the good kind (except when all of the edits were wiped out in a “save as” error). I enjoyed every moment of preparing arguments, traveling, and competing.  It’s a wonderful thing to take on a challenge with smart, great people and I hope every student leaves UNC with a memory like that — not that I’m wishing all-nighters on them, but just the memorable upside.  

Gary London ’79

As you served on the Law Foundation Board, what did you find most surprising about how law school has changed since your time here?

The main thing that I’ve noticed has changed is the cost of attending law school. My parents weren’t in a position to pay my way to law school, so before I started Carolina Law, I took a year off, lived at home (not ideal for either me or my parents) and worked to save money. When I attended law school, I lived in Craig graduate dorm, worked in the law library, and worked each summer. Just doing those things allowed me to graduate without much student debt. That is no longer possible. Even though UNC is still a bargain compared to other law schools, students can no longer self-fund their education without significant post-graduate debt, which negatively effects students interested in going back to practice in small towns, government work, or public interest organizations.  

What has been one of your most rewarding experiences while serving on the Law Foundation Board?

People! Getting to know Dean Martin Brinkley, plus meeting faculty staff and members of the Foundation Board. Most alums can only judge the law school by its ranking, which, by the way, is very impressive. They don’t have the privilege of looking behind the curtain and meeting the dedicated, talented individuals at every level that make the law school the unique place it is.  

Why do you give back to Carolina Law?

To me the question really is, why wouldn’t I give back to the law school. The law school changed my life and gave me opportunities as a first-generation college graduate to achieve things that I never would have if the law school had not opened those doors. I was fortunate to come along when I could afford to go on my own. I really think it’s incumbent on us to help give this generation the same opportunities.  

What is your favorite memory from law school?

Sitting on the brick floor in the hallway eating lunch with my friends (space was at a premium even back then) realizing that everyone was suffering through the same bewildering experiences from 1st year exams to 2nd year job interviews to 3rd year nostalgia over the end of a 20-year educational journey. We built a bond that is just as strong today.  

As an alum, what Carolina Law event do you look most forward to?  

Of course nothing beats coming back to Chapel Hill any time of the year, but especially the fall when we had the Bluegrass and BBQ event. But as someone who lives in Birmingham, Alabama, I always appreciated when we had someone from the law school come down for an alumni event. It was a way for us expatriates to get together and relive the Chapel Hill experience.  

DJ Evans Class of 2025

Tell us a bit about your background and career goals.  

My name is DJ Evans, and I am a 2L at UNC Law. I am the son of two military parents and have lived in seven states. After graduation from Carolina Law, I plan to work in the private sector. 

What has been one of your most meaningful or helpful interactions with Carolina Law alumni?  

My most meaningful interaction with a Carolina Law Alumni was my judicial internship with The Honorable Resident Superior Court Judge David Lambeth. I learned a lot from Judge Lambeth and got to talk a lot about UNC sports. 

How has your scholarship impacted you and your education? 

My scholarship has impacted my education by allowing me to have more financial freedom and be able to put my focus on school. 

What is your favorite thing about Carolina Law? 

My favorite part about Carolina Law is the people. There are so many wonderful people here, which has allowed me to build a great and supportive community.