The Wolfpack and the Tar Heels: A Long and Rich Partnership

June 1, 2020

NC State is the second highest feeder school for Carolina Law, trailing only UNC-Chapel Hill.

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College sports make for fun rivalries—particularly here in the Triangle. But when you look past the gridiron or the court, you’ll see that a deep-seated relationship between Carolina Law and North Carolina State University has been integral to North Carolina’s success. The longstanding connection between two powerhouse schools has produced some of the state’s greatest leaders. New collaborations are poised to raise the impact of the relationship to even greater heights.

The quality of undergraduate education at NC State is well known. Firms and companies want to hire lawyers with a variety of backgrounds, including the STEM fields for which NC State is famed. This makes it natural for Carolina Law to recruit at NC State. Each year, Carolina Law hosts visits from NC State’s undergraduate pre-law society. Members of Carolina Law’s admissions team routinely attend NC State’s NC Law School Showcase each fall. In fact, NC State is the second highest feeder school for Carolina Law, trailing only UNC-Chapel Hill undergraduates looking to become double Tar Heels.

Carolina Law’s involvement with NC State goes beyond recruiting students. The schools partner in ways that benefit students, communities and the economy of the state.

Raj Narayan,* Associate Director, Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology and Science, NC State; Clifton B. Knight ’74,* General Counsel, Bookspan LLP; Lewis Sheats*, Assistant Vice Provost, Entrepreneurship, NC State; Frank Buckless, Stephan B. Zelnak Jr. Dean of the Poole College of Management, NC State; Martin H. Brinkley ’92, UNC School of Law Dean and Arch T. Allen Distinguished Professor of Law. *Institute for Innovation Board of Advisers member. Photo by Ken Huth

With the 2019 launch of Carolina Law’s Institute for Innovation, which houses the Community Development Law Clinic, Startup NC Law Clinic and Intellectual Property Clinic, law students get hands-on training in providing early stage legal counsel for new for-profit and nonprofit ventures throughout North Carolina. The Institute serves business and social enterprise entrepreneurs at NC State through a partnership with NC State’s Poole College of Management.

The combination of a NC State undergraduate degree and a Carolina Law degree has produced a long list of distinguished and notable alumni, such as William B. Aycock ’48, William C. Friday ’48, J. Phil Carlton ’63, James B. Hunt ’64, Burley B. Mitchell Jr. ’69 and Clifton B. Knight Jr. ’74. Each has left an indelible mark.

William B. Aycock ’48

Chancellor Bill Aycock Seated at Desk
William B. Aycock ’48

Aycock graduated from NC State with a degree in education, earned a master’s degree in history from UNC, and then attended Carolina Law upon his return from serving in the U.S. Army during WWII. He graduated first in his class and was editor-in-chief of the North Carolina Law Review. Aycock joined the Carolina Law faculty immediately after graduation, the only person ever invited to do so. He served as the Chancellor of UNC-CH from 1957 to 1964, leading the university through the controversy over the Speaker Ban Law and hiring the legendary Dean Smith as UNC’s men’s basketball coach. Aycock was a beloved William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor of Law from 1948 to 1985, teaching courses in property, antitrust law and federal jurisdiction and winning the McCall Teaching Award a record six times.

William C. Friday ’48

Bill Friday
William C. Friday ’48

Friday received a bachelor’s degree in textile manufacturing from NC State in 1941, was president of the NC State student body, and earned his law degree from Carolina Law in 1948 after serving in the U.S. Navy during WWII. He spent the majority of his professional life in higher education and became the first president of the University of North Carolina System, a position he held from 1956 to 1986. After retirement, he served as executive director of the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust and hosted the public television talk show North Carolina People from 1971-2012. A nationally renowned university president, Friday was the founding co-chairman of the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

J. Phil Carlton ’63

J. Phil Carlton ’63

Carlton graduated from NC State in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. While still in college, he was as an assistant campaign manager in the successful gubernatorial campaign of Carolina Law alumnus Terry Sanford ’48. He received his law degree in 1963. Carlton served as a North Carolina district court judge from 1968 to 1977, when Governor Jim Hunt appointed him as the first Secretary for the North Carolina Department of Crime Control. In 1977, Hunt appointed him to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. He was then elected to the North Carolina Supreme Court and served as an associate justice until 1983, when he became a partner at Poyner Spruill. Hunt received a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education and a master’s degree in agricultural economics from NC State, where he served as student body president. He graduated from Carolina Law in 1964 after serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal.

James B. Hunt ’64

James B. Hunt ’64
James B. Hunt ’64

Hunt served as lieutenant governor of North Carolina from 1973 to 1977 during the gubernatorial term of another Carolina Law grad, James Holshouser ’60. He then served four historic terms as the governor of North Carolina from 1977 to 1985 and then again from 1993 to 2001, becoming the longest serving governor in state history. As governor, Hunt focused on early childhood development and the improvement of quality of teaching. His Smart Start program received the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award from the Ford Foundation and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Burley B. Mitchell Jr. ’69

Burley B. Mitchell Jr. ’69

Mitchell served in the U.S. Navy for four years before graduating from NC State in 1966 and Carolina Law in 1969. He served first as an assistant attorney general of North Carolina then as the elected district attorney of Wake County between 1969 and 1977. He went on to serve as a judge of the North Carolina Court of Appeals from 1977 to 1979. He was named by Governor Hunt to be Carlton’s successor as Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Crime Control. Mitchell served as an associate justice and the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court between 1982 and 1999. Mitchell wrote 484 decisions for the state’s highest court, including the landmark Leandro case declaring the constitutional right of all children to a “sound basic education.”

Clifton B. Knight Jr. ’74

Knight earned bachelor’s degrees in economics (1969) and sociology (1970) from NC State and his law degree from Carolina Law in 1974. He went on to earn his MBA from New York University in 1986. He serves as executive vice president for legal and business affairs and chief ethics and compliance officer at Bookspan LLC in New York. Greatly involved at both UNC and NC State, Knight created the Clifton B. Knight Jr. Scholarship at Carolina Law and the Clifton Brooks Knight Jr. and Raya Keis Knight Scholarship Fund at NC State’s Poole College of Management. He serves on the Board of Advisers of the UNC Law Institute for Innovation.

The symbiotic relationship between NC State and Carolina Law is as strong as ever—continuing to produce lawyer-leaders who follow in the esteemed footsteps of alumni like Aycock, Friday, Carlton, Hunt, Mitchell and Knight. The following four more recent graduates have used their training at NC State and Carolina Law to make a difference in North Carolina and beyond.

Ashle Page 3L

NC State (’17) bachelor of science in chemical engineering and bachelor of science in polymer and color chemistry, UNC School of Law (’20)

Ashle Page’s passion for public policy and science found a home at both UNC School
of Law and NC State. Page plans to pursue a career that combines her experience in technology and law. A summa cum laude graduate of NC State, Page sees commonalities in her undergraduate and graduate schools. “The opportunities for practical learning have allowed me to gain a sense of community and to have an impact on others,” says Page.

“A focus on experiential skills at NC State led me to a number of internships, including NASA, the Engineering Entrepreneurs Program, and as an editor for research journals, which built a foundation for other practical opportunities at Carolina Law, including pro bono, an externship with SAS Institute, and serving as an editor for the NC Journal of Law and Technology.”


A student entrepreneur who developed a medical device with classmates as an undergrad, Page notes the “strong sense of innovation present at both institutions.” She says that NC State supported her entrepreneurial endeavors while Carolina Law is allowing her to give back and to invest in future startups and small businesses through the Institute for Innovation’s Intellectual Property Clinic.

“At both universities, I have had the opportunity to engage in problem solving within large research institutions that have diverse experiences and local and global impact,” she says. “That focus on active scholarship connects both universities and ultimately cultivates student leadership and innovation.”

Wilson White ‘06

director of government affairs and public policy at Google, NC State (’03) bachelor of science in computer engineering, UNC School of Law (’06)

When Wilson White arrived at NC State on a Park Scholarship, his goal was to become
a software engineer. In fact, he worked as an engineer at IBM during his last year of college. “My mentor at IBM was a patent lawyer and I became fascinated with the idea of combining my engineering background with the law,” says White.

After receiving his law degree, White clerked for a year for a U.S. District Court judge in Maryland. He then spent four years practicing patent litigation at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton in Atlanta before heading west and joining Google at its California headquarters.

White started on the litigation team at Google before moving to public policy in 2013. He currently leads a global, 25-person team responsible for managing government affairs across Google’s core product areas, including Search, Advertising, Android, and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence.

“I love engaging with technology and its impact on society, which is colored by law and policy,” says White. “Working at the forefront of those issues globally is a dream job.”

He feels fortunate to run a global team. “I get to travel around the world, learn about and engage different cultures and policy frameworks,” he says. “One commonality we share as a global society is the important role technology plays in our daily lives.”

“UNC and State both have such a big impact on technology and the law, given the many alumni that are spread around the country and the world,” he says. “I like that both are public universities with a strong ethos rooted in giving back.”

“Even though I work at a very big company, I approach my work with a Carolina Law and NCSU ethos,” he says. “Whatever role I have is used to make the world around me a little bit better.”

Ray Starling ’02

general counsel of the NC Chamber and president of the NC Chamber Legal Institute, NC State (’99) bachelor of science in agricultural and extension education, UNC School of Law (’02)

Growing up on his family’s farm in Sampson County, Ray Starling planned to be a high school agriculture teacher. “My life was changed by my ag teachers and I was very interested in playing that role for other students,” he says.

During his agriculture studies at NC State, Starling took a year off to serve as a national FFA (Future Farmers of America) officer. “That experience—being involved with ag and ag policy at a national level—helped me realize we need great people in the classroom, but we also need good advocates in the policy world and at the counsel table.” That propelled Starling to enroll in Carolina Law.

“I’m that rare example of that kid who wrote in his law school application essay why he wanted to go to law school and is actually doing it,” laughs Starling.

In his current role at the NC Chamber, Starling says he is able to “meld and weld all of my experiences and interests” by combining his exposure to law, politics, agriculture and business. After graduating from UNC, Starling clerked for a year for NC Supreme Court Justice Mark Martin ’88 before joining the Raleigh office of Hunton and Williams.

He went on to become general counsel, first for the NC State Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and then for Thom Tillis when he served as speaker of the North Carolina House. When Tillis became a U.S. Senator, Starling followed him to Washington, D.C., serving first as general counsel and senior policy advisor and then the chief of staff. “Fourteen months later, I became the ag advisor to the president and eventually the chief of staff at USDA,” says Starling. “The common denominator in all of these positions is the ag law piece.”

“Law school, combined with my farming background and agricultural education, gave me the foundation to do exactly what I wanted to do: influence the ag economy through the law and policy. I don’t think I would have gotten to do that if I hadn’t gone to NC State undergrad and to Carolina for law school; I am so very grateful to these two flagship universities.”

Giovonni Wade

Giovonni Wade ’08

director of diversity initiatives in the UNC School of Law Career Development Office, NC State (’05) bachelor of arts in psychology and English, UNC School of Law (’08)

After graduating from UNC School of Law, Giovonni Wade spent the majority of her six
years in the legal field practicing education law at Schwartz and Shaw in downtown Raleigh before making the switch to working in higher education.

“Growing up, my mother taught me that education was the key to unlocking opportunities in life,” she says. “My parents were high school graduates and my grandparents didn’t graduate at all.” Now Wade spends her days helping Carolina Law students with their job and internship searches, with a special focus on ensuring that students from diverse backgrounds are aware of employment and career development opportunities.

Wade says that her undergraduate and graduate educations perfectly prepared her for her work. “Both institutions emphasized the importance of using your talents and skills to help others,” she says. And her degree in psychology reinforced her lifelong interest in people. “We all have back stories that everyone doesn’t see,” says Wade. “I love getting to know my students and their stories which helps me to better support them.”

“I feel privileged to play a role in helping our students secure life-changing opportunities. Serving as even a small piece of the puzzle in their lives is very fulfilling,” says Wade. “They have everything they need to succeed, but we all need somebody
who believes in and sees something in us. We don’t get where we are in life on our own.”

Wade returned to UNC after first serving as director and later assistant dean for the Office of Career and Professional Development at North Carolina Central University School of Law. “My current role presented a wonderful opportunity to come
back home,” she says. “UNC saw something in me and provided me with a valuable legal education. Now I’m giving back.”

— Michele Lynn

Read more from the spring-summer 2020 issue of Carolina Law magazine.