Category Archives: Of Interest to Law Students

New Arrival! New Book!


North Carolina Local Government Contracting: Quick Reference and Related Statutes

A quick reference for the contracting, bidding, and property disposal requirements applicable to North Carolina local governments, this publication provides general guidance to public officials and others interested in the public contracting process. Selected North Carolina General Statutes governing contracting and bidding are also included. The table of contents can be found at

Written by Norma R. Houston and published by the UNC School of Government, this 2014 guide has been added to the Charlotte School of Law Library collection. After being on display, the book can be found in the Reference Carolinas section of the library.

We would especially like to thank Charlotte School of Law alumnus, Emery Ashley for donating this very practical resource to our collection!  Be sure to check it out!

~Betty Thomas~

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Dean Smith: Our Loss.


Grit, tenacity, perseverance. We talk with our students at Charlotte School of Law about these qualities a lot. Dean Smith personified these characteristics and others. For more than 40 years, he coached. He led the Carolina Tar Heels’ men’s basketball team to become a winningest coach with a record 879-254. That’s 1,133 games!  In addition, the Tar Heels won 13 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) championships, 11 Final Four tournaments, an Olympic Gold medal and NCAA Championships in 1982 and 1993.

Integrity and humility. Despite this record, he was a humble man who made his players point to the passer when they scored and never took the credit when his teams won. I graduated from Chapel Hill in the era of Phil Ford, Mitch Kupchak, Walter Davis, and the “Four Corners” offense. He stood out from other coaches at that time in making sure academics were a priority. In the end, 96% of his athletes graduated.

Kindness. A good friend of mine tells a story of Dean Smith’s “family.” Her father-in-law helped coach under Dean Smith for a year, many years ago. Years later Dean Smith would recognize my friend’s husband in a restaurant and greet him by name. He knew their children and followed their achievements.  They were not the only ones.

Courage. Dean Smith stood for what he thought was right, even when it was not socially acceptable. He gave an opportunity to Willie Cooper, the first black student to play varsity basketball at an ACC school. He recruited Carolina’s first black scholarship athlete, Charlie Scott.  He spoke out against social issues that he felt were wrong.  Charlotte Law Professor Cindy Adcock has eloquently written about Dean Smith’s actions relating to the death penalty in her blog: Struggling to Breathe.

He was the epitome of a good man.

Sadly he is gone. He died earlier this month at the age of 83.

~Betty Thomas~

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Holmes and Jobs: Lessons for and about Charlotte School of Law

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. noted that “[t]he best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.”  Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616 (1919)(Holmes, J., dissenting).  Coupled with his observation “that time has upset many fighting faiths,” Justice Holmes illuminated the path that new ideas typically must travel as they vie for acceptance and predominance.  Implicit in this premise is the understanding that the viability and utility of an idea are measured not by the moment but over the course of time.

Charlotte School of Law, in the most fundamental sense, is an idea.  It is an idea whose time came because of legal education’s slow response to the dramatic changes that are transforming the legal profession.  The model for what became Charlotte School of Law was conceptualized and developed by legal educators who have responded to the legal profession’s plea for law schools to become more closely aligned with the new realities of law practice.  What has emerged is an institution more centered on facilitating student success, enabling professional readiness, and providing opportunities for qualified students who too often have been denied opportunity due to a perverse obsession with an increasingly outmoded ranking system.  Our mission has attracted the support and engagement of recognized leaders in legal education and the legal profession.

Professor Bill Henderson (recognized by National Jurist as the second most influential person in legal education) has observed that, as most law schools struggle to adapt to new market realities, leadership in legal education is “up for grabs.”  Schools that best adapt invariably will capture the mantle of leadership for the 21st Century (which, incidentally, is our mission).  Noting that new leadership in legal education will emerge within the next two decades, Professor Henderson has characterized us as “people who could make a difference.”

As we pursue our mission of leadership through change, it is worth recalling Steve Jobs’ observation that “people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”  Our objective is to change not the entire world but the world of legal education.  The path for change leadership is not a straight line or without its speed bumps or setbacks.  New ideas also encounter resistance and detractors.  The reason that our “idea” ultimately will prevail in the “competition of the market” is because it represents what the market itself has been demanding.  As judgment becomes increasingly informed about us, and so long as we maintain the courage of our convictions and commitment to continuous improvement, some of today’s “fighting faiths” will become unsettled.  It will be these developments over the course of time, as opposed to any given moment, that establish our leadership and consequent appreciation in the value of the education we provide.

~Don Lively (President), Charlotte School of Law~

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JD Career Fit: Equipping Students for Long-term Career Success

Career Fit

On Saturday, February 7, 2015 the Center for Professional Development (CPD) of Charlotte School of Law  hosted Session 1 of its innovative workshops geared toward cultivating the practical, or ‘soft’ skills needed to be successful in the law profession.  This effort aligns with CharlotteLaw’s commitment to providing experiential learning from the first day of class to add value to any organization upon graduation.

The JD Career Fit program is a requirement for graduation and includes two sessions to be attended by students in their first semester.  Developed by CPD staff, the program focuses on self-assessment and self-knowledge as the basis of creating individualized career plans and objectives that uniquely fit the skills, interests, values and strengths of each CharlotteLaw student.

Students attending JD Career Fit first seek to gain a true sense of self to lay the foundation for personal development.  On-going exercises throughout the program enable students to establish personal brand, utilize social media effectively, develop their image, and perfect the art of networking.  Employers in the law profession have identified these skills as among the top performance gaps they find in newly-graduated law students.

Aretha Blake, Director of CharlotteLaw’s Center for Professional Development noted “By requiring students to attend JD Career Fit, we are sending them a message of the importance practical skills play to supplement academic theory.”

Session 2 of the program will be held on Saturday, March 21, 2015.  For more information, contact CPD at

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Court to Review Gay Marriage Laws this April


In a Charlotte School of Law blog published on November 18, 2014, the question was raised as to whether the U.S. Supreme Court would review America’s gay marriage laws this year?  The U.S. Supreme Court has since agreed to review four lower Court cases on the subject.  Specifically, the Court will address the following questions:

  1. Does the 14th Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
  2. Does the 14th Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between 2 people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

The Charlotte Observer said on January 17, 2015 that the consolidated cases to be heard this spring will be from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and the cases are from the following states: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

The petitions for writs of certiorari were granted to the following cases from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals:

  1. OBERGEFELL v. HODGES - Ohio Docket No. 14-556
  2. TANCO v. HASLAM  – Tennessee
  3. DEBOER v. SNYDER - Michigan, 14-1341, 2014 BL 314380 (6th Cir. Nov. 06, 2014) Copy of Appeals Court decision which was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. 
  4. BOURKE v. GREGORY - Kentucky

A copy of the full Opinion from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals can be found at

(The case that was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court from the 6th Cir. Court of Appeals).

U.S. Law Week summarized the opinions of both the majority Judges and the one Dissenting Judge from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in their November 11, 2014 edition of. U.S. Law Week written by Kimberly Robinson.

Below are excerpts from Ms. Robinson’s published article:

 Same-Sex Marriage Bans Upheld in Sixth Circuit Appeals Court Opinion (excerpts with Analysis) provided by Kimberly Robinson

Regardless of when—or if—the Supreme Court does agree to hear the case, the Sixth Circuit’s divided decision makes it the first federal appeals court to uphold a state same-sex marriage ban since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in United States v. Windsor, 81 U.S.L.W. 4633, 2013 BL 169620 (U.S. June 26, 2013).

Writing for the majority in the Sixth Circuit’s 2-1 decision, Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton said that the issue is “not whether American law will allow gay couples to marry; it is when and how that will happen.”

The court detailed the claims brought by the 16 gay and lesbian couples, noting that all the suits “seek dignity and respect, the same dignity and respect given to marriages between opposite-sex couples. And all come down to the same question: Who decides?”

The court concluded that the matter is reserved for the “less expedient, but usually reliable, work of the state democratic processes,” rather than for federal courts.

The judiciary’s role is limited to the question of whether the 14th Amendment prohibits “a State from defining marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman,” the court said, not “whether gay marriage is a good idea.”

After applying rational basis review, the court answered that question in the negative.

“A dose of humility makes us hesitant to condemn as unconstitutionally irrational a view of marriage shared not long ago by every society in the world, shared by most, if not all, of our ancestors, and shared still today by a significant number of the States,” the court said.

In particular, the court said that the states could justify their bans on the procreative purpose of marriage.

“By creating a status (marriage) and by subsidizing it (e.g., with tax-filing privileges and deductions), the States created an incentive for two people who procreate together to stay together for purposes of rearing offspring,” the court said.

“That does not convict the States of irrationality, only of awareness of the biological reality that couples of the same sex do not have children in the same way as couples of opposite sexes and that couples of the same sex do not run the risk of unintended offspring.”

The appeals court also upheld Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee laws that prohibited recognition of same-sex marriages validly entered into in other jurisdictions.

Judge Deborah L. Cook joined the majority opinion.

Betrayed Oath?

Dissenting, Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey criticized what she called the majority’s “false premise—that the question before us is ‘who should decide.’ ”

“In the main, the majority treats both the issues and the litigants here as mere   abstractions,” she said.

“Instead of recognizing the plaintiffs as persons, suffering actual harm as a result of being denied the right to marry where they reside or the right to have their valid marriages recognized there, my colleagues view the plaintiffs as social activists who have somehow stumbled into federal court, inadvisably, when they should be out campaigning to win ‘the hearts and minds’ of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee voters to their cause.”

Daughtrey also appeared to accuse the two judges who signed on to the majority opinion of betraying their judicial oath, saying: “More than 20 years ago, when I took my oath of office to serve as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, I solemnly swore to ‘administer justice without respect to persons’ to ‘do equal right to the poor and to the rich,’ and to ‘faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me … under the Constitution and laws of the United States.’ ”

“If we in the judiciary do not have the authority, and indeed the responsibility, to right fundamental wrongs left excused by a majority of the electorate, our whole intricate, constitutional system of checks and balances, as well as the oaths to which we swore, prove to be nothing but shams.”

A follow-up blog will be posted once the U.S. Supreme Court has issued its opinion which should be sometime between April and June this year.

~Jane Fraytet~

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