Tag Archives: Charlotte School of Law

Student Spotlight: Carol Naples

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On April 10, 2015, Charlotte School of Law’s Immigration Law Society hosted Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of national best seller of Enrique’s Journey, Sonia Nazario, through the leadership of 3L Carol Naples, child immigrant, loving wife, mother of two, and aspiring North Carolina and New Jersey immigration law attorney. Prior to coming to law school Naples worked in the not-for-profit and financing realm. However, her work experiences is not what peaked Naples interest in immigration—her life was.


Naples, was born in San Jose, Costa Rica and came to the United States when she was six years old. As a first grader, she struggled with speaking English and had a hearing impediment which made the first few years of elementary school difficult. Growing up in a military family, Naples moved from Fort Bragg, North Carolina to Tampa when she was nine. By the time Naples graduated high school, she had been through twelve different schools. After high school, Naples married her husband Alexander, who was also in the military. Immediately after giving birth to her two sons, Naples and her husband moved to Germany. In Germany, while Naples’ focus was on being a wife and mother, she attended college as a non-traditional student and obtained an Associate in Science in paralegal studies. When Naples’ sons were in high school, Naples stressed the importance of going to college. After pushing her sons for a couple years, Naples felt convicted to move forward with her studies. As a result, Naples pursued her Bachelors of Science in Management in 2011 from Montreat College. Fueling her passion for law, Naples applied to Charlotte School of Law and Charleston School of Law in 2011 but was not admitted. At the beginning of 2012, Naples’ undergraduate business law professor informed Naples about AAMPLE (Alternative Admission Model Program for Legal Education)—which offers determined individuals with lower traditional applicant criteria the opportunity to earn a place in the classroom by successfully completing two upper-level law school courses in six weeks followed by two law school final exams. Naples was accepted into the AAMPLE program and passed the required courses. Upon completion of the required courses, Naples was admitted into the fall 2012 class.

“This is a big accomplishment for my family and me,” Naples exclaimed. “My grandmother only had a second grade education level, and taught herself how to read by reading the Bible,” she said. Naples mother only completed a sixth grade education because she had to go to work to help feed the family. Naples is the first woman in her family to complete an education beyond elementary school. “Law school is a dream for me, but for those who came before me, it is a realization of the power of education,” Naples said.

Naples has been appreciative of all of her experiences at Charlotte School of Law. Although her law school journey has been a hard road to travel, Naples has usurp each obstacle as an opportunity to learn something new about the legal field and herself personally. During her time at Charlotte School of Law, Naples has enjoyed her Immigration, Race Law and Public Policy, Criminal Law, Interviewing, Counseling and Negotiations, and Advanced Legal Research courses. However, her clinical experience in the immigration clinic has had the most impact on her. “It has set me up to hit the ground running in my legal career,” said Naples.

Naples will be graduating from Charlotte School of Law with her J.D. on May 16, 2015. While Naples has been offered an opportunity to go into private practice, she is exploring a partnership opportunity with a CSL alumnus to establish an Immigration law firm. “I wanted to go to law school to become an immigration attorney, and because of [the opportunity that CSL has given me], I am going to make a difference in a person’s life—one person at a time,” said Naples.


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North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Sam J. Ervin IV participates in Charlotte School of Law’s “Law Week 2015”


Photo courtesy of indyweek.com

Charlotte School of Law’s (Charlotte Law) Student Bar Association (SBA) 2015 Law Week was held from April 6-10, 2015. This year’s Law Week theme was: Practice Readiness. With the assistance of 2L Spring Start Senator, Jhonathan Morales-Najera, Delta Theta Phi’s Dean, Mairim Zalez was able to host North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Sam J. Ervin, IV (Justice Ervin) at the law school. On Monday, April 6, 2015, Justice Ervin addressed a room full of over 70 Charlotte Law students about the transition from law school to the bench.

Justice Ervin is a graduate from Davidson College and Harvard Law. Upon graduation, Justice Ervin returned back to his hometown of Morganton, North Carolina where he practiced law with the Morganton firm of Byrd, Byrd, Ervin, Whisnant, McMahon, P.A. for eighteen years. In 1999, Justice Erwin was nominated for a seat on the North Carolina Utilities Commission by Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. Justice Erwin was nominated for a second term on the Utilities Commission by Governor Michael F. Easley in 2007. Justice Ervin was elected to the North Carolina Court of Appeals at the November 4, 2008, general election, and served on that body until he took office as a Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina on January 1, 2015, after being elected to that position at the November 4, 2014, general election.

During his speech, Justice Ervin discussed how he appreciated the direction that Charlotte Law as taking in integrating practice-readiness in its curriculum. Justice Ervin candidly shared that upon graduating from law school that he knew nothing about the real-world practice of law. Justice Ervin shared his first experience on the job where he didn’t know what pleadings were or how to properly filed documents with the court. Justice Ervin emphasized about how important it was to ask for help and to seek advice from senior partners. “Senior partners lived the situations that new attorneys are facing and most of the time are enthusiastic and willing to help,” said Justice Erwin.

Justice Erwin then opened up the floor for questions. One student asked, “What are some of the qualities that you expect from a law clerk?” Justice Erwin responded, “I expect my law clerks to have good research and writing skills, and have the ability to give good advice.” Justice Erwin explained how important it was for his law clerk to embody all three skills. “If you can research and present pertinent case law, have the brevity in writing to analyze the case law, and then give advice to your senior partner or judge as to how to rule or argue, you are gold,” Justice Erwin said.

Justice Ervin continued to elaborate on why it was important for his clerks to be able to give him advice on how to rule so that he can either use their recommendation in his decision or explain to them why he is going to rule contrary to their advice. This led Justice Ervin to his next point about how important it was for clerks to have good communication skills. Not only the kind that is good when arguing a case in front of the court, but throughout all aspects of the practice of law itself.

Finally, one student asked the question that many Charlotte Law students often think about: “Being that Charlotte Law is a new school, how do I overcome the barriers and stigmas associated with the school?” Justice Ervin quickly responded, “Charlotte Law is a great school and people always have something to say about something new.” “After ten years of practice, people will ask, and you should also ask yourself, what kind of an attorney are you?” Essentially, Justice Erwin placed the reputation of the school back in our hands. Justice Ervin alluded that it was our responsibility as graduates to be the best attorney that we can be so that we could increase the school’s reputation. In closing Justice Ervin stated, “After ten years of practice, it won’t matter where you went to law school or where you come from but instead what kind of reputation you are able to establish for yourself.” To connect with Justice Ervin and to learn more about Jhonathan Morales-Najera, see JMN Student Spotlight.


Pictured L to R: Jhonathan Morales-Najera, Student Senator; Justice Ervin; Mairim Zalez, Dean of Delta Theta Phi; and Marlowe Rary, 2015-2016 SBA President

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Student Spotlight: Jhonathan Morales-Najera

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Morganton, North Carolina offers more than “big city services wrapped in small town charm.” It is the hometown of Charlotte School of Law’s, first semester 2L and Student Senator, Jhonathan Morales-Najera (JMN.) JMN, a first-generation American-educated in his family, was born in Guatemala in 1991 and moved to the United States when he was five years old. After living two years in Anaheim, California, JMN moved to Morgantown, North Carolina where his parents and little brother resides to this day.


Charlotte School of Law’s Jhonathan Morales-Najera, 2L and Student Senator

JMN matriculated into Charlotte Law spring of 2014. Immediately upon his arrival, JMN became active not only in the greater Charlotte community where he served as the Third Vice President of the Young Democrats of Mecklenburg County, but on-campus as the 2L Spring Start Senator. JMN accomplishments and service within the campus community include: (1) winning the SELS volleyball tournament; (2) participating in the Kilpatrick Townsend Broun 1L Trial Competition; (3) assisting with graduation as a Charlotte Law Ambassdor; (4) organizing the first intra-mural soccer program; and (5) placing in the top four of CSL’s intra-school mock trial competition.

JMN has enjoyed his three semesters as Charlotte Law thus far. JMN’s favorite classes include Property and Civil Procedure. However, his top classes were Lawyering Process I and II with his favorite instructor, Professor Carla Boles.  Prior to coming to law school, JMN’s interest was to acquire a position within law enforcement. Despite interning with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations—second largest criminal investigative agency in the United States—JMN’s goal is to represent the community in either a private or public sector forum.

Currently, JMN is an officer candidate for the U.S. Marine Corps and applicant for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard JAG Corps. For summer 2015, JMN will be interning with the U.S. Navy JAG Corps at the Regional Legal Services Office in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where he will assist the office with providing comprehensive legal services and solutions to all Navy commands within the Hawaii area.

Jhonathan Morales-Najera is a graduate of UNC Charlotte with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and Political Science.  After obtaining his J.D. from Charlotte School of Law, JMN plans to earn an officer commission and serve as a JAG Attorney. His secondary option is to go back home to Morganton and work for the Law Offices of Victor Yamouti where he interned summer 2014. When JMN is not focusing on his law school studies, he enjoys playing golf, soccer, running uptown, playing football at Romare Bearden Park, eating at Cabo Fish Taco in NoDA, watching the Hornets play, and getting season tickets to the Panthers game.

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At Charlotte School of Law, Pro Bono Is Part of Mission

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The Charlotte School of Law is the only law school in the state that requires all of its students to perform pro bono work.

Why pro bono and why does CSL support such efforts? The central mission pillar of the school is serving the underserved. Since its founding in 2006, the law school has viewed experiential education — which includes the pro bono program — as an integral part of its curriculum.

A major goal of the pro bono program is to engage the student body with law-related service projects that provide an opportunity to develop practical skills.

An equally important goal is to allow students to do good in our community. Many CSL students have articulated a desire to use their knowledge of the law to help people and to do good as their main reasons for attending law school.

Pro bono has allowed our law students to develop legal skills through experiences not found in the classroom. By working on supervised pro bono cases, CSL students have improved their legal-research abilities while developing their interviewing and advocacy skills. Our students have learned professionalism — the importance of respecting others, preparing cases on time and submitting quality work product.

Pro bono also fosters direct client interaction. Through the work, CSL students have been able to meet clients in the community unable to afford legal help.

The work gives our students a window to gain awareness of the problems of the poor in finding legal help. Pro bono opportunities have permitted CSL student interaction with indigent clients and let them see the impact of their legal work on areas such as homelessness foreclosure, domestic violence, driver’s license restoration and criminal-record expunction.

Pro bono has encouraged our students to discover new areas of practice they might not have contemplated. A law student wondering what estate-planning attorneys do might volunteer for a local project on free wills. Another student interested in immigration law might volunteer for a pro bono naturalization workshop. These experiences provide moments of discovery where a law student might find a new lifelong passion in an established legal area.

Pro bono also has allowed our students to network and meet lawyers in the community. At an early part of their legal career, law students need mentor relationships that many in the profession know can be critical for success. It also has resulted in student interaction with judges — a way to meet members of the judiciary before actual appearances in the courtroom.

In addition, our faculty and staff have embraced the school’s mission pillar of serving the underserved. Our “Team Charlotte” has performed pro bono work involving civil rights, offered legal advocacy for victims of human trafficking and submitted friend of the court briefs for many nonprofit organizations.

Rule 6.1 of North Carolina’s Rules of Professional Conduct states that all lawyers should aspire to render at least 50 hours of pro bono legal services per year. Our students have embraced this pro bono ethic as evidenced by more than 143,000 volunteer hours served in the community.

During these uncertain economic times, the need for legal services has increased as the numbers of unrepresented individuals seeking legal help has grown. Charlotte School of Law students are truly making a difference in Charlotte and beyond.

The author, Sean Lew is a member of the Charlotte School of Law faculty and directs its pro bono program. He can be reached at slew@charlottelaw.edu.

This article originally appeared in the Charlotte Business Journal, May 1 2015, and has been reposted here with permission.

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Charlotte Law’s Immigration Law Society Hosts Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist Sonia Nazario


Tens and thousands of unaccompanied children every year have crossed our borders, fleeing the violence occurring in civil war-torn Central America. Carol Naples, CSL Immigration Law Society president realizes that the plight of these children is a humanitarian crisis, which we can help alleviate. As a result, on April 10, during Law Week, through Naples’ unrelenting efforts, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of national bestseller, Enrique’s Journey, Sonia Nazario addressed CSL students on how they can help alleviate this humanitarian crisis.

Nazario is an award winning journalist who spent over 20 years reporting and writing about social issues for various U.S. newspapers.  Nazario originally wrote about Enrique’s Journey as a series in the L.A. Times, which won her the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2003. Random House turned Enrique’ Journey into a book that became a national bestseller. In 2014, when there was an influx on unaccompanied minors at the border, Nazario went to Honduras to report on the crisis and her article was published in the N.Y. Times. Nazario consequently addressed the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Nazario has received various awards such as the George Polk Award for International Reporting, National Association of Hispanic Journalists Guillermo Martinez-Marquez Award, and Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. Nazario has been featured on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, NBC’s Meet the Press, and Anderson Cooper 360. Most recently, Nazario was named a 2015 Champion for Children by First Focus, and the 2015 Golden Door winner by HIAS Pennsylvania.

There were about forty students including Professor Nunez and Professor Judge Holmes-Simmons in attendance. Nazario spoke about what inspired her to write about Enrique’s journey and other broader immigration issues. Enrique’s Journey tells the story of a boy from Honduras and his quest to find his mother in the U.S. During the podcast event, Nazario talked about the personal risks she took by traveling with these young immigrants, retracing Enrique’s multiple attempts to find his mother. “I discovered that children were getting killed, maimed, abused en route by drug traffickers or gangs,” said Nazario. These children were then treated as criminals in the U.S. if they survived the trip.

After this experience, “situations like Enrique’s was a refugee crisis and not an immigration crisis,” said Nazario.

Kelvin Smith, a 2L attending the event shared his gratitude towards Naples for her efforts in providing Charlotte Law students an opportunity to ask Nazario questions about her book. Smith was enrolled in Professor Judge Holmes-Simmons, Undocumented Children and the Law course during fall of 2014 and was very excited about the opportunity. Nazario’s book is “a great insight to the dangerous journey thousands of children take each year from their home country to the United States seeking to reunite with family,” said Smith.

Graciela Mateo, a 2L and officer of the Immigration Law Society, was first introduced to Nazario’s book in her Latin American Studies class at UNC-Charlotte. Getting to meet Nazario and hearing her point of view was an eye opening experience for Mateo. She was amazed as to how open Nazario was about her journey and writing this story. “I think I was shocked to hear that she now suffers from PTSD,” she said. “It was admiring to hear how Nazario wanted to tell the truth and wanted to take this journey to keep the story authentic.” Mateo further shared.

Professor Nuñez, supervising attorney of the Immigration Law Clinic and attendee, was very impressed by Naples’ resilience to bring Nazario, a nation-wide known author and lecture to present to CSL students and inform them about immigrants and their plights. Professor Nuñez expressed his sincerest gratitude towards Naples work.  “Thanks to the perseverance and relentless of [Carol] Naples, who never saw any of the ‘unsurmountable’ obstacles but instead, the benefits to use all by having such a high caliber speaker before the CSL community.” “We are extremely grateful to Naples for exemplifying GRIT,” said Nuñez.

Pulitzer Prize winning author Sonia Nazario’s appearance at the Charlotte School of Law enhanced the schools understanding of the plight of the undocumented child. It was clear that Nazario truly experienced the difficulties and trials these children endure as they make their journey to the United States. “My class ‘Undocumented Children and the Law’ was given new meaning by her presence,” said Professor Judge Holmes-Simmons. To access the podcast event, contact naplesc@students.charlottelaw.edu.

Pictured: Immigration Law Society Treasurer addressing Sonia Nazario.

Pictured: Immigration Law Society Treasurer addressing Sonia Nazario.

~ Maritza T. Adonis ~

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