Women judges to students: 'Be ready to help others'

Seven jurists from across the state, including an associate justice on the Supreme Court of North Carolina and two Elon Law alumni, visited Greensboro on April 29 to offer advice for students who attended a program hosted by the Women's Law Association.

Chief Judge Linda McGee of the North Carolina Court of Appeals
A panel comprised of some of the state’s top women judges visited Elon Law for a panel discussion hosted by the Women’s Law Association aimed at inspiring female students to consider legal careers on the bench.

Two of the judges on April 29 were the first two Elon Law alumni elected to the bench since the law school’s charter class graduated a decade ago: The Hon. Carrie Vickery L’09 and the Hon. Sarah Neely Lanier L’10, both serving on the North Carolina District Court.

Other panelists included:

  • Associate Justice Robin Hudson (Supreme Court of North Carolina)
  • Chief Judge Linda McGee (North Carolina Court of Appeals)
  • Judge Lucy Inman (North Carolina Court of Appeals)
  • Judge Teresa Vincent (North Carolina District Court)
  • Judge Denise Hartsfield (North Carolina District Court)

Over the course of an hour, the seven judges shared stories from their careers and emphasized the importance of a judiciary that reflects surrounding communities. Each had a different path to the bench – from appointments to fill vacancies to enjoying the politics of campaigning to finding inspiration in family members who had served as judges.

“There’s nothing like wanting to be a judge to make you a better lawyer,” Inman said. “You’re constantly thinking, ‘I have a goal in mind. Is what I’m doing right now helping me prepare for that goal?’”

Elon Law alumni: The Hon. Carrie Vickery L'09 (left) and the Hon. Sarah Neely Lanier L'10 of the North Carolina District Court.
The Hon. Teresa Vincent of the North Carolina District Court
Mentoring was key theme throughout the discussion in Room 105 and judges encouraged students to be open to new opportunities that may unexpectedly present themselves. “We never know what something is going to lead to,” McGee said. “We need to be ready to help others. We need to be able to see what they’re capable of, and we need to say ‘go for it.’”

Elon Law’s Women’s Law Association aims to create a system of educational, professional, and personal support and development for all individuals who are interested in women’s issues and the law. With a focus on the legal, social, cultural, educational, and political issues facing women on both a domestic and international level, its mission is carried out through varied activities throughout the school year.

The organization’s next event, the WLA 5K, is scheduled for May 18. Proceeds from the race at Greensboro’s Country Park will benefit the Women’s Resource Center. Check-in begins at 8:30 with the race starting at 9:30 a.m.