Nominee: Tatiana Terry, Class of 2019
Tatiana Terry is a 2019 graduate of Campbell University School of Law. During her time at Campbell Law, Terry was a member of the Trial Team, Client Counseling Team, an Honor Court Justice, president of the Campbell Law Innocence Project and vice president of the Campbell Law Black Law Students Association (BLSA). She was named the inaugural Eva Clayton Fellow for volunteering innumerable hours assisting with voter registration efforts and helping at polling locations across North Carolina. At graduation, Terry received the faculty’s Robert. A. Jenkins Award for her outstanding accomplishments.
Terry is one of the most decorated law school advocates in Campbell Law history. She earned the individual award for best direct examination at the National Civil Trial Competition, best overall advocate at NBLSA Regional Mock Trial Championship and best cross examination at NBLSA Southern Rock Mock Trial Competition. Terry was a semi-finalist at the ABA National Client Counseling Competition and the South Texas Mock Trial Challenge. Terry was named champion of the International Client Consultation Competition, ABA National Client Counseling Competition, NBLSA National Mock Trial Competition, ABA Client Counseling Regional Competition and NBLSA Regional Mock Trial Competition. To complete her list of championships, Terry was the 2019 Top Gun Mock Trial Competition Champion, making her the first African-American and third woman to win the prestigious competition.
Terry has dedicated her life to advocacy and has recently become an Assistant District Attorney in Wake County. She also serves on the Campbell Law Board of Visitors and as an adjunct mock trial coach at Campbell Law.
Q: What is your favorite thing about your job?
A: My favorite things about my job are 1) helping administer justice in the fairest form possible and 2) trying cases. Becoming an Assistant District Attorney in Wake County has always been a dream of mine. I believe in justice and I believe in mercy. I also believe those things are not always mutually exclusive. My job affords me the chance to make decisions and take actions that will have a lasting impact on many lives. I understand that responsibility and treat it with the respect and professionalism that it requires. I love that about this job. It is so fulfilling to know that I am doing work that will make a difference. You truly cannot put a price on that.
Q: How did Campbell Law School prepare you for your career?
A: Campbell Law’s dedication to training lawyers is a testament to my own success and that of so many other student advocates over the years. I’m grateful to everyone who has been part of my journey as a student, mock trial team member and client counseling team member. I’ve been taught and trained by the very best and have been blessed to be able to translate that training into my career. I learned to work hard, and then work a little bit harder; to never cut corners; and most importantly, to be the most prepared lawyer in the courtroom. Campbell Law instilled in me a hard work ethic and true respect for the privilege one has to be able to call themselves an “attorney-at-law.”
Q: You currently serve on the Campbell Law Board of Visitors and volunteer as a coach for one of Campbell Law’s mock trial teams. What is the best part about those roles and how do you balance those volunteer opportunities with your full-time job?
A: The best part about these roles is my ability to “pay it forward,” so to speak. Campbell Law has given so very much to me and these volunteer opportunities allow me to give back to the future students of Campbell Law. When the Dean invited me to serve on the Campbell Law Board of Visitors, I was quite surprised, to say the least. I truly appreciate the Dean believing in me to be worthy to assist in this way. Simply put, I love Campbell Law. I love meeting Campbell Law alumni and bonding over our shared experiences. I always know that when I meet a Campbell Law alum they will be professional, prepared and formidable opponents. I want to make sure that this rings true for all of our future students by doing my part to make that happen as well.
Similarly, when Dean Tilly invited me to serve as a mock trial coach, I was initially hesitant. I cared about the mock trial program so much and didn’t know how my skills as an advocate would translate to serving as a coach. However, being a mock trial coach has far exceeded my wildest dreams and expectations. Each of the students I have had the privilege and honor to coach is truly special in their own way. Having the chance to watch them develop their skillset and mature into young lawyers makes me so very proud. In both of these roles, I get the chance to impact a young person’s life to hopefully help them achieve their goals and that is something I truly cherish. As Kobe Bryant once said, “the most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.”
I balance these opportunities and responsibilities with my full-time job because I have such a supportive family (especially my husband) and I live by the personal motto that “dedication sees dreams come true.” No matter what is asked of me, I always plan to make sure I get the job done. It is as simple as that.
Q: Share a memory or experience that has had a lasting impact on your career.
A: When I won Top Gun, that was such an amazing feeling. When Dean Dan Tilly was later notified that I was the first African-American to have won, I felt a heightened sense of responsibility that I hadn’t felt before. I had multiple minority law students and undergraduate students reaching out to me and for the first time in my life, I felt like I had to be an example for so many other people. The responsibility to make sure I represented myself and others in a professional fashion. When Dean Leonard and Dean Tilly selected me to represent Campbell Law at Top Gun 2019, I knew they chose me because they believed that I would go out there and do my very best. Never in a million years did any of us think we’d be making history in the process. That experience impacted my career because I understand that as an African-American District Attorney, I have a similar heightened sense of responsibility and I take that responsibility very seriously. Candidly, I understand there are many people in the community who lack faith in our justice system and simply have never seen an Assistant District Attorney who even looks like them. I understand that in my position I get the privilege to hopefully inspire someone to not only develop faith in our justice system, but to also one day see themselves in this position if they so choose.
Q: What does Campbell University’s motto “leading with purpose” mean to you?
A: “Leading with a purpose” has a two-part meaning for me. To be a great leader, one must first learn to be a great follower. I believe God has a purpose for each of us and if we follow Him, he will lead us to that purpose He has for us. One has to figure out what their true purpose is and I firmly believe God’s purpose for each of us is predestined. After one finds their purpose, they lead with that purpose by 1) leading by example and 2) always paying it forward.
Want to nominate a Campbell Law Alumna/Alumnus to be featured in a 45th anniversary spotlight?
If you would like to nominate a fellow alumnus/na who is living the university’s motto “leading with purpose,” please contact Lisa Snedeker at email@example.com for more information.