Nominee: Thomas Walker, Class of 1990
Thomas Walker is a 1990 graduate from Campbell Law School. He is a partner at Alston & Bird and focuses his practice areas to government investigations, corporate investigations, and white collar criminal defense. He has worked as a federal prosecutor and recently served as the presidentially appointed U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina where he oversaw all federal criminal and civil matters in the eastern district. He has also served as an assistant U.S. attorney and as special counsel to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, where he prosecuted federal court cases involving bank fraud, money laundering, capital litigation, and other federal crimes. He has also served in the former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno’s Campaign Task Force. Most recently, Walker was appointed to Governor Roy Cooper’s new North Carolina Juvenile Sentence Review Board.
Walker has also served as an instructor at the National Advocacy Center focusing his lectures on the art of closing arguments and jury selection. He received the U.S. Customs Service Award and a Criminal Investigative Division Award from the Internal Revenue Service while with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Q: You have served as an assistant U.S. attorney and as special counsel to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, been presidentially appointed as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, and worked in private practice in a range of complex practice areas. Do you have certain skills that you have utilized throughout all your positions?
A: I think knowing what you are good at and what you are not is very important. Try to be yourself and follow what you believe in. Listening to the position of others is vital. Maybe what you think isn’t correct and requires re-examination.
Q: How did Campbell Law School prepare you for your career?
A: I owe any success I have had to the values instilled in me at Campbell Law. To this day I can still hear Prof Jenkin’s voice. And Anderson’s and so many others. Campbell Law demands excellence. It’s not an easy place. Campbell Law punches above its weight and certainly prepared me and so many others.
Q: You have extensive jury trial experience in federal and state courts. What is your favorite part about taking a case to trial? What advice do you have for students interested in trial work?
A: There’s nothing like trying to connect with a jury. Develop your case theory and stick to it. You can never be too prepared. But you can overtry your case. The key is knowing the difference.
Q: Governor Cooper recently named you as one of four individuals serving on the North Carolina Juvenile Sentence Review Board. Tell us more about that.
A: Gov. Cooper is very concerned with issues surrounding juvenile justice. The Commission will examine cases in which the juvenile was tried and convicted as an adult and who have now served extensive active time sentences. It may be that in many of those cases enough is enough. Particularly if there are inappropriate disparities involved.
Q: What does Campbell University’s motto “leading with purpose” mean to you?
A: Try to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Be dedicated to a greater good as you see it.
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