Campbell Law 45th Anniversary Spotlight: Kevin Marcilliat ’12
Q: How did Campbell Law prepare you for your career?
A. My first job out of law school was in a tiny mountain town in Western North Carolina, where I was asked to handle all litigation matters, both criminal and civil, for a solo practitioner who had a busy transactional practice. My first 18 months as a lawyer were spent engaging in virtually every type of law practice one can imagine: I tried criminal cases in District Court, handled child custody matters, closed real estate transaction, drafted wills and even litigated a small civil dispute involving a local farm. I would never have had the confidence to engage in such a diverse general practice as a brand new lawyer without the strong foundation that was set for me by Campbell Law. I benefitted greatly from my time at Campbell, which gave me solid footing in every area of the law and a network of classmates that I could lean on when I needed advice. Even now, as a partner at a statewide criminal defense firm with nine years of experience and hundreds of serious felony cases under my belt, I still frequently seek out advice from my former Campbell classmates (who I seem to constantly run into in courtrooms across the state).
Q: Share a memory or experience that has had a lasting impact on your career.
A. I started at Campbell Law in Fall 2009 (the first 1L class after the move to Raleigh, which was a truly exciting time to attend CU) with a plan to become a prosecutor. I had interned with a state court judge in undergrad, and during that experience fell in love with the courtroom and the idea of trying big cases to a jury. However, early in the Spring Semester of 1L year, the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission convened its three-judge panel across the hall from where I was attending class to hear the case of Greg Taylor. I watched the hearing over the course of several days as defense attorneys Chris Mumma, Joe Cheshire and Mike Klinkosum proved Greg’s factual innocence — directly attacking and discrediting the junk science that had been used to wrongfully convict him of murder. From that point forward, I knew that I wanted to be on the defense side, fiercely advocating for the human being standing next to me whose hopes and dreams depended on the outcome of the case.
Q: What is your favorite part about taking a case to trial?
A. Whether it’s a bench trial or jury trial, I absolutely love the opportunity to stand up and make an argument on behalf of my client. Like most defense attorneys, by far my favorite aspect of trial is closing arguments. This is the time when I finally get to make my impassioned plea to the judge or jury and highlight all the points I have been trying to draw out through the course of testimony, along with reminding them of my client’s humanity.
Q: How did Campbell Law prepare you for your career as a trial lawyer?
A. Campbell Law did an incredible job preparing me for my career as a trial lawyer, both through the practical trial advocacy course work and also through a series of incredible internships where I gained the kind of hands-on experience with trying criminal cases that gave me confidence as a young attorney. Most of all, my participation on the moot court team was an incredible experience since, as I often tell law students now, there is no more intimidating advocacy setting in real practice than the ones my moot court teams experienced arguing in competitions around the country during law school.
Q. What does Campbell University’s motto “leading with purpose” mean to you?
A. Effective leadership is principled leadership. I have always found, whether in law practice or just life in general, those we are tasked to lead tend to respond so much better when they know and respect the value system of the individual and the organization that they serve. The value system that Campbell promotes is clear from the moment you walk in the door off Hillsborough Street and note the words of Micah 6:8 on the wall. That specific verse still hangs on the wall in my own office and has guided my practice in its command to “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly.”
Want to nominate a Campbell Law Alumna/Alumnus to be featured in a 45th anniversary spotlight?
If you would like to nominate a fellow alumni who is living the university’s motto “leading with purpose,” please contact Lisa Snedeker at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. The deadline for nominations is Oct. 25, 2021. All nominees and their nominators are invited to a complimentary 45th Anniversary celebratory dinner at Cafe Luna on Nov. 9, 2021.