For Carey King ‘24, the concept of becoming an attorney had always been synonymous with criminal defense. Growing up in Eastern North Carolina, he did not realize the vast array of opportunities the legal field offered until a COVID-induced reflection period in 2020. As a 2020 graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a COVID class member, King’s undergraduate career abruptly ended just as a global pandemic began. As the world slowed down, King used his free time to take the LSAT and explore the legal profession.
The decision for King to attend Campbell Law School was partially influenced by familial ties to Campbell University since his mother is an alumna of the pharmacy school. However, Campbell’s strong reputation for bar passage success and for producing excellent attorneys were what ultimately led King to Raleigh.
During his 1L year, King developed a close connection with Jimbo Perry, whom he had known for a number of years. Perry has practiced at Perry, Perry & Perry in Kinston, North Carolina, for 38 years and currently serves as the executive director of the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism. A chance encounter at a restaurant, where King’s parents mentioned that King was attending Campbell Law, marked the beginning of their official mentorship relationship.
Perry invited King to intern with Perry, Perry & Perry during the second half of his 1L summer, providing valuable real-world experience. During the first half of that summer, King worked for Judge Joseph N. Callaway, United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina in Greenville. Throughout these experiences, King’s commitment to returning to Lenoir County after graduation remained unwavering, fueled by a desire to contribute to an area he believed lacked sufficient legal representation.
King spent his 2L summer at Perry, Perry & Perry, solidifying his understanding of the rural legal landscape. In July of that summer, King returned to Campbell for a two-week course on Federal Crimes taught by his former Constitutional Law I professor Judge Zachary C. Bolitho. Judge Bolitho is a United States Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of Florida in Pensacola. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Bolitho had been a full-time professor of law at Campbell Law for nine years. Judge Bolitho, impressed by King’s performances in both Constitutional Law I and Federal Crimes, asked him to interview for a clerkship opportunity in Pensacola.
Without any prior plans to move to the Sunshine State, King embraced the opportunity and interviewed in Pensacola this past September, receiving a job offer that same afternoon. His one-year clerkship comes with the option of extending to a second year. The path to clerking in Pensacola was unexpected, but for King, it represents an invaluable experience to witness what goes on behind the bench. The federal court setting aligns with King’s passion for impactful legal work. Additionally, legal issues arising from the naval base and federally protected coastal areas around Pensacola offer King a chance to develop his writing skills on a wide variety of significant cases.
Judge Bolitho’s chambers also provide the opportunity for King to reunite with other Campbell Law alumni. Hannah Wallace ‘19 and Lauren Cook Scribner ‘22 currently serve as law clerks to Judge Bolitho. Christian Smith-Bishop ‘23 also serves in Pensacola as a law clerk to United States Magistrate Judge Michael J. Frank.
Despite the unexpected but welcome detour, King says he hopes to eventually return to his home in Eastern North Carolina. He adds that his journey, from small town to federal court clerkship, shows the importance of remaining open to unforeseen opportunities.