Campbell Law Spotlight: Christian Smith-Bishop ’23

Photo of Christian Smit-Bishop '23 with his family at graduation

Christian Smith-Bishop graduated from Campbell Law School magna cum laude in 2023. While in law school, Smith-Bishop worked as a legal extern for the Durham City Attorney’s Office and the Consumer Protection Division of the North Carolina Department of Justice. During the summer of his second year, he worked as a summer associate at the law firms Cranfill Sumner LLP and Ogletree Deakins. Smith-Bishop helped found Campbell Law School’s student group, the Society of Law and Technology, and he served as the Editor in Chief of Volume 45 of the Campbell Law Review. After sitting for the bar exam, Smith-Bishop will begin a federal clerkship in the Northern District of Florida.  

 Q: During your time as a summer associate at Cranfill Sumner, what responsibilities did you have? 

A: Like many summer associates, I worked on research projects and drafted memos and portions of briefs in various areas of law. I also attended a trial and a deposition. One memorable project was writing a first draft of an entire amicus brief in support of a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States. The legal issue was a fascinating point of First Amendment law. In addition to the guidance of my fantastic mentor at the firm, I was fortunate enough to have access to a leading scholar and noted litigator in the field to bounce off ideas. Working on that was excellent experience.

 Q: What particular project did you enjoy most? 

A: Aside from the amicus brief, another project that stands out to me was a matter regarding a cryptocurrency firm. Because crypto is heavily regulated and falls within the jurisdiction of several federal and state agencies, this project was heavy in administrative law. Agency rules are there for a reason, but even sophisticated clients can be overwhelmed with the thicket of regulations and overlapping compliance regimes. The partner in charge kept some guardrails on the project to keep it manageable, otherwise I would have happily worked on it the whole time! One of the reasons I went to law school was to be able to help clients understand what the law requires so they can operationalize their business model within it and reach their goals, so this project was a great fit. Plus, crypto is an interest of mine.

Q: What experience at Cranfill Sumner was particularly meaningful to you and why? 

A: The projects I already discussed were certainly meaningful, but probably the most impactful experience was not a single project, but an overall takeaway that people matter. In the practice of law, there will always be a lot of pressure on your time. This can quickly lead to tunnel vision. One thing that I thought Cranfill did particularly well was the implementation of a culture where everybody took the time to check in with each other personally and to speak and laugh with each other. People were treated with value and with respect. That was a big part of my experience. I count myself fortunate to have had similar experiences everywhere I have had the opportunity to extern or work during law school, but at Cranfill it was clearly a priority.

Q: How did you manage balancing law school and family obligations?

A: Necessity is the mother of invention, and my time management evolved during law school as my responsibilities increased. I learned early on that how I invested my time matters. My general approach was to work backwards from my non-negotiables. Aside from school, my personal non-negotiables included being present for my wife and daughter. Recently, a friend shared a memorable analogy with me that encapsulates something like what I tried to do: she said that when she needs to be present with her family, she conjures a mental image of her work-self as a suit that she removes and puts into a garment bag (which is the bag you hang a suit in) that she then carefully zips up and puts away. And when it is time to work again, the suit comes out. This is what I tried to do. As to grades, studying with strategy and prioritizing self-care are both important. I haven’t found a magic formula yet; when I do, I’ll bottle it and sell it. You just have to take the time to think about what you need to do. Then, prioritize and get it done.



Ashley Van Slyck '24

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