Campbell Law Spotlight: Liza McGowan ’23

Photo of Liza McGowan '23

After spending a high school semester at the School for Ethics and Global Leadership in Washington, D.C., Liza McGowan ‘23 discovered her passion for law and set her sights on following her family tradition and becoming an attorney.

Beginning her undergraduate studies at George Washington University, McGowan initially thought her future legal career would involve international policy and government. Her freshman year included working for Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.)and at the Rwandan Embassy Education Center. McGowan also studied abroad in St. Andrews, Scotland, where she took courses in U.N. peacekeeping. She then transferred to North Carolina State University to complete her degree, where her exposure to politics continued with an internship at the North Carolina General Assembly under Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland County).

 At Campbell Law School, McGowan initially pivoted her path to a career in criminal law. Her introduction to the courtroom came through the 1L Kilpatrick Townsend Mock Trial Competition, where she embraced the learning curve alongside her teammates and gained confidence in her ability to effectively advocate in the courtroom setting. The following summer, she gained firsthand experience in criminal defense in Key West, Florida, dealing with a spectrum of cases from murder trials to fishing violations.

Further honing her skills, McGowan spent her 2L fall semester working in the chambers of Judge Jefferson Griffin at the North Carolina Court of Appeals, where she gained confidence in her legal writing. During the same semester, she joined Campbell Law’s mock trial team. McGowan and her teammates had notable success as semifinalists in the Tournament of Champions and winning the South Texas Mock Trial Challenge Champion.

In the summer following her 2L year, McGowan was a Legal Fellow with the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law, where she delved into constitutional claims. Though she did not know it at the time, this position would lay the groundwork for her future path.

Transitioning into her final year of law school, McGowan’s interests shifted towards healthcare law after taking a health care law course in the fall. At the same time McGowan saw a Symplicity listing for a clerk position at Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani LLP. To prepare for her interview, McGowan met with the Career Center and ultimately landed the job. Through her time as a clerk, McGowan worked primarily on health care issues where she was able to work directly with all of the Raleigh partners. McGowan was offered a full-time position after she completed the bar exam in July. While McGowan originally intended to take a few weeks off after the bar exam, she returned to work one week later, and began a fast transition to take over cases as a clerk that she would take on full-time after successful bar results arrived.

Now an attorney at Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani LLP, McGowan focuses on medical malpractice defense and 1983 claims, drawing on her previous experience with constitutional law. Witnessing the growth of the Raleigh office, which has expanded from six to 15 attorneys during her time there, McGowan values the supportive environment and opportunity to learn from successful female mentors.

Reflecting on her time at Campbell Law, attributes her preparedness for practice to her work with the Restorative Justice Clinic and the mock trial team. McGowan said the clinic provided invaluable insight into the criminal justice system, while the mock trial team bolstered her confidence and public speaking skills, overcoming her initial shyness.

 

Contributors

Emily Sullivan '24

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