Student Spotlight: First dual-degree JD/MSW passionately pursues empathy in the law

Photo of Campbell Law JD/MSW student Wallace Driggers '23

Wallace Driggers ’23 (she/they) is passionate about empathy and social justice issues in the legal profession, which is embodied in their choice to pursue a J.D. from Campbell Law School and a Master’s of Social Work from N.C. State University as part of both schools dual-degree programs; their involvement on campus; and their internship at JusticeMatters. 

Driggers is the first student to enroll in the J.D./MSW program, according to Campbell Law Registrar Connie Shipman Newsome. Students in the program are required to complete a number of social work classes their first year at N.C. State before switching to law classes for the second year of the program.

The dual-degree program, Driggers explained, while personally rewarding, has helped to provide students with a unique perspective on social issues within the legal field. A number of practical aspects of social work also overlap with the legal profession, including client-counseling, the mitigation of difficult situations and policy based macro social-work, she said.  

One of their first experiences with this overlap was working as a BASICS facilitator at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill during their first year in the N.C. State MSW program. The program helps students who receive an infraction in college, and had to go through deferred adjudication – demonstrating the intersection between law and social work through the psychoeducational aspects and client counseling in addition to the expungement process, according to Driggers.  

Driggers said she chose to enroll in this program because she always wanted to pursue further education that reached beyond a master’s degree. Initially, she intended to pursue a doctorate or another terminal degree, but the dual-degree program provided the opportunity to pursue practical and timely higher education that would provide them with an educational pathway to advocacy and social justice issues.  

“My motivation for pursuing this dual degree was born out of my passion for combating issues of social and economic justice and my desire to live a life of service to others,” Driggers said. 

They are also involved in a number of programs at Campbell Law that focus on social justice and advocacy. They volunteer with the Campbell Law Innocence Project and the Domestic Violence Advocacy Project, and they are a member of  the Moot Court Team. In the 2021 Fall semester, Driggers and Tia Overway won the Old Kivett Moot Court Competition, an intramural moot court competition that revolved around copyright and trademark issues. They were also awarded the Rick Edmundson Best Advocate Award in the final round of the Old Kivett competition by his family. This award is given to the Best Overall Advocate of the semi-final and final rounds to honor the legacy of Edmundson.  

Driggers also serves a president of Lambda Law. The mission of Lambda Law is to provide a meaningful forum for debate and discussion of LGBTQIA+ issues on the law school campus in order to promote a greater diversity of ideas, which is essential to the process of a legal education.  Through this role, as a result of their previous internship at Smith-Dominguez Law Firm, Driggers planned and implemented a pro bono Name-Change Clinic to serve anyone wanting to change their name — including members of the transgender, non-binary and gender-nonconforming community who no longer identified with the name listed on government documents.  

Driggers has applied these skills through their internship at JusticeMatters Inc., where they feel aligned with the mission of the organization, and the utilization of trauma-informed care. They view JusticeMatters as a pseudo-melting pot of social work and legal skills, where they aim to serve the community, and to develop skills related to immigration law by working on the immigration team, which works to combat human trafficking, provide visa assistance and to develop internal resources regarding immigration. 

“I initially became interested in the mission of JusticeMatters after learning of their holistic approach to addressing issues faced by survivors of human trafficking,” Driggers said. “JusticeMatters also places an emphasis on trauma-informed perspectives and practices – and it is evident in the stewards of their mission.”