Go East, Uptown Girl – Charlotte School of Law Student Leaving Bright Lights of City for Legal Career in Rural South

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Rachel Stroup, a 23-year-old third-year student at Charlotte School of Law, will leave Uptown Charlotte to practice law in rural Eastern North Carolina following graduation.

It’s a story with a plotline that reads a little too close to a Hollywood script: bright young urbanite, fresh out of graduate school with an advanced degree tucked under her arm and the world in her hand, ditches a metropolitan lifestyle for country living.

But, for Rachel Stroup, a 23-year-old third-year student at Charlotte School of Law, that’s exactly what’s happening. Stroup will earn her Juris Doctor from CharlotteLaw in May and, following a month of preparation leading up to the North Carolina Bar Exam, she’ll leave her apartment in Uptown Charlotte and head east to Duplin County, the largest hog-producing county in the United States. And she can’t wait.

Truism isn’t lost on Stroup. Her uncle, Michael Godley, is a Mooresville, N.C. lawyer, and summer jobs in his firm – drafting pleadings, pouring over equitable distribution spreadsheets and auditing mediation sessions – provided all the zeal Stroup needed to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science from North Carolina State University in just three years. Attending law school in her hometown, close to family but still ripe with opportunities to engage lawyers in a city with myriad opportunities like Charlotte, was the next logical step.

“It’s just what I’ve always wanted to do,” Stroup said. “I know it’s a little clichéd, I get that. But it’s true.”

Stroup credits the student-focused curriculum afforded to her at CharlotteLaw, including experiential opportunities that allowed her to learn while working with underserved members of the community, with guiding her development as a lawyer.

So how did a rural lifestyle in southeastern North Carolina lure Stroup away from the second-largest financial center in the United States?

“I had to have a good balance,” Stroup said. “I’ll only be 45 minutes from Wilmington and an hour from Raleigh, so it’s not like I’m going to be stranded in the middle of nowhere. But it is going to be a transition. I am definitely a city girl, so I do recognize that this is going to be a change.”

Stroup has already secured employment with McNamara Law Firm in Jacksonville, N.C., where she’ll be working in family law – an extension of the work she began there the summer following her second year of studies at Charlotte School of Law. And she already has a side business lined up as well. Her fiancé’s family owns Lanier Farms, a mix of hog and cattle farms across nearly 3,500 acres around Beulaville, N.C., and she’ll be helping out with the family business working in agricultural law.

“They don’t necessarily need an attorney every day on the farm, but with that much land and several thousand animals, there are a number of issues that can come up,” Stroup said. “There are closings with real estate transactions, huge tax implications for a lot of the dealings they make, complex environmental regulations that we need to be in compliance with, and the regular formation of LLCs the family needs just to operate a growing business. I’m marrying into the family, so helping them out with these things is the least I can do.”

The opportunity to mix a stable family law practice with a variety of legal transactions for the family farm provides another level the balance that Stroup seeks in her life, a balance that she has achieved through hard work and guidance from her scholastic community.

“People definitively shouldn’t be scared-off from going to law school in a metropolis like Charlotte if they’ve come from a small town,” Stroup said. “There is a great support system there and the mentors you have there go a long way. I think one of the factors that helps drive people through CharlotteLaw is there are so many people cheering you along the entire way.”

About Charlotte School of Law
Charlotte School of Law, fully accredited by the American Bar Association, offers a student-centered orientation that focuses on the hands-on learning needed to equip graduates with leadership, management and interpersonal skills needed for career success. As the only law school in North Carolina’s most populous city, Charlotte School of Law offers full-time and part-time day programs as well as an evening part-time program for working professionals. On the Web at http://www.charlottelaw.edu.

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Michael Henry
Charlotte School of Law
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