Campbell University’s law school announced an $8 million donation Monday – its largest ever – from prominent Raleigh lawyer Gene Boyce.
The gift of cash and property will be used to create the G. Eugene Boyce Center of Advocacy. It will boost efforts to train students in trial advocacy at the school, which has three courtrooms at its downtown Raleigh location. Campbell’s advocacy program has gained accolades, and its students have won awards at national mock trial competitions.
Boyce, who is senior counsel at the firm Nexsen Pruet, is a well-known attorney whose work focuses on class-action cases, commercial litigation and constitutional law. He has represented clients in more than 140 appellate cases in state and federal court and has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. He was an assistant chief counsel to the Watergate Committee, working alongside former U.S. Sen. Sam Ervin of North Carolina. He is best known as the lead investigator whose interviews uncovered President Nixon’s secret taping system in the White House.
Campbell’s law dean, Rich Leonard, said the school aims to be among the best in the United States in training students for the courtroom. A recent survey of the school’s graduates showed that 91 percent said advocacy was the strongest component of their legal training. “Our success in this area is documented by the fact that, although we are still a fairly young law school, already 25 percent of the elected district attorneys in North Carolina, 25 percent of the sitting district judges and 20 percent of the Court of Appeals are Campbell lawyers,” he said, “and our numbers grow daily.”
The expanded advocacy program comes after the N.C. Business Court, which had been headquartered at the school, relocated to the Wake County Courthouse. That opened up a large courtroom for students and faculty to use, in addition to two others. The Boyce gift will allow the school to upgrade technology in the courtrooms for the presentation of evidence to include display terminals, videoconferencing and interactive educational software.
“When a student leaves here, he or she can walk up to the podium in any tribunal in the world and perform adeptly,” Leonard said.
The facilities will also be used to host competitions and, on occasion, provide a venue for state and federal trials. Area lawyers will be able to use the courtrooms to prepare for oral arguments, Leonard said.
Boyce, a graduate of Wake Forest University and its law school, will be a practitioner in residence at Campbell, where his new office just outside the courtroom is already decorated with framed memorabilia and news clips of his work on the Watergate investigation.
In remarks to a room full of lawyers, judges, lawmakers and guests, Boyce said the donation wouldn’t have happened without such totally unplanned opportunities that arose in his career.
He said he had taught classes occasionally at the school since its 2009 move to Raleigh, and has built a close relationship with the people at Campbell. “I thought it would be great for the city of Raleigh and Wake County to have a law school here,” he said, “and I jumped in early on.”