By Michele Lynn
Elizabeth J. “Liz” Bower ’01 says UNC School of Law provided her the knowledge and opportunities that helped her achieve success as a partner in the litigation department of the Washington, D.C., law firm of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP.
“Carolina Law did a great job—from orientation through graduation—of embracing us as students and as professionals endeavoring to learn the law and instilling in us from the outset the importance of ethics and integrity,” Bower says. Bower says law school opened doors and encouraged her to stretch herself.
“The prestige of the school, both in terms of academic rigor and its reputation for developing well-rounded good-citizen lawyers, gave me the opportunity to have an audience with a number of prestigious law firms, companies and government agencies, and helped shape who I am today,” she says.
Bower is passionate about helping make Carolina Law’s life-changing experiences available to all students, particularly those for whom financial need is a concern.
“It’s important that those of us who have been successful because of our Carolina degrees assist others who are equally eager and hungry for a similar experience,” she says. “I believe at my core that everyone should have access to a good education—everyone. It shouldn’t matter what your socioeconomic background is. If you have proven yourself to have the intellectual capacity and curiosity, you should have the opportunity to attend a school like Carolina Law.”
To facilitate this, Liz and her husband Chris recently established the UNC School of Law Need-Based Scholarship endowment and committed $100,000 to it.
“I believe at my core that everyone should have access to a good education—everyone.”
“We wanted to make a real commitment to the school and to the future JDs coming out of Carolina Law,” Bower says. “While the school has a good amount of true merit-based scholarships, they don’t necessarily reach everyone who has the drive and ambition and real talent to be successful. We wanted to set up a scholarship fund for those who have demonstrated academic success but who also have a demonstrated financial need.”
Liz and Chris hope that others who are equally passionate about access to education and Carolina Law’s public mission will contribute to the fund.
Bower says that she had to take out student loans for college and law school and is grateful that she now has the ability to help others in financial need.
“It’s important to give back, share your success with the school and pave the way for other individuals to have a similar experience and be able to contribute to society in a meaningful way,” she says.
The endowment is just the latest demonstration of Bower’s appreciation for and commitment to Carolina Law. She has been a long-time leadership-level annual supporter to the Dean’s Discretionary Fund and the annual law scholarship fund. In addition, she is an active member of the Advancement Committee and an exceptional advocate on behalf of the law school and the need for increased private support.
“I think that the leadership piece is just as important as the financial support,” Bower says. “There is nothing more valuable to a lawyer than time! Giving my time to a school and a cause that are important to me gives me a voice and an audience to explain what the school means to me. By doing so, I hope it encourages others to do the same.”
This article was originally published in the Spring-Summer 2015 issue of Carolina Law and is reprinted with permission.