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The Life and Career of Adrienne Meddock: Assistant Dean for the Evening Program and Visiting Assistant Professor at North Carolina Central University School of Law, Durham, NC

published November 13, 2006

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<<Meddock toured with an 80s punk band, "The Beef People," and she was a vocalist for "Bloom" from 1990 to 1992. But she knew right away that playing music and booking bands wouldn't pay the bills. "Booking was self-supporting, but the band was always another hungry mouth," she said.

As she began considering different professions, law originally wasn't of much interest to her, although she always knew she would make a successful lawyer. "I had felt that the law was sort of an obvious field for me, since my writing and speaking skills favored that career, but I definitely ran from it," Meddock said.

Meddock decided to pursue a career that would make use of her creative ambitions, and she enrolled in an architecture graduate program. However, after one semester of school, she realized the field of architecture was not a match for her. She found that her desire to create far surpassed her talent. She also wasn't as serious and passionate about the program as most of her peers were.

"Students should think about teaching at all levels as a good preparation for becoming professors," said Meddock, who tutored students while she attended law school.

"While there will always be a need for the theoretician who churns out thoughtful publications, teachers who teach members of the community, fellow attorneys, undergraduates, and even community college students are invaluable. Teach where you can and who you can to see if you have the gift of being able to help students learn," she said.

"I was the youngest and probably the most dilettantish of the group. By the end of the semester, I vowed I wouldn't return to school until I felt about a subject the way my fellow architecture program students felt about that subject. Several folks had given up on careers and made real sacrifices to join that program," she said.

Meddock eventually started to take an interest in the law, as she continued booking bands and playing music. "I knew that when trademark infringement and copyright issues that came up for the band became more intriguing than learning new songs, it was time to stop fighting it and accept my calling," she said.

Meddock earned her J.D. degree at NCCU and accepted a full-time position at the school just days after she passed the bar exam in 1991. "I had originally thought I'd work here for a few years while building my entertainment law practice, but I fell in love with working with students and gradually stopped practicing," she said.

Meddock is also a visiting assistant professor at the school, teaching global intellectual property, intellectual property (IP), relational injuries, legal writing, and entertainment law to students enrolled in the Evening Program. "I teach in the evening and late afternoons, in what we call 'the swing hour,' a time when students from the full- and part-time programs take electives," she said.

The school's Evening Program is designed for people who want to earn law degrees while working full-time. Evening students come from many professional fields, including academia, medicine, scientific research, law enforcement, and government.

The Evening Program presents unique challenges to professors. "One of the most frustrating things about working with the Evening Program is the outside influences on the students and program over which none of us has much control," she said. Many of Meddock's students have had to drop out of the program because of major life changes. "It is always a challenge to accept that there are some things beyond your control," she said.

Many of the techniques that practicing lawyers use are applicable to the teaching profession, Meddock said. Lawyers need to be able to see problems from the client's point of view, in the same way that professors need to be able to see problems from the student's point of view. Both lawyers and professors need to be able to explain complex information clearly and concisely in order to effectively engage their audiences.

Meddock's favorite course to teach is relational injuries because "the torts tend to fill the gaps between traditional first-year areas of law and provide remedies for harms to a[n] […] unusual range of interests," she said. "You have to love a class whose subject matter spans the very different topics of defamation, alienation of affections, and unfair competition," she added.

Meddock said it is rewarding to see her students develop into critical thinkers. "Plus, working with the non-traditional population in the Evening Program, you see folks make drastic changes in their lives," she added. For instance, one of Meddock's students started off as a paralegal in a small law firm. Now she is a partner at one of the largest firms in North Carolina. "It is rewarding to see a student grasp concepts in class and then put those ideas into practice as a lawyer," Meddock said.

Meddock is also the advisor for the Trademark Moot Court, Intellectual Property Law Society, and Sports and Entertainment Law Society at NCCU.

Meddock is a member of the North Carolina State Bar and the South Carolina State Bar. She is on the board of directors of the Triangle Intellectual Property Law Association. She is also a former Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts board member and the former co-chair of the North Carolina Bar Association's Art and the Law Committee.