Frank and Lisa Emory believe in the transformative power of education, and they’re committed to putting their beliefs into action.
In 2015 they committed $120,000 to the UNC School of Law to create The Frank E. and Lisa L. Emory Family Scholarship. This award supports law students who have demonstrated academic achievement and are residents of Eastern North Carolina — Frank is originally from Wilson — or Mecklenburg County, where the Emorys live.
A 1982 graduate of Carolina Law, Frank attended the school on a Morehead Law Fellowship after graduating from Duke University as an Angier B. Duke Scholar — Duke’s most prestigious academic scholarship.
For Frank and Lisa, this gift is a way to share their love of education. “Education was a really big deal in both of our families, something that we also instilled in our children,” Frank says. Their sons, Frank III and Ross Alexander, work as a mechanical engineer and an investment banker, respectively.
“Education is what propelled my parents from their start to a pretty good life,” Frank says.
With the scholarship, the Emorys want to help replicate the opportunities they have had for deserving students.
“Many times [Carolina Law] loses students with great potential — who would put roots down in our great state — because they don’t have the funds to attend,” Frank says. “This scholarship will give talented students the opportunity to go to our great law school.”
Frank credits Carolina Law for the career opportunities he has enjoyed. “Charles Becton, who served on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, was my trial advocacy professor at UNC,” he says. “I was lucky enough that he offered me a job as his law clerk coming out of law school.” Frank then went to work alongside Julius Chambers ’62 at the firm of Ferguson, Stein, and Chambers before heading to Hunton & Williams LLP, a national law firm with over 800 lawyers, where he is a partner and co-head of the litigation, intellectual property, competition and labor groups.
Frank says that he knew from a young age that he wanted to be a trial lawyer. “Being a good courtroom advocate is one of the highest callings one can have,” he says. “A sophisticated society needs a good and reliable way for people to resolve their disputes. When it works well, with good ethical people on both sides, it’s a beautiful thing. You might not always like the results, but the process works.”
Frank and Lisa, who is a real estate broker in Charlotte, give back to the community in a wide range of ways. Frank’s community involvement includes serving eight years on the North Carolina Board of Transportation, chairing the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, and presiding over the Mecklenburg County Bar — which honored him as Pro Bono Attorney of the Year in 2008 — among many other activities.
In fact, he received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest civilian honor, in recognition of his long career as a public servant. Humble about his contributions, he says, “Public service is the tithe you owe when you have been blessed to do well; I owe that to my community and my state to contribute where I can.”
Lisa’s passion for education is evidenced in the time that she gives to her community. She tutors elementary, middle and high school students. She helped raise money to start a Freedom School Partners program, which provides quality summer programming for students in grades K-8, at the church the family attends.
“Lisa believes that it’s important that someone reaches out to kids, particularly those who come from stressed backgrounds, to say, ‘You’re important to me.’”
Lisa was the impetus behind the gift to the law school as well as the Emory Family Scholarship, which Frank and Lisa created for Duke undergraduates.
“Lisa and I decided that what we wanted to do with our lives now is to support financially our undergraduate and professional schools,” Frank says. “And with her time, she helps kids who are coming along in elementary, middle and high school. She feels strongly, and I agree, that providing educational opportunities to all students, and particularly those from at-risk communities, is something where it’s hard to have too many hands helping.”
This article originally appeared in the Spring-Summer 2016 issue of Carolina Law.