Acclaimed attorney Wade Smith ’60 talks about the weight of having a client’s life in his hands

This week’s episode of Catalyze features Wade Smith, a Raleigh-based attorney from the Morehead-Cain class of 1960.

Wade was born in Albemarle, North Carolina, in 1937. His parents were textile workers. In high school, Wade was an All American football player, and he received multiple college football scholarship offers. You'll be happy to hear he chose the Morehead-Cain instead.

At UNC he served as captain of the football team and earned membership in the University’s highest honorary, The Order of the Golden Fleece. Wade then attended UNC School of Law. After clerking for a North Carolina Supreme Court Justice, Wade co-founded the law firm Tharrington Smith, where he still works today. He’s tried dozens of cases in state and federal courts alike—including multiple cases that made national headlines and live on in courtroom lore.

In his conversation with producer and host Caroline Leland, Wade reflects on a career of famous cases, talks about why he defends the guilty, and explains why he believes receiving the then-Morehead Scholarship set his life in motion.

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