For Clara Cottrell (JD '07), Wake Forest Law became synonymous with family with the small classes that marked her education. Today she expresses those familial feelings by making herself available to current law students and most recently by making a legacy gift that will open doors of opportunity to future generations. The University is simply part of her family.
"Wake Forest has given my family and me so much—the ability to practice law and a supportive community," she explained. "It's not just the education, but it's about the connections, the good feelings, and the community we are able to build around the common denominator of Wake Forest."
Through an estate gift, Cottrell has made sure that her appreciation for the Law School will be shown. "I wanted to make sure that, even if it was a small amount, Wake Forest understood how much it meant to my family and me," she said.
Cottrell, counsel with BASF in Morrisville, North Carolina, focuses on intellectual property and business. As part of the Wake Forest family, she makes herself available to students who have questions in her fields of expertise. She also mentors Wake Forest Law students and has contributed as a member of the Law School Board of Visitors and the Young Alumni Board.
She is excited about where the Law School is headed in its delivery of quality law education, especially through the implementation of law clinics. The clinics enhance the overall law experience by providing a way for students to combine the theory of law with the actual practice of it. "I think the clinics are instrumental for leading the law students into the next generation of practicing law," Cottrell noted.
"What the Law School provides doesn't come cheap," she continued. She has come to understand that giving back is not simply about keeping the Law School running—it helps keep the school in the top ranks. It takes the support of many to retain the school's much-loved professors and operate the clinics that offer real-world experience.
As one of the youngest members of the Samuel Wait Legacy Society, Cottrell encourages others to think about their legacy at Wake Forest. "When you sit down and write your will, it's not hard to give a small percentage to Wake Forest to make sure that they can continue doing the work that allowed you to do your work."
For Cottrell, leaving a gift to the Law School just means remembering one of her family. "If you're talking about a legacy gift, and you think about your brothers and sisters, your nieces and nephews, Wake Forest is part of your family too. A nice way to remember that is to include Wake Forest in your will and in your legacy."