Terri L. Gardner Poyner & Spruill LLP, Raleigh

While in college, I was a lifeguard in my hometown for a few summers. I enjoyed the kids at the pool and being outdoors, but I hated the sunburn and the heat. I was bored and watching the clock all day. It didn’t take me long to realize that any future jobs would have to be mentally challenging. I have to be busy and productive, or I’m not happy. That’s why I love being an attorney.

Vita: Born May 11, 1956, in Mount Airy; bachelor’s and law degrees from Wake Forest University; two daughters. Why she chose this field: I was fortunate to be offered a clerkship with Rufus W. Reynolds, U.S. bankruptcy judge for the Middle District of North Carolina, after I graduated from law school. This was a wonderful opportunity to observe the practice of bankruptcy law and meet many impressive bankruptcy attorneys and judges. I joined a Raleigh firm with a bankruptcy practice in 1983 and have worked primarily on Chapter 11 cases and issues since then. What she’d be if not a lawyer: I would probably be a child psychologist because I am an empathetic person. I also enjoy fashion and decorating, which would be fun fields to work in. Memorable case: Rose’s Stores Inc.’s Chapter 11 filing in 1993. Passions: My children and my best friend, Frank Monaco, a bankruptcy lawyer from Wilmington, Del. Hero: My father, John C.W. Gardner Sr., a lawyer in Mount Airy. Don’t ask her to: Cheer for Carolina. Go Deacs! Recently read: Irving Stone’s The Agony and the Ecstasy after a trip to Italy.