GRADY L. SHIELDS, Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton LLP, RaleighFreshman year at Duke was something of a shock. By the time I’d left, though, I’d acquired the discipline and work ethic to master graduate-level courses and research and write an honors thesis. These developed traits served me well through law school and into practice. I was fortunate enough to have professors who challenged me to look beyond my assumptions and think more critically — a great primer for first-year law school and for practice.
Vita: Born Oct. 6, 1960, in Greensboro; bachelor’s from Duke University and law degree from UNC Chapel Hill; wife, two children and two stepchildren.
Why he chose to specialize in this field: Environmental law enables me to use my science background and gives me a wide-ranging practice. I rarely do the same thing from day to day.
Memorable case: The first case that I worked on, Nantahala Power & Light v. Thornburg, went to the U.S. Supreme Court. I also argued Wilson v. McLeod Oil Company, one of the early significant cases under the N.C. Oil Pollution and Hazardous Substances Control Act, to the N.C. Supreme Court.
Passions: Travel and nature and wildlife photography.
Favorite place: Anywhere in the Himalayas or Hawaii, where my wife and I were recently married.
Hero: My mother. She raised two children on her own and was one of the first woman executives in the tobacco industry.
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