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Quiet research and writing time is merely a dream

Q&A with Raleigh lawyer Elizabeth Spainhour

By DIANA SMITH, Staff Writer

[email protected]


Elizabeth Spainhour is an associate with Brooks Pierce in Raleigh, where she represents media and communications companies in regulatory and business matters.

The University of North Carolina School of Law graduate counsels broadcast clients about the FCC’s Equal Employment Opportunities rules, children’s programming and political advertising. Spainhour also represents broadcasters, newspapers and website publishers in libel and subpoena defense, privacy, public records access and courtroom access matters. She has a special interest in Internet and related communications.

Spainhour is a member of the N.C. Bar Association, Wake County Bar Association, Federal Communications Bar Association and American Bar Association. She is also a member of the section council for the NCBA’s Constitutional Rights and Responsibilities Section.  


NCLW: If you weren’t practicing law, what else would you want to do?

Spainhour: Book reviewer.


NCLW: What is the biggest problem facing the legal profession today?

Spainhour: One problem facing law firms is the tension between traditional law firm models and contemporary


NCLW: How has being an attorney affected your view of the world?

Spainhour: A legal education is a true privilege and one that I wish everyone could have. As attorneys, we are empowered with an understanding of the way our democracy works, our system of state and federal laws and our legal rights and obligations. I see now how important it is to understand these things. A legal education isn’t the only way to make it happen, but it helped me.


NCLW: Who was your mentor and what important lessons did they teach you?

Spainhour: My main mentor in the firm is Mark Prak. He loves practicing law, and you can tell. His enthusiasm is contagious.


NCLW: Is the profession everything you thought it would be when you graduated from law school?

Spainhour: In law school, I envisioned that practicing law would involve extended quiet periods of legal research and writing on a particular topic. My experience as a lawyer is that these extended quiet periods working on one matter are rare to nonexistent. I think one of the most important skills a lawyer can have is the ability to multi-task.


NCLW: If you took the bar exam today, would you pass?

Spainhour: I would like to think so, but I would want to brush up on secured transactions first!

NCLW: How effective have social media been for your practice?

Spainhour: I am a contributor to a blog ( The blog provides a convenient distribution mechanism for pieces that my fellow contributors and I have written about recent legal developments. 

NCLW: Do you feel CLEs are a waste of time? Why or why not?

Spainhour: No, I have been to some very interesting ones. CLEs offer an opportunity to learn about new developments and to meet other attorneys who have similar subject-matter interests.


NCLW: What is the most unusual thing on your desk or in your office?

Spainhour: I have a William Shakespeare action figure on my desk


NCLW: How has the economy affected your practice?

Spainhour: I believe the economy has generally made companies more deliberate about what legal matters they want to pursue with the assistance of counsel.


Editor’s note: If you would like to participate in a Q&A interview, contact Diana Smith at [email protected]

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