Susan Downs, NEXT Leadership Class of 2023

November 03, 2022

Susan Downs is one of the 21 members of the NCAJ NEXT Leadership Program class of 2023. The program, which graduated its first class in 2022, identifies the state’s emerging trial lawyer leaders.

Susan Downs

Lives in: ­­­­Durham

Law degree from: North Carolina Central University School of Law

Works as: Attorney at The Downs Law Office PLLC

Legal Association Involvement: NCAJ Disability Advocacy Section, CLE presenter on the topic “How the Social Security Administration Is Making It Harder for Non-English-Speaking People to Win Disability Benefits”


The most valuable resources I have found so far in my career have been through NCAJ, so I have a lot of respect for the organization. But organizations are ultimately just people – people who make choices and decisions and commit to goals and priorities. Knowing what I know about NCAJ means the people within it must be the kind of people I’d like to know better, and possibly serve with.

Why is the idea of civil justice important to you?

I was raised by an NAACP image award winner and grew up with a very strong awareness of inequality and privilege in our society. I was a teacher and professor for 15 years and saw how education and resources are distributed unevenly throughout this country. Now, as an attorney, I find that I’m just not a happy person if I’m not serving others with true needs.

What’s your vision for the future of NCAJ?

As our society continues to polarize with inequities, I see NCAJ having a greater responsibility in 5-10 years to effectively reach the ethical minds of attorneys and legislators in our state.

Away from work …

I love all types of dance but am especially active in the Triangle’s Latin dance community. I also love cooking, landscaping, and my two very different dogs: Sophie (a Pug) and Hank Williams (a GSP).