The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation might not have brought Amanda and Jim Manning together as a couple, but the man for whom it was named has loomed large in both attorneys’ lives ever since they were college students.
For Amanda, who graduated summa cum laude from Campbell University in 2012, Mr. Sullivan was an inspirational figure as she pursued a career dedicated to creating a more just and ethical society. “I took the honor of receiving the Sullivan Scholarship very seriously,” said Amanda, who earned her bachelor’s degree in English before receiving her J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law. “I remember learning about Algernon Sydney Sullivan and posting information about him and his legacy on the wall over my desk at Campbell, and I continued to remind myself of his legacy as a law student. I did this as a motivation to keep moving forward as I studied, both as an undergraduate and as a law student, because I did not want to let him down and wanted to use my education and talents to help others as a productive, contributing member of society.”
Today, Amanda continues Mr. Sullivan’s legacy. Just as he once served as an assistant district attorney, she is currently a prosecutor in the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office on Long Island, New York, one of the largest D.A. offices in the U.S.
The Sullivan Ideal
Amanda was studying law at UNC when she met Jim Manning, then a law student at the University of Virginia School of Law. Jim had his own Sullivan connection—he had earned the Sullivan Award while an undergraduate double-majoring in Math and Statistics at the University of South Carolina. Like Amanda, whom he married in 2015, he graduated summa cum laude and had a passion for justice and community service.
Also like Amanda, Jim’s connection to Sullivan didn’t end with the award. He is presently a Litigation Associate at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in New York, the law firm founded by the foundation’s namesake in 1879.
“Winning the Sullivan Award was the highlight of my time at South Carolina,” Jim recalls. “Unlike Campbell, we did not have a Sullivan Scholarship, and the Sullivan Award was billed as the award given to the top male and female graduate each year based on academic performance, service and moral character. I remember how nervous I was at Awards Day my senior year, waiting for the announcement. It was such an honor to be selected by the faculty for that most prestigious award, and I have displayed the medallion on my desk ever since.”
Both Jim and Amanda lived up to the Sullivan Foundation ideal as servant leaders in their undergraduate and law school years. As a Student Government senator and Chief Justice of the Constitutional Council at USC, Jim said, “I fought to ensure that the Finance Codes retained a non-discrimination clause, further promoted equality by sponsoring legislation amending the role of a senator to include protecting the rights of all students, and proposed a series of amendments to revitalize the Constitutional Council.”
As president of the Residence Hall Association, he worked directly with hall governments to plan charities benefiting groups including a local food bank, women’s shelters and the American Cancer Society. “At every juncture,” Jim said, his passion for politics, service and leadership afforded him “the chance to support others in pursuing their passions.”
Community service was a major part of Amanda’s student life as well. She also served on the Student Government Association at CU and as chapter president of the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society. Her strong interest in ethics—she completed her Honors thesis on Emmanuel Kant’s deontological (duty-based) ethics—led her to a career in criminal law and her current position in the Nassau County D.A. Office’s Appeals Bureau. Amanda primarily works on appeals taken by defendants who have been adjudicated guilty, arguing cases before appellate courts such as the Appellate Division, Second Department, in New York City.
“I found criminal law particularly interesting,” she said, “because it’s an area where ethical lawyering is of especially great importance and where prosecutors are charged with the special task of working toward public safety while doing so in a fair and just manner. During law school, I supplemented my studies by working as a comparative criminal law research assistant for a professor at the law school and as an intern at a district attorney’s office in North Carolina.” Through these experiences, Amanda came to appreciate “that a prosecutor’s discretion about whether to bring charges and how to pursue them plays a critical role in seeking and serving justice for victims of crime and society as a whole.”
For his part, Jim first learned about Sullivan & Cromwell when he won the Sullivan Award at USC—and he never forgot about it. Upon graduating from law school, he was drawn to Sullivan & Cromwell “in part due to the fact that Mr. Sullivan established the firm,” he said.
Like its founder, Sullivan & Cromwell is committed to giving back to society, Jim noted. “An important aspect of being an attorney is providing pro bono legal services to those who cannot afford access to a lawyer,” Jim said. The firm last year devoted more than 63,000 hours to pro bono service, and Jim himself has argued two appeals cases before the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division—the same court in which Amanda practices—on a pro bono basis. “In my experience,” he said, “Sullivan & Cromwell is committed to public service and honors Mr. Sullivan’s legacy.”