As a young boy in Stanly County, North Carolina, Wade Smith did not know what he wanted to be when he grew up; he knew only that he had a deep desire to do something "good and useful."
The grandson of a Baptist preacher, Smith thought this longing might be what those in Christian communities labeled "a calling." He was a star football player in high school and earned the prestigious Morehead Scholarship to UNC-Chapel Hill. He went on to law school at UNC-Chapel Hill, and after a clerkship with the state Supreme Court, he became a prosecutor. Smith soon switched to a private practice focused on criminal defense. His calling, he discovered, was to find the good in everyone—even society's worst criminal offenders. With more than five decades of legal practice under his belt, including several high-profile cases like the Fatal Vision killer and the Duke lacrosse defendants, Wade Smith earned the nickname "dean of the defense bar." Host Frank Stasio talks with Wade Smith about his life, career, politics and perspectives on the justice system.