From Welcome To Windhoek: A Judge’s Journey

About The Book

This is the remarkable story of how a boy from rural Welcome, North Carolina grew up to become an innovative judge, global citizen, and go-to guy for court-building in emerging African nations.

Along the way, he organizes the first-ever judicial conference in Tanzania, jogs with children in Lusaka, dances with a python, and has adventures ranging from the harrowing to the hilarious.

In the end, he discovers the distance between Welcome and Windhoek is not as great as he imagined, and that both places now occupy adjoining spaces in his heart.

About The Author

A photograph of Dean Leonard

Deon Leonard

Rich Leonard’s work on the bench and at Campbell Law was publicly recognized when North Carolina Lawyers Weekly named him the 2014 Lawyer of the Year. Most recently he was recognized among the top CEOs by the Triangle Business Journal in 2021 and he was named Bankruptcy Law Lawyer of the Year by Global 100 magazine. He also received the 2018 McKnight Renaissance Lawyer Award from the North Carolina Bar Association and the same year, he was elected to serve as chair-elect of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s General Alumni Association. He then served as chair from May 2019 to May 2020.

Book Reviews

Rich Leonard tells a story, his story, of a life’s journey from Sunday family dinners on the farm in Davie County to groundbreaking international legal cooperative endeavors in Africa in a laid back and comfortable style. A life so full it is hard to imagine that one person could have experienced such varied and significant life events. But having been his colleague on the federal bankruptcy bench, I know firsthand that Rich is one of the very few who could and did! This memoir highlights a life devoted to public service, and in particular, to ensuring the efficient and fair administration of justice in this country and around the world.

– Stephani Humrickhouse, Judge (Retired), NC Eastern District Bankruptcy Court

One of the pleasures of spending time with Rich – and this book will reveal many – is that he’s a great storyteller. He’s also a first-class teacher. Reading From Welcome to Windhoek is like spending an evening in front of the fire with a fine drink hearing about the latest travels of a warm-hearted, thoroughly engaging friend – and realizing later how much you’ve learned along the way. Though I knew some of the stories he tells – stories about extraordinary people, about climbing mountains and shooting rapids, about facing down danger and managing adversity – I was charmed anew and awed by the intensity with which he embraces life, people, and his greatest cause, the well-being of one of democracy’s most important institutions, the courts. Characteristically, he’s generous to the many people he’s worked with, open about his joys and disappointments, and self-effacing about his own enormous contributions to justice in the U.S. and Africa. I highly recommend spending a little time in his company through this funny, sweet, sometimes poignant book.

– Donna Stienstra, Senior Researcher, Federal Judicial Center

I absolutely loved the book – I binged it in one sitting. Fantastic storytelling that had me laughing out loud at least a dozen different times. It was truly a joy to read.

– Alexandra Davis, Davis Legal Media

Rich Leonard is a man of many talents, including master storyteller. Here he chronicles his efforts to establish a workable judiciary in many new democracies of Africa while recounting his life story. I had the good fortune being a judge-and from 1983 to 1990 Chief Judge of his court-and vividly remember many of them, though not in the fascinating detail this narrative provides. A good read.

– W. Earl Britt, Judge, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina

An engaging romp through courts and down legal alleys on several continents.

– Kiki Skagen Munshi, Senior Foreign Service Officer (Retired)