ftentimes, I find people fall into their careers for one unintended reason or another. You might go to school with plans of becoming a doctor but discover you neither enjoy nor excel in biology. Whatever the case may be, it seems most people lack a career plan at a young age, and if even they do, many times it is unlikely that they end up following through with that career. But I have. Although I have questioned my career choice of being a lawyer many times, I mean MANY times over the years, I know there is no other career for me. And no, it was not just because I was an argumentative teenager. Here is my why:

When I was ten years old, my parents divorced. My mom undertook the immense responsibility of raising us kids on her own, and although she struggled with working several jobs, eventually, she did start to date again. And who else of course did she begin to date, yes indeed it was a lawyer. I was distrustful at first, but gradually let my guard down and started to get to know him. He taught me many things. He encouraged my love of reading and writing and bought me countless books which I voraciously read. It was because of him that I decided I wanted to become a lawyer.

For Christmas one year he bought me a dictionary. I was not particularly excited by that gift as a twelve year old. Inside the front cover of the dictionary, he inscribed a note to me. It read: “May the wisdom and knowledge you gain through life teach you compassion and understanding of others which will bring you true happiness.” At the time, I was not sure what that inscription really meant. However, the dictionary served its purpose. I would pick a big word each week from it, learn it, and try to use it in the appropriate context all week. It made for some interesting conversations. It also helped my reading and writing skills tremendously.

That dictionary has traveled with me over the years to many places and with much use. It still sits in my bookcase today, though a little worse for the wear. I have long thought about the inscription and why he wrote it. I wonder if he were here today, would he be proud of the person that I have become, would he find that I act with compassion and understanding of others. In my personal and professional life, I try to live by his words. Whether it is understanding the challenges involved in closing a real estate purchase, showing compassion and empathy for my clients who are struggling physically, mentally, and financially due to a disability, or guiding clients who are planning for their future needs with estate planning documents. And of course, it requires much understanding and patience raising precocious twin girls.

Speaking of family, I would not be where I am today without the enduring support of my family. My parents, Don and Judy Luff, have always been there to shepherd me and to support me. I am so fortunate that we live close to them and can enjoy time together. My girls love spending time with their Mimi and Pop-Pop, and I am especially fortunate that Mimi helps me with afterschool care of the girls. My husband, Brendan, is my partner in every sense. Successfully managing two companies as the Broker in Charge of both Coastal Vacations – Oak Island and Coastal Development and Realty – Oak Island, Brendan is incredibly supportive of all that I do. And of course, my precious daughters, Harper and Kennedy, have helped shape who I am today. They have helped teach me to act with compassion and patience, and because of them, I know and understand the unconditional love parents have for their children. It is a love like no other. They are the lights of my life.

So as I come back to the note in the dictionary and how it relates to my practice of law, I continue to strive to practice law with compassion and understanding. I think it shows in my interaction with clients and with my staff. One final word of thanks before I sign off: I wouldn’t be here today running a successful law practice without the commitment and loyalty of my staff. They go above and beyond in all that they do. They took a leap of faith with me, and for that I will always be grateful.

With much appreciation and true happiness,



Carol Holmberg is the Gordon Law Firm’s closing paralegal.  I have 11 years of experience doing closings.  My prior work experience also includes assisting a financial planner and working as a customer service representative for Proctor and Gamble.  I moved to Brunswick County in 2003 from Millersville, Pennsylvania.  I enjoy spending time with my family including my husband, mom, brother and sister-in-law, two children and their spouses, and six grandchildren ages 18 months to 12.  In my spare time, I like to garden, crochet, and spend time with the grandkids who I adore.

Melanie Renae Phillips, born and raised here in Brunswick County. I am a 1995 graduate of West Brunswick High School and have been searching title since 1999.  I am a North Carolina Certified Paralegal and have been a member of the North Carolina State Bar Since 2007. I am a single mom to my beautiful daughter Kaylee and we enjoy reading together and spending time with friends and family.

Whitney Wilburn is one of the Gordon Law Firm’s closing paralegal. I graduated in 2010 from South Brunswick High School. I then studied Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. I have worked with the community since I was 16 and couldn’t image doing anything else. In my spare time I love spending time with my amazing family and being out on the water any chance I get.

Deresa Spencer is the Gordon Law Firm’s legal assistant.  I have over 25 years of experience closing real estate in Oregon, SC and NC.  My family moved to Little River, SC in 2015 from Portland, Oregon.  I enjoy spending time with my husband, my small son and 2 rescue pups.  In my spare time I like to be outside doing anything from hiking in the woods to laying on the beach.