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Annual Meeting Honorees, Speakers, Events

Annual Meeting Honorees, Speakers, Events

Kearns Davis

The 119th Annual Meeting of the North Carolina Bar Association will be held on Thursday through Sunday, June 22-25, in Asheville. The Omni Grove Park Inn serves as headquarters for the 2017 NCBA Annual Meeting, marking the 33rd time that the state’s largest voluntary organization for legal professionals has convened at this historic venue.

Click here to access registration.

Greensboro attorney Kearns Davis, the 122nd president of the NCBA, will preside. He will pass the gavel to President-elect Caryn Coppedge McNeill of Raleigh during the installation gala on Saturday evening. The NCBA’s new president-elect will be elected earlier in the day along with a new slate of seven board members who will serve three-year terms on the NCBA Board of Governors.

The distinguished list of speakers includes U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, Chief Judge Roger Gregory of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Chief Justice Mark Martin of the N.C. Supreme Court, former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Henry Frye, Professor Theresa Newman of the Duke University School of Law, Stanley Gaston, president of the Port-au-Prince Bar Association and the Federation of Bars of Haiti, Judge Richard Dietz of the N.C. Court of Appeals, and former NCBA Executive Director Allan Head.

Here is a day-by-day preview of the 2017 NCBA Annual Meeting highlights:

THURSDAY, JUNE 22
Registration opens at 4 p.m. and closes at 8 p.m.

Thursday’s agenda includes mini law firm retreats, Gatherings at the Grove, and the summer meetings of the NCBA Board of Governors and the NCBF Board of Directors.

The evening schedule features a Federal Courthouse Reception hosted by Chief

Judge Frank Whitney and the Western District Board of Judges from 5:30 to 7:30 and the General Practice Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Hyatt Place Hotel from 7:15 to 9:30.

Attorneys comprising the 2017 Hall of Fame induction class are:
•    Leto Copeley, Durham
•    Charles David Gantt, Asheville
•    Bobby Harold Griffin, Monroe
•    Thomas J. White III, Kinston

Free shuttle buses will run to and from the Federal Courthouse and Hyatt Place from 5 to 10:30.

Chief Judge Roger Gregory

FRIDAY, JUNE 23
Registration opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. The Exhibit Hall will be open throughout this time and door prizes will be drawn between 10:30-11 a.m.

Events and activities, numerous receptions, and several outstanding CLE programs are scheduled throughout the day. Exploring Asheville on your own is also highly recommended and the free shuttle buses to and from downtown will operate from 1 p.m. until midnight.

Patron Recognition and Citizen Lawyer breakfasts get the day off to a rousing start, and continental breakfast will be served in the registration and exhibit hall area.

The Friday morning General Session begins at 9 a.m., Judge Frank D. Whitney presiding, and includes:

Citizen Lawyer Recognition
NCBA Citizen Lawyer Awards will be presented to:

  • Raymond Bretzmann, Bretzmann Law Offices, High Point
  • Mittie Smith, Mittie R. Smith,  Attorney at Law, High Point
  • Brandon Lofton, Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson, Charlotte
  • Robert Ramseur, Ragsdale Liggett, Raleigh
  • Jim Morgan, Morgan Herring Morgan Green Rosenblutt & Gill, High Point
  • Forrest Ferrell, Sigmon Clark Mackie Hanvey & Ferrell, Hickory
  • Kathy Manning, Manning & Associates, Greensboro                          
  • Katherine Wiggins Fisher, Battle Winslow Scott & Wiley, Rocky Mount
  • Phillip Hornthal III, Hornthal Riley Ellis & Maland, Elizabeth City
  • Susan Harman-Scott, Susan Harman-Scott, Attorney at Law, Manteo
  • Jean Carter, McGuireWoods, Raleigh
  • Ana Sofia Nunez, Fay & Grafton, Raleigh

John G. Medlin Jr. Award
The John G. Medlin Jr. Award will be presented for only the second time. The award was established by the Board of Governors in 2012 and presented posthumously to its namesake in recognition of the contributions to the administration of justice and judicial independence by a North Carolina citizen who is not a lawyer. Doug Clark, an editorial writer and blogger at the News-Record of Greensboro who has also worked in High Point and Washington, D.C., will receive the award. Clark has long been a champion of judicial independence and has written extensively in opposition to the election of judges and justices in North Carolina.

50 Years Later: Integration of the NCBA
Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of the NCBA's Integration features former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Henry Frye, who along with the late Julius Chambers became the first African-Americans admitted to the NCBA in 1967. Frye will be interviewed on stage by granddaughter Whitney Frye, general counsel and associate commissioner of the N.C. High School Athletic Association and a previous participant in the NCBA Leadership Academy.

Keynote Address: Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory
Roger L. Gregory serves as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. A native of Philadelphia, Gregory was installed on the Fourth Circuit bench by recess appointment in 2000 by President Clinton, then re-nominated by President Bush and confirmed in 2001. The first African American to serve on the Fourth Circuit, he became chief judge on July 8, 2016.

Theresa Newman

Willis Smith and Willis Smith Jr. Professionalism Address
The Willis Smith and Willis Smith Jr. Professionalism Address, presented by Clinical Professor Theresa Newman, co-director of the Wrongful Convictions Clinic and associate director of the Duke Law School Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility. Newman also served as editor of “Lawyer to Lawyer: North Carolina Reflections on the Practice of Law,” published in 2004 by the NCBA Professionalism Committee.

The President’s Luncheon begins at 12:30 and will feature an address by U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis of Mecklenburg County and presentation of the Pro Bono Awards and the H. Brent McKnight Renaissance Lawyer Award.

Senator Thom Tillis
Thom Tillis was elected to the United States Senate in November 2014 following four terms in the N.C. House of Representatives. In 2011 Tillis became only the fifth Republican elected to serve as Speaker of the N.C. House. A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Tillis is a graduate of the University of Maryland University College and served two terms on the Town of Cornelius Board of Commissioners prior to his election to the General Assembly.

Pro Bono Awards
The recipients of the 2017 Pro Bono Awards are:

  • William Thorp Pro Bono Service Award: William L. Esser of Parker Poe in Charlotte
  • Chief Justice Award: Wake County Bar Association’s Pro Bono Expunction Project
  • Deborah Greenblatt Outstanding Legal Services Attorney Award: Jim Holloway of Legal Aid of North Carolina in Sylva
  • Large Law Firm Award: Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP of Raleigh.
  • Small and Medium Law Firm Award: Garrity & Gossage, LLP of Matthews
  • Law Student Group Award: Elon University School of Law’s Country Conditions Project
  • The Younger Lawyer Pro Bono Award: Rachel Blunk of Sharpless & Stavola in Greensboro, Cabell Clay of Moore & Van Allen in Charlotte, and Brooks Jaffa of Cranford, Buckley, Schultze, Tomchin, Allen & Buie in Charlotte.

H. Brent McKnight Renaissance Lawyer Award
Dean Martin H. Brinkley of the UNC School of Law is the 2017 recipient of the H. Brent McKnight Renaissance Lawyer Award. He served as president of the NCBA in 2011-12.

An event-filled evening schedule features the second presentation of the Legal Legends of Color Awards beginning at 8 p.m. to:

  • Judge Albert Diaz of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson
  • Professor Irving L. Joyner of the NCCU School of Law

Back at the Grove Park, feel free to join in on a recent tradition of the Annual Meeting, the Late Night Hootenanny. If you play a stringed instrument, don’t forget to bring it and join in on the fun from 9:30 to midnight.

Caryn McNeill

SATURDAY, JUNE 24
Registration opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 1 p.m. The Exhibit Hall will be open throughout this time and door prizes will be drawn between 10:15-10:45 a.m.

The Saturday General Session begins at 8:45 a.m., Judge Patrice A. Hinnant presiding, and includes:

Business of the Bar
Nomination of a new president-elect, who will serve as president in 2018-19, and seven members of the Board of Governors who will serve three-year terms, will be presented for election by the members in attendance. Changes in the bylaws will also be voted on.

Nominees for three-year terms on the Board of Governors are:

  • John C. Bircher III of New Bern
  • Damon T. Duncan of Greensboro
  • Theodore C. “Ted” Edwards II of Durham
  • Katherine W. Fisher of Rocky Mount
  • Howard L. Gum of Asheville
  • Robert E. Harrington of Charlotte
  • Tamara J. Stringer of Charlotte

The NCBA’s new vice presidents were elected by the Board of Governors in April and will join the new board members in taking office on Sunday morning, June 25, during the orientation meeting.

Judge Julian Mann III, director and chief administrative law judge in the N.C. Office of Administrative Hearings, was elected to a two-year at-large position.

New vice presidents who will serve one-year terms are:

  • Judge Richard A. Elmore of the N.C. Court of Appeals
  • Superior Court Judge Richard L. Doughton of Sparta
  • Wake County Chief District Court Judge Robert B. Rader of Raleigh
  • Richard E. Myers II, Henry Brandis Distinguished Professor of Law, UNC School of Law

Leadership Academy
The Class of 2017 will be recognized for completion of the NCBA Leadership Academy. The members of this year’s class are:

  • Daniel Adams, Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard LLP, Durham
  • David Baxter, Sumrell, Sugg, Carmichael, Hicks & Hart, P.A., New Bern
  • Jonathan Bogues, Rogers Townsend & Thomas PC Durham
  • Martha Bradley, Cannon Law, P.C., Waynesville
  • Laura Clark, Legal Aid of North Carolina, Wilson
  • Anna Davis, Wake County District Attorney’s Office, Raleigh
  • Geoff Gisler, Southern Environmental Law Center, Chapel Hill
  • Ariel Harris, Smith Moore Leatherwood, Charlotte
  • Neubia Harris, Legal Aid of North Carolina, Raleigh
  • Leah Hermiller, Graebe Hanna & Sullivan PLLC, Cary
  • Jason Idilbi, The Clearing House Payments Company, Winston-Salem
  • Ihuoma Igboanugo, The Crescent Law Practice, Raleigh
  • Kristin Kelly, Halvorsen Bradshaw PLLC, Winston-Salem
  • Brandon McPherson, Schwartz & Shaw PLLC, Raleigh
  • Manisha Patel, Ward Black Law, PA, Greensboro
  • Jeremy Wilson, Ward and Smith, P.A., Wilmington

Haiti Project
An update on the NCBA’s emerging relationship with bar and business leaders in Haiti will feature remarks from Stanley Gaston, president of the Port-au-Prince Bar Association and the Federation of Bars of Haiti. Gaston and Jacques Miguel Sanon, who serves on the board of the Port-au-Prince bar, attended last year’s Annual Meeting and have further solidified the NCBA-Haiti connection over the past year, during which a 12-member NCBA delegation, led by President Kearns Davis, participated in an international investment conference in Haiti.

State of the Judiciary
Chief Justice Mark Martin has served on the N.C. Supreme Court since 1999 and as chief justice since Sept. 1, 2014. He previously served on the Superior Court and N.C. Court of Appeals, and is a past chair of the ABA Judicial Division and a former NCBA vice president. Martin is a graduate of Western Carolina University and the UNC School of Law. In September 2015, he convened the North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice, which issued its final report on March 15, 2017.

Court of Appeals 50th Anniversary
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the N.C. Court of Appeals, an event that certainly merits recognition of the court and its judges by the NCBA, whose Committee on Improving and Expediting the Administration of Justice (“the Bell Commission”) played an integral role in enhancements to the judicial system that transpired in the 1960s. Remarks will be provided by Chief Judge Linda McGee and Immediate Past-president Shelby Benton.

Throughout the afternoon, look for NCBA members all over the place, from the tennis courts (Lawyers vs. Judges) to the golf course (GPI Golf Tournament) to downtown Asheville (free shuttle from 1-5 p.m.) to mountain hiking led by John Mason. Members will also take advantage of more outstanding CLE programming, and many will attend the annual YLD Luncheon.

Young Lawyers Division Luncheon
Judge Richard Dietz of the N.C. Court of Appeals is the featured speaker for the YLD Luncheon. He was appointed to the court in 2014, at which time he was serving as vice chair of the NCBA Appellate Practice Section, and was elected to an eight-year term in 2016.

The luncheon also includes the presentation of awards and the ceremonial passing of the gavel among all of the former chairs in attendance, culminating with outgoing Chair Matt Cordell of Greensboro and incoming Chair Jason Walters of Winston-Salem. YLD members will also vote on nominees Rachel Blunk of Greensboro for chair-elect, Cabell Clay of Charlotte for secretary, and Kristen Kirby for ABA representative.

The Younger Lawyer Pro Bono Award will be re-presented to Blunk, Clay and Brooks Jaffa of Charlotte for leading the NCBA’s volunteer response to Hurricane Matthew through the Disaster Legal Services hotline.

The YLD will also present the Charles F. Blanchard Young Lawyer of the Year Award to Will Quick of Raleigh and the Robinson O. Everett Professionalism Award to Catherine Lee of Raleigh.

Saturday evening features the installation of Caryn Coppedge McNeill of Raleigh as the 123rd president of the NCBA. A 1988 graduate of Davidson College, McNeill received her law degree from Duke University School of Law in 1991. She has practiced her entire career with Smith Anderson.

This promises to be anything but your traditional installation banquet, as evidenced by the fact that the dress code is “black tie and blue jeans.” Entertainment will be provided by Asheville-based Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters, an emerging country-Americana band whose appearance at the NCBA Annual Meeting falls between the release of their new album and their overseas summer tour.

SUNDAY, JUNE 25
The final day of the NCBA Annual Meeting includes the annual Campbell Law School Family Prayer Breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and the orientation meeting of the NCBA Board of Governors at 10 a.m.

Family Prayer Breakfast
Allan Head, who retired at the end of last year following 35 years as executive director of the NCBA, will be the guest speaker. Head, who came to work for the NCBA in December 1973 as executive secretary, is a graduate of Wake Forest University and the Wake Forest University School of Law. Breakfast begins at 8:30 and the service starts at 9 for what promises to be a perfect ending to the 119th NCBA Annual Meeting.