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Military/Vet Lawyers Honor Warner

Military/Vet Lawyers Honor Warner

Kirk Warner, left, accepts award from Matthew Wilcut, section chair.

What could be more fitting than the Military and Veterans Law Section presenting the North Carolina Bar Association’s newest section award to Kirk Warner, unless it would be to name the award in his honor?

The section recorded both milestones at its recent annual meeting and CLE by establishing the Kirk Warner Award for Distinguished Service to the Military and Veterans and presenting it to the individual for whom it is named.

“I was absolutely shocked and humbled by the section for even thinking of naming an award after me, let alone receiving it,” Warner said. “I only accept it on behalf of all of those who are serving us, which is the support mission of the section. Our entire focus and mine is always to take care of the soldier, seaman and airman standing post for us.”

A partner with Smith Anderson in Raleigh, Warner previously chaired the NCBA Military & Veterans Affairs Committee and led the successful effort to transition the committee into an NCBA Section. He currently serves on the NCBA Board of Governors and the North Carolina Bar Foundation Board of Directors.

“Three years ago,” Warner added, “when this was conceived as the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, there was a lot of enthusiasm for it. That has been borne out by it growing exponentially to becoming a full-fledged section, which amplifies its ability to serve the needs of our veterans and serving military and their families.

“This is really exciting to see; it is an amazing start for a group of folks who are so well-intended. We went from crawling to walking, and now we’re running!”

Warner comes by his devotion to military issues and veterans affairs naturally, having served 33 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves prior to his retirement in 2013 with the rank of Colonel from the Judge Advocate General Corps.

Warner heads Smith Anderson’s Products Liability practice group and is a senior litigator in the firm’s Commercial Litigation team. He joined the firm in 2000 and previously practiced as a partner with Yates, McLamb and Weyher and as an associate in the Cincinnati firm of Dinsmore & Shohl.

His military experience, as detailed on the firm’s website, includes the following:

“(Col. Warner) served as the Deputy Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon for three JCS Chairmen. In that role, he served on many Government Interagency Panels and Working Groups for Governmental Leaders and Deputies and as both an Advisor and an Investigating Officer for major National Security and Defense Department Inquiries, Events and Incidents.

“He also served as the first Commander of the 134th Legal Operations Detachment (LOD), Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and as the Staff Judge Advocate of the Army’s Training Command. Deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), he became the Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, Combined Joint Task Force-7 (Coalition Provisional Authority), Baghdad, Iraq, immediately following the fall of Baghdad until September 2003 and was the Senior Judge Advocate in the Command Operations Center, Coalition Forces Land Component Command (U.S. Third Army), Camp Doha, Kuwait, during the march to Baghdad.

“He commanded the 12th JAG Detachment in OIF. COL Warner also served as a Team Chief, 12th Legal Support Organization and the Command Judge Advocate for the 171st Corps Support Group. He previously served as a Medical Service Corps Company Commander, Executive Officer and Department Chief for several hospital units. COL Warner is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the Joint Forces Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College. He has chaired Advisory Boards, Tiger Teams and Working Groups as a Senior Army and Joint Service JAG Leader.”

Warner also possesses an impressive array of academic credentials, which he has earned over the course of five decades: North Carolina State University, M.B.A., Biosciences, 2015; U.S. Army War College, M.S.S., Strategic Studies, 2007; North Carolina State University, M.A., History, 1999; Duke University and University of Toledo, J.D., 1983; and The Ohio State University, B.S., Zoology, 1980.

Award Background and Criteria
The Kirk Warner Award for Distinguished Service to the Military and Veterans was established by the Military and Veterans Law Section to recognize an individual who has provided not only outstanding service to military members and/or veterans but who also promotes the same in others by their devotion to selfless assistance to those who are serving or who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States. The award is named for and in recognition of the work and commitment of Colonel Kirk Warner who has both a long and continuing history of service to the military and to veterans and who has been the driving force in establishing the creation of the Military and Veterans Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association to promote meaningful support and aid to active duty and retired military personnel.

The recipient of this annual award shall be selected from among nominated members of the Military and Veterans Law Section who meet the following criteria:

  • The attorney must be a resident of the state of North Carolina and be nominated by a member in good standing of the North Carolina Bar Association.
  • The attorney must be a current member of the NCBA and its Military and Veterans Law Section.
  • The attorney must have at least five years of continuous practice of Military and/or Veterans Law.
  • The attorney must have an outstanding record and reputation in the legal community, and must follow the highest ethical standards.
  • The attorney must have exhibited unselfish commitment to the advancement of the rights of military members and veterans and to the creation of a positive public image for the Armed Forces and veterans who have served.
  • The attorney must have an exemplary record of active participation in efforts to support, provide service to, and improve the lives of active duty and/or retired military personnel. This could include pro bono representation in military or Veterans law or community service involving veterans or military service members.