Skip to main content

H. Brent McKnight Renaissance Lawyer Award

The H. Brent McKnight Renaissance Lawyer Award was established by the North Carolina Bar Association in honor of Judge McKnight’s contributions to professionalism and the practice of law in North Carolina, and in recognition of the enduring influence and high ideals of the full, accomplished life of a “Renaissance Lawyer.” Proposed by the NCBA Professionalism Committee and adopted in 2006 by the Board of Governors, the award recognizes attorneys who demonstrate the “Renaissance Lawyer” qualities embodied by Judge McKnight, who died in 2004 while serving on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of N.C.

The award, presented at the NCBA Annual Meeting, seeks to recognize those North Carolina attorneys whose trustworthiness, respectful and courteous treatment of all people, enthusiasm for intellectual achievement and commitment to excellence in work, and service to the profession and community during a multi-faceted, accomplished life, inspire others.

Judge McKnight served with distinction as a judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, as U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Western District of N.C., as Mecklenburg County District Court Judge, as Assistant District Attorney for Mecklenburg County and as a duly licensed North Carolina lawyer in private practice. He exemplified the characteristics of the “Renaissance Lawyer” as they pertain to personal integrity, the pursuit of excellence and enthusiasm for intellectual achievement, service to the community and the profession and the embodiment of professionalism.


  • An attorney who through his/her accomplishments and multi-faceted life, serves as an example by inspiring others to renew their commitments to professionalism, integrity, intellectual achievement, civility, and service in the practice of law;
  • An attorney who possesses personal integrity;
  • An attorney who pursues excellence in legal work, and respects judicial officers, other lawyers, and members of the public;
  • An attorney who provides pro bono services to those in need of such services;
  • An attorney who provides service to the profession locally, in the state and/or nation, including but not limited to service
    through professional organizations such as local, state, and national bar associations;
  • An attorney who provides service to the community through civic, charitable, or religious organizations;
  • An attorney who is currently active in North Carolina, including lawyers in private practice, judges, corporate counsel and academicians; and
  • An attorney who is a member in good standing of the North Carolina State Bar and North Carolina Bar Association.

View award recipients.

Nomination Guidelines

Background Information & Nominee Data Form with Certification of Eligibility: In the form below, please attach a current resume or similar summary for the nominee, including information about the nominee’s immediate family. Please submit the Nominee Data form together with the completed Certification of Eligibility of the Nominee, also found within the form.

Narrative: Describe the nominee’s integrity, enthusiasm for intellectual achievement, commitment to civility, pursuit of excellence, and service as exhibited by Judge H. Brent McKnight and listed as criteria for the Award. Please include specific examples of the nominee’s trustworthiness, his/her respectful and courteous treatment of all people, his/her enthusiasm for intellectual achievement and commitment to excellence in work and her/her service to the profession, and the community. Include any supporting data such as news articles, publications and other documentation. However, focus should be on the intellectual and professional characteristics of the nominee, as well as his/her interests that can be fairly characterized as “renaissance,” which inspire others in the community or state and not on whether the nominee has received other recognition. The written narrative, exclusive of the supporting data, should be no longer than 3 pages. 

Letters of Support: Letters of support from individuals or organizations that explain the manner in which the nominee meets the criteria specified. Please include no more than five (5) such letters.

Renewal of Nomination: Nominations not selected will be considered for the next year if renewed by the nominator; nominations not renewed shall be deemed expired and automatically withdrawn. Nominations may be renewed for a maximum of 5 consecutive years following the year of the initial submission. Nominations automatically expire six years after initial submission, if not selected. The Professionalism Committee will contact nominators to renew eligible nominations each year before the deadline. To renew a nomination, submission of an updated Nominee Data Form with updated Certification of Eligibility, by the deadline is required. All other supporting documentation need not be re-submitted.

Withdrawal of Nomination by Professionalism Committee: The Professionalism Committee reserves the right to withdraw any nomination from consideration at any time upon determination that a nominee does not meet the criteria for eligibility.

The deadline for this year’s nominations is December 8, 2023.

Award | H. Brent McKnight Renaissance Lawyer Award

Nominee Information

Nomination Renewal
Maximum upload size: 52.43MB
Maximum upload size: 52.43MB
Maximum upload size: 52.43MB

Contact Information for Person Submitting Nomination

Certification of Eligibility