2021 NCBA Annual Meeting: Awards Galore And More

The 123rd Annual Meeting of the North Carolina Bar Association will be held on Thursday and Friday, June 17-18. A virtual format is being utilized once again this year, but the agenda and experience will more closely resemble annual meetings from years past.

This is especially true when it comes to the presentation of awards, which has always been a big part of the NCBA Annual Meeting. This year an awards and recognitions ceremony will be held on Thursday, June 17, during which the H. Brent McKnight Renaissance Lawyer Award, Distinguished Paralegal Award, Citizen Lawyer Awards, Pro Bono Awards and Young Lawyers Division Awards will be presented, and new members of the Legal Practice Hall of Fame will be announced.

On Friday, June 18, the Legal Legends of Color Awards will be presented in a special ceremony commemorating the sixth group of individuals to receive this award.

The recipients of the YLD Awards and Hall of Fame inductees will be announced during the presentation ceremony, but the recipients of the other awards have been announced.

LeAnn Nease Brown of Brown & Bunch in Chapel Hill, immediate past president of the NCBA and the North Carolina Bar Foundation, will receive the H. Brent McKnight Renaissance Lawyer Award. Alicia Mitchell-Mercer of Brown & Associates in Charlotte will receive the Paralegal Division’s Distinguished Paralegal Award.

The recipients of the Citizen Lawyer Awards are:

  • The Hon. Cheri Beasley, Raleigh, McGuireWoods
  • David Benbow, Statesville, Benbow, Davidson, & Martin, PC
  • Judge Richard Dietz, Winston-Salem, N.C. Court of Appeals
  • James K. Dorsett III, Raleigh, Smith Anderson
  • Nancy Short Ferguson, Greensboro, Chicago Title Insurance Company
  • The Hon. A. Robinson Hassell, Greensboro, ABA Judicial Division
  • Tate Ogburn, Charlotte, Poyner Spruill, LLP
  • Judge Karlene Turrentine, Raleigh, N.C. Office of Administrative Hearings
  • John R. Wester, Charlotte, Robinson Bradshaw

The recipients of the Pro Bono Awards are:

  • Deborah Greenblatt Outstanding Legal Services Attorney Award:
    Johnnie C. Larrie – Legal Aid of North Carolina (Raleigh)
  • Law Firm Pro Bono Award:
    Robinson Bradshaw (Charlotte)
  • Law School Pro Bono Award:
    Elon University School of Law – People Not Property Project (Greensboro)
  • Outstanding Collaborative Pro Bono Award:
    Charles W. Williamson Bar Foundation (Henderson)
  • William Thorp Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Service Award:
    Sean Lew – Sean Lew, PLLC Attorney at Law (Winston-Salem)
  • Young Lawyer Division Pro Bono Service Award:
    John Noor – Roberts & Stevens (Asheville)

The recipients of the Legal Legends of Color Awards are:

  • Professor James E. Coleman Jr., Duke University School of Law
  • Judge Wanda Bryant, retired, N.C. Court of Appeals
  • Attorney Karen Bethea-Shields, first woman to be elected judge in Durham County
  • Attorney Julian Pierce (posthumously), Lumbee civil rights activist
  • Judge Elreta Melton Alexander (posthumously), first Black woman in North Carolina to be licensed and practice as a lawyer, to argue before its Supreme Court, and to be elected judge

Thursday’s agenda also includes a welcome reception and entertainment. On Friday, the NCBA will conduct Business of the Bar, including election of the new president-elect and board members. President Mark Holt of Raleigh will complete his term as the 126th president of the NCBA and 62nd president of the North Carolina Bar Foundation, and Jon Heyl of Charlotte will be sworn in as president of the NCBA and NCBF.

Chief Justice Paul Newby of the N.C. Supreme Court will deliver a message regarding the judiciary on Friday, and a CLE, “Mind the (Justice) Gap: Addressing North Carolina’s Unmet Legal Needs,” will be provided for members at no charge.

In fact, the entire NCBA Annual Meeting is free, but registration is required. For registration and additional information, visit the Annual Meeting webpage.