Oast Receives Government & Public Sector Section Award

Robert OastThe North Carolina Bar Association Government & Public Sector Section presented the Grainger Barrett Award for Excellence to Robert Oast of McGuire Wood & Bissette in Asheville on May 6.

The award was presented in conjunction with the section’s virtual annual meeting.

Oast has practiced law for nearly 40 years, focusing much of his work on local government and land use law. He retired as city attorney for his hometown of Asheville in 2013 following more than 17 years of service in that position, and earlier served as an assistant city attorney in Wilmington and city attorney in Greenville.

He holds three degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, earning a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature in 1978, a Master of Regional Planning (Economic and Community Development) in 1982, and a Juris Doctor in 1982. He has served as associate professor of practice in City and Regional Planning at The Ohio State University and remains on the adjunct faculty there.

“Receiving the Grainger Barrett award is humbling,” Oast said. “It is especially meaningful because it comes from professionals who know what is involved in this work, and because it recognizes a body of work over the course of a career.

“The award description refers to ‘quiet excellence.’ I think that the ‘quiet’ part of that description is something that government and public sector lawyers aspire to as much as the ‘excellence’ part. This is perhaps the only NCBA award that recognizes its recipients for keeping a low profile, and in that sense, it truly belongs to every one of us.”

Joining the ranks of those who have received this honor, he added, is especially meaningful.

“Being included with the previous recipients also makes the award especially meaningful,” Oast said. “I know many of them, and have frequently turned to them for advice on how to get things done and avoid mistakes. I owe a lot of the credit for this award to them, and to the other attorneys in this section; what I did was listen.”

Educational and networking opportunities, he said, have also added value to his involvement in the NCBA and its sections.

“My involvement in the Government & Public Sector Section has been very helpful over the years,” Oast said. “Every CLE put on by this section that I have attended has been among the best. Even if a session is about something that I am familiar with, I can always learn something. I am also a member (and past chair) of the Zoning, Planning & Land Use Section. Both are great networks that I continue to use, and I try to be responsive when other attorneys call me.

I have worked with the NCBA in other ways, including as a section chair and working on legislation. I am always impressed with the helpfulness, knowledge, and hard work of the staff and the lawyers who make it run.”

The Grainger Barrett Award for Excellence is to honor an outstanding government or public sector attorney as an exemplar of the excellence, dedication and passion for justice of North Carolina’s government and public sector attorneys. It is named for Grainger Barrett, who served as county attorney for Cumberland County. Barrett died in 2009 and received the award posthumously in 2010, at which time it was named in his honor.

Previous recipients of the award are:

  • Al Benshoff (2020)
  • Christine Simpson (2019)
  • Thomas A. McCormick Jr. (2018)
  • Judge Frank Whitney (2017)
  • Frayda Bluestein (2016)
  • Chief Justice Sarah Parker (2015)
  • Ellis Hankins (2014)
  • Lynne Weaver and Philip A. Lehman (2012)
  • James B. Blackburn III (2011)
  • Grainger R. Barrett (2010)
  • Jeffrey P. Gray (2009)
  • Curtis B. Venable (2008)
  • Ann B. Wall (2007)
  • Dan McLawhorn (2006)
  • Gill P. Beck (2005)
  • John Stuart Bruce (2004)
  • Jo Anne Sanford (2003)
  • Ann Reed (2001)

<  Previous article  —  Next article  >  |  MAY 2021 ISSUE PAGE