Caryn McNeill New NCBA President
Caryn Coppedge McNeill of Raleigh was installed as the 123rd president of the North Carolina Bar Association on Saturday night, June 24, at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville. She will also preside over the North Carolina Bar Foundation.
Chief Justice Mark Martin of the N.C. Supreme Court administered the oath of office to McNeill while her daughter, Jane, held the Bible.
In her installation address, McNeill spoke about her longtime relationship with the NCBA as a community, and the vital role that community plays in service to the public and the legal profession.
“Individually as lawyers,” McNeill said, “and collectively as a community, the future stands before us. None of us can know what that future holds, but I do know the best path forward is the one we take together. I understand the oath I have taken tonight as a charge to serve this community, and, in so doing, the public it seeks to serve. I am profoundly grateful for this opportunity.”
We live in an era of uncertainty, she added, an era in which the contributions of lawyers have become increasingly important to society.
“The near future seems likely to be as challenging as the recent past,” McNeill said. “As lawyers, we are called to bring our wisdom and problem-solving abilities to bear, to exhibit the finest personal and professional qualities – the qualities that make us leaders in our communities – and to live our values, so that they are not just relics of a gentler age, but a continuing part of our vibrant democracy.”
McNeill is a partner with Smith Anderson, where she has practiced her entire career, and leads the firm’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice Group. She is the fifth member of the firm to serve as president of the NCBA, preceded by Martin H. Brinkley (2011-12), John L. Jernigan (1999-2000), James K. Dorsett Jr. (1959-60) and Willis Smith (1941-42).
A graduate of Davidson College and the Duke University School of Law, McNeill served as chair of the Young Lawyers Division in 1999-2000 and as a member of the NCBA Board of Governors in 2001-02. Her extensive list of leadership positions includes service as co-chair of the inaugural 4ALL Statewide Service Day Committee.
Over the previous two years, she has served as chair of the Ravenscroft School Board of Trustees, the first woman to do so at a school that was founded in 1862.
McNeill and her husband John have three children, Johnny, a rising sophomore soccer player at Sewanee: The University of the South, and Alex and Jane, both students at Ravenscroft School.