Legal Legends of Color Honored at Annual Meeting

The North Carolina Bar Association honored the 2024 Legal Legends of Color (LLOC) on Thursday, June 20, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Charlotte Uptown. The ninth LLOC Awards Celebration was a featured event of the NCBA Annual Meeting.

Presented by the Legal Legends of Color Subcommittee of the NCBA Minorities in the Profession Committee, the LLOC Awards “honor attorneys and other legal professionals of color whose legacies represent ceilings broken for all attorneys who follow in their footsteps and whose impacts on the legal profession are undeniable.”

This year’s honorees are Judge James Andrew Wynn, Charles L. Becton, Judge Patrice A. Hinnant (Ret.), Cindy Marie Patton and the late Karl Adkins.

Judge James Andrew Wynn has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit since 2010, and previously served on the N.C. Court of Appeals and N.C. Supreme Court. He served four years of active duty in the U.S. Navy JAG Corps and 26 years in the U.S. Naval Reserve, including service as a military judge, and retired in 2009 with the rank of captain. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (B.A.), Marquette University School of Law (J.D.), and the University of Virginia School of Law (L.L.M.), and practiced law with Fitch, Butterfield and Wynn in Wilson and Greenville before becoming a judge. Wynn is a past president of the ABA Judicial Division and serves on the Marquette University Board of Trustees. Judge Wynn regretfully missed the LLOC Awards Celebration in order to attend the funeral of Marquette University President Michael R. Lovell. Judge Karlene Turrentine accepted the award on Wynn’s behalf.

Charles L. Becton headshot.Charles L. Becton is a renowned litigator and professor of trial advocacy who has also served as a judge, university president and president of three bar organizations. He received his B.A. degree from Howard University in 1966, his J.D. degree from Duke University School of Law in 1969, and his L.L.M. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1986. Becton served on the N.C. Court of Appeals from 1981-90 and practiced with Becton, Slifkin & Bell from 1990-2008. He is a past president of the North Carolina Bar Association and N.C. Black Lawyers Association, and was the first African American to serve as president of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers (now N.C. Advocates for Justice). Becton also served as interim chancellor of North Carolina Central University and Elizabeth City State University.

The Honorable Patrice A. Hinnant (Ret.) headshotJudge Patrice A. Hinnant (Ret.) served for 22 years as a Superior Court and District Court judge in Guilford County. She is a graduate of Spelman College and North Carolina Central University School of Law, and a former vice president of the NCBA Board of Governors who currently serves as an N.C. State Bar councilor. Judge Hinnant holds numerous distinctions in the Guilford County legal community as the first Black female assistant public defender, the first female elected District Court judge from the Democratic Party, the first Black female and first sitting judge elected president of the Greensboro Bar Association, first Black female resident Superior Court judge, and first Black female elected State Bar councilor.

Cindy Patton headshotCindy Marie Patton represented low-income residents in Mecklenburg County for more than 30 years on behalf of Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, where she interned as a law student and began her legal career, and Legal Aid of North Carolina, where she served as managing attorney of the Charlotte office. She earned a B.A. in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and worked in private industry for 10 years before following her heart to the UNC School of Law to become a lawyer. She was both the first female and the first African American to serve as managing attorney of the LANC-Charlotte office, where she guided the growth of staff and expansion of legal services throughout her tenure.

Karl Adkins headshotKarl Adkins, who was honored posthumously, was a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and 1968 recipient of the John Hay Whitney Fellowship to attend the University of Michigan Law School. After receiving his Juris Doctor in 1971, Adkins clerked for District Court Judge Damon Keith in Detroit before moving to Charlotte, where he joined Chambers, Stein, Ferguson and Lanning. He focused his practice on criminal defense and personal injury and remained with the firm for 32 years before serving as a Superior Court judge. His distinguished career includes service as president of the Legal Services of Southern Piedmont Board of Directors and the N.C. Association of Black Lawyers and as a member of the N.C. Board of Law Examiners and N.C. Academy of Trial Lawyers (now N.C. Advocates for Justice) Board of Governors. Adkins was a husband, father and grandfather who was loved and cherished by Carrietta, his wife of 52 years, his daughters Brandie Harris (Ben Harris) and Kristan Adkins (Dana Lumsden) and his beloved grandchildren, Karly and Maxwell. Carriette Adkins accepted the award on behalf of her husband.

Additional information on this year’s recipients and a complete listing of previous LLOC honorees is accessible here.