McIntyre Receives Liberty Bell Award
Congressman Mike McIntyre has been selected to receive the 2020 Liberty Bell Award by the Young Lawyers Division of the North Carolina Bar Association. The award recognizes McIntyre for his commitment to strengthening our democracy and promoting civic engagement.
Law Day is celebrated annually by the NCBA, the YLD and the North Carolina Bar Foundation on the first Friday in May, as proclaimed by the governor. The event commemorates the rule of law, our governmental and legal processes, the justice system, civic engagement and our protected freedoms.
Although this year’s awards ceremony was cancelled due to the coronavirus, the tradition of selecting “an individual who has strengthened the American system of freedom under the law” by the Young Lawyers Division continues.
McIntyre has devoted his career to local, statewide and national service, and has continually challenged lawyers, members of the community and students to do the same. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives for North Carolina’s 7th District from 1997 to 2015, and now serves as Director of Government Relations for Poyner Spruill in Raleigh.
While serving in Congress, McIntyre received top national legislative awards on veterans, law enforcement, agriculture, economic development, coastal and senior citizens issues, rural healthcare, fitness and youth sports. The Secretary of the Navy presented him its highest civilian award, the Outstanding Public Service Award.
McIntyre was named a charter member of the North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society by the N.C. Supreme Court in 2016. In 2018 he received the Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake, Jr. Public Service Award, which is presented by the NCBA to “an outstanding lawyer in North Carolina who has performed exemplary public service.” McIntyre was chosen as Lawyer of the Year by North Carolina Lawyers Weekly in 2019.
A native of Lumberton, McIntyre is a 1978 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar, and UNC School of Law (1981), from which he received the Distinguished Alumni Award last year. Upon his return to Robeson County in 1981, he started the Citizenship Education Committee for the Robeson County Bar Association, served on the ABA’s YLD Citizenship Education Executive Committee, and chaired the same committee for the NCBA as a young lawyer.
McIntyre has volunteered in the classroom for over 35 years, written lesson plans, chaired Robeson County‘s Bicentennial of the Constitution celebration, served on the ABA’s YLD National Community Law Week Committee and chaired the local Law Day Committee. He has also served on the NCBA ’s Lawyers Advisory Committee for the N.C. Commission on the Bicentennial of the Constitution and received the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service for his work with students and educators.
To encourage today’s students to engage in civic action and prepare to be the next generation of leaders, McIntyre hosted the Youth Leadership Summit annually for all the schools in his congressional district, as well as taught his “Classroom from Congress on Citizenship” at schools across the region. He recently helped teach a class on public service at UNC and is co-founder of the McIntyre-Whichard Legal Fellows mentorship program at UNC Law.
He is founder of the McIntyre Youth Leadership Challenge, which encourages students to embrace and practice the principles of good citizenship. The annual competition, held in conjunction with Law Day, was created in 2017 through the establishment of the Douglas Carmichael McIntyre II Justice Fund of the NCBF Endowment.
In his Liberty Bell nomination, a colleague and member of the bar noted that McIntyre “has relentlessly advocated for a better understanding of our legal system in our schools and communities in North Carolina and Washington ... .” The nomination further states that McIntyre “epitomizes the very essence of the Liberty Bell Award – through his work, courage, civic activity and public service.”
In accepting the Liberty Bell Award, McIntyre stated:
A lawyer’s leadership translates into being not only an officer of the court, but also an example in the community. … It is important that we as attorneys are not only accountable in our professional responsibilities, but also in our moral obligation and civic duty to help students and citizens in the larger community understand the key principles of law, justice and fairness and the ways in which each one of us can contribute to the betterment of our communities, state and nation.
In selecting the recipient of the Liberty Bell Award, the Young Lawyers Division sought to incorporate the 2020 Law Day theme of “Your Vote, Your Voice, Our Democracy: the 19th Amendment at 100.” The national observance of Law Day was first proclaimed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on February 3, 1958.
Previous winners of the Liberty Bell Award are: Chief Justice Mark D. Martin, Judge James A. Wynn Jr., Chief Judge Linda McGee, Judge Beth Keever, Judge Sammie Chess Jr., Maj. Gen. (retired) James B. Mallory III, Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson, Judge Earl Britt, Chief Justice Burley Mitchell, Justice Harry C. Martin, U.S. Attorney Janice McKenzie Cole, Stacy C. Eggers Jr., Judge E. Maurice Braswell, Judge Herbert L. Richardson, William Joslin, Chief Justice Henry Frye, Judge Robert R. Browning, Judge Lacy Thornburg, Gov. James B. Hunt Jr., William C. Friday, Judge Sam J. Ervin III, Gov. Terry Sanford, Herbert H. Taylor Jr., Judge James Dickson Phillips Jr., Wade E. Brown, Judge Hiram H. Ward, Kathrine Everett, Rep. L. Richardson Preyer, Justice J. Frank Huskins, McNeill Smith, Judge Franklin T. Dupree Jr., Sec. of State Thad Eure, Chief Justice Joseph Branch, Dr. Robert E. Lee, William B. Aycock, Chief Justice Susie Sharp and Sen. Sam Ervin Jr.