Professionalism Award Presented Posthumously
Allan B. Head, longtime executive director of the North Carolina Bar Association and the North Carolina Bar Foundation, has been honored posthumously as a recipient of the Chief Justice’s Professionalism Award.
Chief Justice Mark Martin of the N.C. Supreme Court presented the award at the NCBA Annual Meeting in Wilmington, where he was joined by Justice Paul Newby, chair, and Lisa Sheppard, executive director, of the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism.
Patti Head accepted the award on behalf of her husband and their family.
Head devoted 43 years of service to the NCBA/NCBF, including 35 years as executive director. He retired on Dec. 31, 2016, and died earlier this year following a courageous battle with cancer.
“One of my most enjoyable duties as chief justice is to recognize outstanding members of the legal profession through the Chief Justice’s Professional Award,” Martin said. “This award honors lawyers who have consistently held themselves to the highest standards of professionalism, displaying competence, integrity and civility in their dealings with other lawyers, judges, clients and the public.
“Today my enjoyment is tempered with sadness at the passing of an old friend to so many of us in this association, but it is my privilege to honor the late Allan Head, his family and his legacy with this prestigious award.”
Head, he added, left a positive and lasting impact on the legal profession in North Carolina.
“His work ethic and sharp mind were critical to the launching of many successful programs,” Martin said. “Under Allan’s leadership as executive director of the NCBA, membership rose to over 80 percent of all admitted lawyers in North Carolina – an amazing achievement. His dedication and innovation have made a significant impact on countless attorneys as well as on our state’s residents in general.
“Allan’s tireless advocacy for greater access to justice through his support of pro bono programs and Legal Aid of North Carolina will be irreplaceable. But now, because of his example, many other attorneys have been inspired to take on these challenges as their own.”
Head learned of the honor shortly before his death.
“He remained on the Commission on Professionalism,” Martin concluded, “even after, because of the medical struggles he was enduring, he had to resign from all other responsibilities. I think that shows us all the preeminent aspect he viewed for how important professionalism was to each and every one of us as members of the legal profession.”
“Thank you so much for this extraordinary award presented to us today in memory of Allan and in Allan’s name,” Patti Head responded. “Our family is grateful for the award, made even sweeter because he got to know ahead of time, before his passing, that he was to receive this award. It meant so much to him and he was so humbled by the recognition of his integrity, his character, his commitment to the legal profession, and he was deeply touched by this.
“He was also deeply touched by being asked to be a part of the commission, because he believed so wholeheartedly in the independent judiciary, the rule of law, the high calling to be a lawyer, the importance of lawyer leadership in the community, and his love for the law.”
His final meeting with and for the legal profession, she added, was a meeting of the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism.
“Allan fought a brave fight against cancer,” his wife concluded. “He was indeed ‘Tiger Tough’ throughout this journey, and he did so continuing to believe that the large C in Christ is bigger than the small c in cancer. Cancer did not beat him; it did ultimately take him, but it did not beat him.
“What a remarkable life Allan had. He was a blessed man – he knew it – and he gave God the glory. He lived his values of the importance of family, faith, servant leadership, and gratitude to be a lawyer and a part of a profession that he considered the greatest.”