Remembrance: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Headlines NCBA Women in the Profession Event

Suzanne Reynolds interviews Justice Ginsburg.

Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court died Friday, Sept. 18, at the age of 87. Her passing rekindles memories of her participation in “The Changing Face of Justice: A View from the Bench,” presented in 2007 by the North Carolina Bar Association and its Women in the Profession Committee, and reported as follows in North Carolina Lawyer:


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s eagerly anticipated visit to North Carolina proved well worth the wait.

Appearing on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 18-19, as the focal point of the North Carolina Bar Association’s presentation of “The Changing Face of Justice: A View from the Bench,” Justice Ginsburg was stellar from beginning to end.

The event was hosted by the NCBA’s Women in the Profession Committee at the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa in Asheville.

Janet Ward Black with Justice Ginsburg.

Supported by an extraordinary supporting cast of jurists, attorneys and legal scholars, Ginsburg delighted Thursday’s overflow audience of 500-plus for “A Conversation with Justice Ginsburg” and Friday’s sold-out CLE program.

Thursday’s format featured opening remarks from Justice Ginsburg followed by an on-stage interview conducted by Suzanne Reynolds of the Wake Forest University School of Law.

NCBA President Janet Ward Black introduced Reynolds, who then introduced the lone female currently serving on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Questions from the audience brought the conversation to a close, after which dinner and additional presentations followed.

NCBA Board Member Phyllis Pickett.

Phyllis Pickett of the NCBA Board of Governors provided special remarks including an overview of the association’s diversity initiatives, and Judge Christine Walczyk who chairs the Women in the Profession Committee presented the evening’s concluding remarks.

“Justice Ginsburg’s comments,” Walczyk said, “delivered in an intimate, relaxed format, inspired all of the attendees. You could hear a pin drop during most of her conversation, as we collectively leaned in to soak up every word from the quiet and contemplative guest.

“Her brilliance and maturity, her work ethic, and her dedication to the pursuit of equality for both genders impressed even the most accomplished members of the judiciary and the profession.”

The momentum from Thursday’s program clearly carried over into Friday’s proceedings.

S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Toal.

The NCBA Foundation CLE program began at 9 a.m. and continued through lunch, during which Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal of South Carolina stole the show with her acclaimed presentation, “Shoeless Joe Jackson: A Lesson in Professionalism.”

All female chief justices from the highest court in every state were among numerous female jurists invited to attend, including several appearing on the CLE program.

“I was truly honored to be part of such a unique and novel program,” Walczyk added. “It was amazing to hear chief justices from around the nation comment on and compare their judicial processes and systems, and Justice Toal’s Shoeless Joe Jackson remarks were thoroughly entertaining.

“Seeing more than 200 women attorneys pack a CLE program featuring female judges underscores just how far we have come in this profession.”

The opening CLE presentation, Depositions: Strategies for Success, was moderated by Cary attorney Leslie O’Toole. Comprising the panel were Judge Linda Stephens of the N.C. Court of Appeals, Greensboro attorneys Lisa Garrison and Camille Payton and Raleigh attorney Sheila Chavis.

Judge Christine Walczyk and Justice Ginsburg.

Chief Judge Karen J. Williams (S.C.) of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals moderated the Judicial Independence Panel which included Justice Ginsburg. Also participating were NCBA Past-President Rhoda Billings, former Chief Justice of the N.C. Supreme Court, Kansas Chief Justice Kay McFarland and Judge James A. Wynn Jr. of the N.C. Court of Appeals who chairs the ABA’s Judicial Division.

Points, Punishment, and Pardons: Changes in the Criminal Justice System was moderated by Raquel Wilson of the Federal Defenders Office for Western N.C. based in Asheville. Chief Justices Sarah Parker of North Carolina, Mary Mullarkey of Colorado and Betty Dickey of Arkansas (former) comprised the panel.

Two key factors figured prominently into the success of the event: sponsors and turnout. The sponsors denoted below stepped up in such a manner that enabled the NCBA and its Women in the Profession Committee to produce an event that was first-class in every aspect imaginable.

And the turnout, exceeded in recent memory only by the dedication of the N.C. Bar Center and the NCBA Centennial, was especially noteworthy because of the judges who attended from all corners of the state and nation.

“The Changing Face of Justice: A View from the Bench” was completely sold out.

“This historic event would not have been possible without the unfailing efforts of the NCBA’s Women in the Profession Committee as well as the many sponsors who generously supported those efforts,” said Assistant Executive Director Michelle Frazier who coordinated the event on behalf of the NCBA.

“It was truly a memorable occasion for the North Carolina Bar Association and the legal profession as a whole.”

Sponsors included the following firms and organizations:

Platinum Level ($10,000 and up): Lawyers Mutual Liability Insurance Company of North Carolina, the North Carolina Bar Association Foundation, Inc., and Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC.

Gold Level sponsors ($5,000): Hunton & Williams LLP, Kilpatrick Stockton LLP, Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP, Roberts & Stevens, PA, and the South Carolina Women Lawyers Association.

Silver Level sponsors ($2,500): the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys, Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan LLP, Smith Moore LLP, and Ward Black Law.

Bronze Level sponsors ($1,000): Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP, Haas McNeil & Associates, P.A., Harris, Creech, Ward & Blackerby P.A., Howard Stallings From & Hutson PA, the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys, Ward & Smith, PA, and Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton LLP.

Contributor Level sponsors ($500) included the firm of Patterson, Dilthey, Clay & Bryson, L.L.P.