YLD Elects Officers, Presents Awards
The Young Lawyers Division of the North Carolina Bar Association elected new officers and presented awards during the 2016 NCBA Annual Meeting in Asheville. The featured speaker at the YLD Luncheon was NCBA Executive Director Allan Head.
Matt Cordell of Raleigh succeeded Harrison Lord of Charlotte as chair for 2016-17, with Lord moving into the position of immediate past chair. Jason Walters of Winston-Salem was elected chair-elect and Rachel Blunk of Greensboro was elected secretary. Cabell Clay of Charlotte will serve as the YLD Administrative Division Director.
The ABA District 9 Representative will be Brooks Jaffa of Charlotte and the ABA State Bar Representative will be Deyaska Spencer of Columbia, S.C.
YLD also presented its three annual awards.
The Charles F. Blanchard Young Lawyer of the Year Award, which recognizes young lawyers for their distinguished and meritorious service, is named in honor of Charles Blanchard, founding chair of the YLD who served in 1953-55. It was presented to Cabell Clay.
Clay is a partner at Moore and Van Allen. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary School of Law.
“She burst onto the YLD scene when she chaired the Legal Feeding Frenzy, and did such an amazing job that the N.C. Association of Feeding America Food Banks honored her with its Friend of the Association Award,” stated Lord in presenting the award. “She then became the ABA YLD District 9 Representative, representing the YLD and other affiliates throughout North Carolina at the national level.
“Naturally, Cabell excelled there, as well, leading full delegations to every meeting, and taking an active role and leadership positions in the ABA.”
Most recently Clay has been instrumental in the implementation of the YLD’s “How to Practice” Series.
The Robinson O. Everett Professionalism Award was established in 2010 in memory of the former Duke law professor and chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces who died in 2009.
“James Hash is a true professional,” Epstein stated in presenting the award. “He is the clear and deserving recipient of this award as he is following in the path of Judge Everett.
“Judge Everett was a scholar, graduating Harvard at age 19 and Harvard Law magna cum laude three years later. James is a scholar, graduating UNC, getting his master’s in teaching at UNC, and graduating Campbell Law cum laude.”
Hash, he added, has already achieved great things early in his career, as did Everett.
“He also started and chaired Legal LINK from 2012-13,” Epstein said, “a program for 10th graders to increase interest in legal careers among members of populations underrepresented in the legal profession. That same year, Legal LINK won 1st place in the ABA Next Steps Challenge.”
A graduate of the NCBA’s Leadership Academy and recipient of the Wake County Bar Association’s President’s Award, Hash led the WCBA’s Young Lawyers Division in 2015 and serves on the board of directors of the Campbell Law Alumni Association.
Originally from Alleghany County, Hash is a partner with Everett Gaskins Hancock, which carries forward the Everett legacy in honor of Judge Everett and his parents, Reuben and Kathrine R. Everett.
The Younger Lawyer Pro Bono Service Award recognizes a younger lawyer who has made extraordinary contributions by providing exemplary legal services without a fee to persons of limited means or to charitable groups or organizations. It was presented to Rachel Blunk. She is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College and the University of North Carolina School of Law.
Blunk is an active pro bono volunteer with the Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Pittsboro office. Through clinics in conjunction with NCCU School of Law and the Alamance County Bar, she has prepared wills, power of attorneys and health care power of attorneys, and she has provided advice about expungement to people who otherwise would not have access to legal advice and services.
Blunk also has been involved in a number of North Carolina Bar Association pro bono projects, including NC LEAP, Ask-A-Lawyer Day, Wills for Heroes, Project Grace and Wills for Equality.
Blunk has served in multiple leadership roles with the NCBA and the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys. She also has served as a committee chair for the Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties, focusing her work on the League’s anti-bullying initiative. She is treasurer of the Alamance Partnership for Children, a 501(c)(3) organization that works to ensure that young children enter school healthy and ready to succeed.
Blunk is passionate about the rights of women and LGBTQ individuals. She is an active speaker and pro bono volunteer with a variety of LGBTQ- and woman-focused organizations across the state. In addition to her considerable service work with Legal Aid, NCBA and her local bar, Blunk has volunteered numerous hours on behalf of the Campaign for Southern Equality.
Blunk is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College and the University of North Carolina School of Law.