|On Wednesday, January 24, at the joint dinner of the N.C. State Bar and the N.C. Bar Association in Raleigh, Chief Justice Mark Martin presented the 2017 Chief Justice’s Professionalism Award to the following recipients for their dedication and commitment to the principles of professionalism and public service in North Carolina.|
- F. Leary Davis Jr. (posthumous) – received by his wife Joy Davis
- Former Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake Jr. – received by his long-time executive assistant, Terry Murray
- U.S. Federal Judge Allyson K. Duncan
- Charlotte attorney Russell M. Robinson II
View a video of the 2017 recipients. Pictured above (left to right): Justice Paul Newby, Joy Davis, Terry Murray, Russell Robinson, Chief Justice Mark Martin. (Judge Duncan was unable to attend.)
The late F. Leary Davis Jr., of Zebulon, is the only recipient to have served as the founding dean of two United States law schools and lead them to ABA approval while dean. He graduated from Wake Forest College and was awarded the Babcock Scholarship at Wake Forest Law, where he graduated with a combined degree and then earned a graduate law degree from Columbia. After starting law practices in Zebulon and Raleigh, Davis was a community civic leader who played a huge role in establishing the Wake County Public Libraries. He was a creative innovator in law practice, legal education, and local government.
In 1975, Campbell College President Norman Wiggins asked Davis to become the founding dean of Campbell’s new law school. He designed and implemented a program of legal education and recruited a faculty that met the needs of law students and the public. Davis was key in improving legal education nationally, and introduced courses in professionalism, practical skills, trial practice, strategic planning, and leadership. In 2005, Davis became the founding dean of Elon Law School. He was active and served on the N.C. Bar Association, N.C. State Bar, Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism (CJCP), and American Bar Association. He was a fellow for the College of Law Practice Management, a Life Fellow of the American Bar Association, and an elected member of the American Bar Institute. He was a member of the Bar Association’s Hall of Fame and received the John J. Parker Award in 2009, and was twice named to the Order of the Long Leaf Pine (North Carolina’s highest award). Just before his passing, Davis and his wife pledged $150,000 to endow the Leary & Joy Davis Leadership Scholarship at Campbell Law School, one of four full-tuition scholarships annually awarded.
The Honorable I. Beverly Lake Jr. is the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. Originally from Wake Forest, Chief Justice Lake attended Mars Hill College and earned his undergraduate degree from Wake Forest College. After serving in the U.S. Army, he graduated from Wake Forest University School of Law in 1960.
His distinguished career spans five decades and an enormous range of public service, including two terms in the N.C. Senate, as Assistant and Deputy Attorney General for the Department of Justice, as Legislative Liaison for Governor Jim Martin, and as a N.C. Superior Court judge. In 1992, Lake became a Supreme Court associate justice, and in 2001, he won election as Chief Justice, where he served until his retirement in 2006. One of the most heralded accomplishments is the founding of North Carolina’s nationally-recognized Actual Innocence Commission (now the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission), the first of its kind in the United States.
Additionally, Chief Justice Lake remained very active in civic and community service, including serving as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Public Utilities and Energy Committee, the State Judicial Council, the CJCP, and the Actual Innocence Commission. He served on the Board of Directors for the National Conference of Chief Justices, and on the Board of Visitors at Wake Forest University School of Law and the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Chief Justice Lake’s commitment to public service has been recognized with many awards and honors through the years, including an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree from Campbell University, the Herbert Harley Award with the American Judicature Society, the Charles R. Jonas Award for Outstanding Service by an Elected Official, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Wake Forest, and as Distinguished Eagle Scout.
The Honorable Allyson K. Duncan was born in Durham and graduated first in her class from Hampton University in 1972 and attended Duke University School of Law as an Earl Warren Scholar, graduating in 1975. Following graduation, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Julia Cooper Mack of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and then remained in Washington at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In 1986, Judge Duncan returned to North Carolina as an associate professor of law at N.C. Central University. She sat as an associate judge on the N.C. Court of Appeals in 1990 before being appointed to the N.C. Utilities Commission in 1991. Later, she went into private practice with Kilpatrick Stockton in Raleigh, specializing in telecommunications actions and energy law; and in 2003, she became the first African-American and third female president of the N.C. Bar Association.
Judge Duncan was sworn into office as a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 2003, after being nominated by President George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. She is the first African-American and the first female North Carolinian to sit on the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Judge Duncan was appointed by Chief Justice John Roberts to the International Judicial Relations Committee. She also serves as president of the Federal Judges Association, as a member of the International Association of Judges, and on the Board of Trustees of Duke University. She has received numerous legal honors and awards for her community involvement.
Russell M. Robinson II is a founding partner of the North Carolina firm, Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson of Charlotte, one of the state’s largest law firms which represents many of Charlotte’s major corporations. He attended Princeton University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa, and graduated from Duke University with his law degree, Order of the Coif, in 1956. As founding partner of Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson, his practice concentrated on corporate and commercial law, securities, and charitable foundations and other nonprofit organizations. His book, "Robinson on North Carolina Corporation Law," is considered the leading treatise and resource on North Carolina corporate law.
Robinson has served the legal profession in a variety of volunteer positions, including chair of the Business Corporation Act Drafting Committee of the N.C. General Statute Commission, chair of the Committee on Civil Justice of the Commission for the Future of Justice and the Courts in North Carolina, president of the Mecklenburg County Bar, member of the Board of Governors and the Executive Committee of the N.C. Bar Association, and Director of Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont. He is a member of the American Law Institute, a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, serves on boards with Duke University Law School, the Duke Endowment, the UNC Charlotte Foundation, the United Way of Central Carolinas, Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, and several other civic and nonprofit organizations in the Charlotte area. Robinson has been awarded the N.C. Bar Association’s John J. Parker Award for Conspicuous Service to the Cause of Jurisprudence, the Duke Law School’s Charles S. Rhyne Award for Significant Contribution to Public Service, the Mecklenburg Bar Foundation’s Ayscue Professionalism Award, an honorary Doctor of Public Service from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and with his wife, Sally, the John Tyler Caldwell Award for the Humanities.
Established in September 1998 by order of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, the primary charge of the Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism (CJCP) is to enhance professionalism among North Carolina judges, lawyers and law students. In carrying out this charge, the CJCP is responsible for providing ongoing attention and assistance through a variety of programs, projects and publications, in order to ensure that the practice of law remains a high calling, dedicated to the service of clients and the public good.