We are thrilled to announce that Allen C. Smith, from Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo LLP, has been awarded the annual DRI Kevin Driskill Outstanding State Representative Award. This award is a testament to his contributions to the civil defense community, and we couldn't be more proud of his achievements.
Each year, DRI, a leading organization for attorneys in the defense bar, recognizes exceptional individuals for their professional achievements and volunteer work. The DRI Kevin Driskill Outstanding State Representative Award is given to those who have made significant contributions as state representatives and have demonstrated outstanding dedication to their roles.
Allen served as president from 2020-2021 and now serves as the state representative for the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys (NCADA) to DRI. He has actively supported and perpetuated the mission of both organizations, which is to enhance the skills, effectiveness, and professionalism of defense lawyers.
This award is a well-deserved recognition of Allen's leadership and commitment to the legal profession. Join us in extending our warmest congratulations to Allen for being honored with the DRI Kevin Driskill Outstanding State Representative Award.
Congratulations to Todd Brown on being sworn in as the newly installed president of the North Carolina State Bar! Chief Justice Paul Newby administered the oath during the State Bar's Annual Dinner on October 26, 2023.
Brown brings a wealth of experience and dedication to this new role. He holds a bachelor's degree and a JD from the University of South Carolina. Since 2013, he has been an active member of the North Carolina State Bar Council, serving as the chair of the Administrative Committee and as vice-chair and chair of the Grievance Committee.
In addition to his work with the NC State Bar, Brown previously served as the president of the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys (2016-2017) and the Mecklenburg County Bar. He was also involved in the Committee on Diversity for the Mecklenburg County Bar.
As a partner at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, Brown is the managing partner of the Charlotte office and co-head of the firm's commercial litigation practice group. He also holds several leadership positions within the firm, including co-chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the Talent Development Committee, member of the Associates Committee and Screening Committee, and former member of the Executive Committee.
We congratulate Todd Brown on this well-deserved recognition and wish him success in his role as president of the North Carolina State Bar.
NCADA is pleased to recognize the recipients for the J. Robert Elster Award for Professional Excellence and the Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy for 2023. Mel J. Garofalo, Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo, and Patricia L. Holland, Attorney & Mediator, were recognized with the J. Robert Elster Award for Professional Excellence. Dan Hartzog, Hartzog Law Group was presented the Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy. These Awards were presented at the NCADA 46th Annual Meeting on Friday, June 9, 2023 in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
The J. Robert Award for Professional Excellence recognizes a member's contributions to the organized Bar as a whole and to their community, and who exemplify the highest standards of professionalism, integrity, and ethics.
Mel J. Garofalo, recipient of the J. Robert Elster Award for Professional Excellence, is a partner with Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo, LLP in the firm’s Charlotte office. Mel served as Hedrick Gardner’s managing partner from 1993 until 2015. Through his years of practice, Mel has handled a wide variety of complex civil litigation, including large, multi-party product liability actions, complex fire and explosion cases, drug and medical device litigation, premises liability and security litigation, liquor liability litigation as well as wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury litigation. Mel served as President of the NCADA from 2005-2006.
Patricia “Trish” Holland, recipient of the J. Robert Elster Award for Professional Excellence, devotes her professional career to alternative dispute resolution, serving as a mediator in legal disputes brought in state and federal courts throughout North Carolina. Trish is a former member of the NCADA and served as a member of the Board of Directors from 2000-2003.
The Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy honors highly skilled members who excel in advocating for clients in state and federal courtrooms. These individuals are regarded as among the finest trial lawyers in the state. Their exceptional track record of consistently achieving favorable outcomes for their clients demonstrates their mastery of the essential skills required for success.
Dan Hartzog, recipient of the Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy, is Of Counsel at Hartzog Law Group. Dan is a seasoned trial attorney with more than 40 years of litigation experience in North Carolina. He has honed his litigation skills by handling a broad range of civil litigation cases having tried over a hundred jury trials to conclusion with an exceptionally high number of defense verdicts. In recent years, Dan has handled several highly publicized cases in both federal and state courts.
Please join us in congratulating Mel, Trish, and Dan as we recognize them as leaders in the NCADA and the civil trial bar.
Learn more about each award and see past recipients via the links above.
We want to take a moment to express our heartfelt gratitude to Jennifer Edwards, who has made invaluable contributions to our organization over the past few years. Jennifer joined the NCADA staff in April 2018 and has played a vital role in the ongoing success of NCADA in supporting both the organization itself and you, our valued members.
Now, as Jennifer embarks on a new chapter in her professional journey, we bid her a fond farewell. Her decision to explore other opportunities is a testament to her drive and ambition.
Throughout her tenure with us, Jennifer has undertaken various responsibilities that have greatly impacted our Association. She has coordinated our meetings and events, including our annual and fall seminars, as well as member social events held across the state. Even during the challenging period of lockdown, she played a pivotal role in organizing online events that kept our members connected.
Jennifer has been the voice of our Weekly Update email, a project that initially emerged during the pandemic as a means to foster connectivity and share pertinent news related to our practices. Today, it remains an essential channel for communication. Additionally, she has coordinated the production of expert webinars that have provided immense value to you, our members, as well as our litigation support services partners.
These acknowledgments merely scratch the surface of the hard work, dedication, and behind-the-scenes support Jennifer has offered to NCADA during her five-year tenure. Let us come together to express our heartfelt appreciation to Jennifer for her exceptional contributions to NCADA. Please join us in extending your well wishes for her continued success in all her future endeavors.
The North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys (NCADA) held its 46th Annual Meeting the weekend of June 8-11, 2023. New officers and directors assumed new roles within the organization at the close of the meeting.
Christopher R. Kiger was confirmed as the 46th President of the Association. Chris is a partner with Smith Anderson, LLP in Raleigh. His trial practice focuses on products liability, mass tort, and commercial litigation. He has significant experience representing manufacturers, insurers, and other corporate clients in both state and federal courts, as well as in multi-district litigation. He has successfully handled the defense of litigation involving a broad array of automotive, industrial, consumer, and medical products. Chris is a graduate of Elon College and received his J.D. from the University of NC in 2002. He was inducted into the Elon College Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998
JD Keister was installed as President-elect. Keister’s civil and complex litigation practice is based in the Raleigh office of McAngus Goudelock & Courie, LLP. He routinely engages in the representation of parties in construction, professional liability, bad faith, real estate litigation, catastrophic loss, commercial litigation and first party defense for insurance carriers. He obtained his juris doctorate from Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law.
As Executive Vice President, Keister served as program chair of this year’s annual meeting seminar and was instrumental in securing engaging and informative content and speakers for the two-day CLE program. A diverse group of speakers and panelists discussing varying aspects of how the practice and law firms are changing post-pandemic and with four generations now in the work force. Programming also included a mock argument before a live and diverse focus group demonstrating juror perspectives during these changing times.
Ashley K. Brathwaite is Immediate Past President. Brathwaite practices with Ellis & Winters, LLP. Her practice is divided between the representation of health care providers, product manufacturers and distributors, and others facing allegations of liability for a catastrophic personal injury. She obtained her J.D. from Campbell University School of Law in 2005. Brathwaite has served on the Board since 2015 in Director and Officer positions. Brathwaite was presented the “DRI Exceptional Performance Award” and the NCADA recognized her for her year of service during the conference.
George Simpson, IV was elected to the office of Executive Vice President. Simpson is the founding member of Simpson Law, PLLC located in Raleigh. After graduating with honors from UNC as a double major, George attended UNC Law School. His practice focuses on insurance disputes and defense, business disputes, regulatory compliance matters, and subrogation claims.
Erin McNeil Young moves to the position of Secretary after serving a one-year term as Treasurer. Erin is a past member of the Board of Directors. Young is an experienced litigator with 23 years of experience in private practice and is now managing litigation for a large corporation for Extended Stay Americas. Young received her J.D. from UNC School of law in 1999.
Daniel M. Nunn was elected to a 2-year term as Treasurer. Nunn is a partner with Caudle & Spears, P.A. in Charlotte and was elected Treasurer after serving a three-year term on the Board of Directors. Nunn represents clients primarily in construction defect litigation, insurance defense litigation, complex civil litigation, business law, and employment law. He obtained his J.D. from University of Miami School of Law.
The NCADA welcomed the following NEW members to the Board of Directors to serve a 3-year term ending in 2026:
ABOUT the NCADA: North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys (NCADA) is a professional organization of over 800 attorneys and paralegals who devote a majority of their time representing the interests of business and individuals in civil litigation. For more information about the N.C. Association of Defense Attorneys, please contact (919) 239-4463 or visit www.ncada.org.
We are pleased to announce our 1st Annual Virtual Food Drive as part of our 2023 Annual Meeting! Our goal is to raise $5000 this week benefiting the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, and we need your help to make it happen.
We believe that every donation, no matter how small, can make a significant impact on families and individuals who are struggling to access nutritious meals. By participating in our Virtual Food Drive, we can come together as a team to help alleviate hunger and create positive change in our community.
Not only does contributing to the Virtual Food Drive support a great cause, but it also provides a sense of fulfillment, purpose, and connection to something greater than ourselves. This is an opportunity for NCADA and our members to share our commitment to social responsibility and caring for those in need.
Join us this week in donating and help us showcase our dedication to making a positive impact. Let's inspire others to follow our lead and join us in making a difference today!
Remember, every dollar counts, so please donate now and let's make a difference together. Thank you for your support in the fight against food insecurity in North Carolina!
MEET: Danielle Barbour Wilson
Danielle Wilson is a principal with The Banks Law Firm, the largest minority-owned law firms in North Carolina, with a practice focus in Employment Law. A 2009 graduate of Emory University School of Law, she has been a member of NCADA since 2012 and is a past member of the Board of Directors.
What drew you to the practice of law and to a litigation and trial practice? My college scholarship was for public speaking, so I was naturally drawn to trial practice. I was also a huge CourtTV junkie (my dad got me an old school satellite radio for my car so I could listen to it while driving!)—I really felt I had no choice but to become a lawyer.
How has membership in NCADA benefited your professional life?NCADA has connected me with not just only good lawyers, but great people. I take comfort in knowing that I am connected with a great group of folks who are always eager to serve as a resource to me in the practice.
What would you do if you were not a lawyer?
Probably something on the business side of the entertainment industry.
What is your favorite legal movie or TV show and why?Philadelphia hands down. Joe Miller (Denzel Washington) reluctantly took on an employment discrimination case for Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) and brought forth justice when no one else would take the case. The movie has always resonated with me, but it’s even more compelling now that I am an employment lawyer.
What excites you the most right now?
These days, I’m most excited by getting hugs and kisses from my rambunctious 19-month old who is a total daddy’s girl!
What is one piece of professional or life advice you would tell your younger self?
No matter what you’re doing, you should find enjoyment in the process—not just the outcome. If you aren’t enjoying what you’re doing, then do something else.
Say hello to Danielle and connect today!
NCADA collected more than 100 children's books at the 2022 Fall Seminar as a public service project. The books were donated to the Albemarle Regional Library System (ARLNC) for use among its seven libraries in Bertie, Gates, Hertford, and Northampton Counties in northeastern North Carolina.
The ARLNC serves a population of less than 75,000 people in the combined counties. Working with ARLNC Director Hugh Davis, we were able to share children's books among the libraries operating in the system.
We will partner with ARLNC again this year collecting children's books and donations in advance and day of the 2023 Fall Seminar on Friday, October 6, 2023 in Greensboro. Save the Date and start collecting!
Recognize a colleague, mentor or peer you hold in high esteem for the J. Robert Elster Award for Professional Excellence and the Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy this year.
Present and past members of the NC Association of Defense Attorneys are eligible for consideration as a possible recipient for one of these awards. Recipients will be recognized during the 2023 Annual Meeting during the weekend of June 8-11.
Deadline for submission is Monday, March 27, 2023. Your letter of nomination should be addressed to Brian Beverly, Chair, Awards Committee, c/o Lynette Pitt, Executive Director, NCADA, by email.
Learn more about the J. Robert Elster Award for Professional Excellence and the Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy and nominate someone you hold in high esteem.
A list of Past Recipients may be found here.
Nominations Accepted for NCADA Board of Directors & Practice Group Leadership
The terms of five current members of the NCADA Board of Directors will expire in June 2023. Nominations for the five vacant Director positions are now being accepted to serve a three year term beginning at the close of the 2023 Annual Meeting through the close of the 2026 Annual Meeting.
Director responsibilities include:
To qualify for a position on the NCADA Board of Directors, the nominee should
Leadership opportunities in the NCADA’s Practice Groups are open for nominations. Members interested in the continued growth and relevance of the NCADA through its practice groups will be considered for leadership positions in the following areas of practice: Construction, Commercial, Employment, General Liability, Government, Medical Malpractice, Product Liability and Workers’ Compensation.
The following information should be included in the nomination:
1) Member Name, Firm, contact information and a brief biographical sketch;
2) Brief statement by the nominee of his or her availability and commitment to actively serve as a member of the Board, or as a practice group leader;
3) Brief statement why nominee would like to serve as a member of the Board of Directors, or as a practice group leader.
Persons interested in submitting a nomination may E mail the Nominating Committee in care of Lynette Pitt, Executive Director (E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Nominations must be received no later than Monday, March 13, 2023, 5 p.m.
North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys
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