• 22 Dec 2022 10:35 AM | Deleted user

    Editor’s Note: We are all saddened by the circumstances and tragic loss earlier this week of attorney Patrick White at the law firm of Riddle & Brantley in Goldsboro. We are in communication with other Bar groups about efforts to provide support and resources. This tragedy impacts us individually and as a profession.  Please take advantage of resources available to you through the NC Lawyers Assistance Program and BarCares if you need to talk confidentially to someone.  

    Life and work have resumed -- our new normal after the pandemic. In our various practices, the civil courts are working on the backlogs of cases that had been put on hold. We were also busy at the NCADA getting back to face-to-face meetings and working on new opportunities for members.

    Looking back at the last few months, we had a successful Annual Meeting in June for the first time in Wilmington, North Carolina. An outstanding CLE program was put together by program chair Chris Kiger, and our biennial Judicial Candidates’ Forum was chaired by Allen Smith. The opportunity to connect with old friends, meet new ones, and hear directly from our judiciary were highlights of the meeting.

    We adapted and pivoted again for our annual Fall Seminar in late September as the remnants of Hurricane Ian disrupted travel plans. A hale and hearty group of speakers, members and guests, and litigation support partners made it in-person and we were able to live-stream the event to close to 80 additional attendees online. Another new location for us at the Winston-Salem Convention Center helped make this a successful day.

    In addition to the popular expert webinars hosted by our litigation support partners, we had excellent attendance at our paralegal seminar on Thursday, December 8th. Our NCADA member paralegals and other attendees made it highly interactive and insightful by sharing comments and questions during the presentations. We heard from Kellie Myers about NC Judicial Branch’s eCourts initiative. Thank you to all the speakers and to our planners Shelli Simontacchi, Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe Garofalo, and Nathan Hewitt, Hamlet Law. We are planning additional professional development opportunities specific to paralegals in 2023 based on the feedback from this session. 

    We are looking forward to more great events and activities for the NCADA in 2023.  As you plan your professional development goals for 2023, consider enrolling in the NCADA's new Business of Law pilot program. This is a fully virtual education program, which is based on the fundamentals of a mini-MBA curriculum, that will help you learn, understand, and immediately apply practical management skills and financial knowledge. Of course, this program and others for 2023 are available on the NCADA website. Take a look, mark your schedule, and plan to join us!

    We appreciate your ongoing support and participation in the NCADA. Please let us know how we can continue to value your practice and career development goals. And follow us on LinkedIn for more NCADA updates!

  • 02 Sep 2022 5:00 PM | Lynette Pitt (Administrator)

    The Administrative Office of the Courts announces that eFiling is coming to North Carolina Courts! Training sessions will be offered both virtually and in person for File and Serve in September. Attorneys, paralegals, and legal staff may register now for virtual or in-person sessions.

    As part of the North Carolina Judicial Branch’s transformative eCourts initiative to take the state court system from paper to digital, the Odyssey Integrated Case Management System (ICMS) is projected to launch on October 10, 2022, in the four pilot counties of Harnett, Johnston, Lee, and Wake.

    Throughout the month of September, NCAOC will offer in-person and virtual training sessions for attorneys, paralegals, and legal staff. For more information on the eCourts initiative and training opportunities, visit

  • 18 Aug 2022 5:13 PM | Lynette Pitt (Administrator)

    The N.C. Defense Fund, the political action committee of the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys, endorses the following candidates seeking seats on the North Carolina Supreme Court and Court of Appeals:

    For Associate Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, the N.C. Defense Fund endorses

    For Judge of the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the N.C. Defense Fund endorses:

    • For Seat 8:  No Endorsement.
    • For Seat 9:  Donna Stroud for re-election to the Court.
    • For Seat 10: John M. Tyson for re-election to the Court.
    • For Seat 11: Darren Jackson for election to the Court.

    The NC Defense Fund made the decision to endorse each judicial candidate based on the following criteria:

    • Substantial legal experience in and demonstrated understanding of civil litigation and issues recurrent in defense of claims;
    • A willingness to impartially apply the statutory law and rules as written and the common law, including the application of affirmative defenses, and the granting of dispositive motions when warranted;
    • A recognition of the legislature's exclusive role to enact statutes and the Court’s role in interpreting existing common law and statutes in a fair, consistent and predictable manner with respect for prior court rulings as compelled by stare decisis;
    • Exemplifying a high level of independence and integrity in applying the law impartially and in compliance with judicial standards and the Rules of Professional Conduct.

    The N.C. Defense Fund is the political action committee of the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys. The North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys [NCADA] is a professional association for lawyers and paralegals defending the interests of individuals and businesses in civil litigation. Current membership stands at over 850 attorneys and paralegals from across the State.

    For more information about the N.C. Association of Defense Attorneys, please contact the Association office at 919-239-4463.

    Print New Release

  • 20 Jun 2022 2:18 PM | Lynette Pitt (Administrator)

    New Officers and Board of Directors for the 2022-2023 year were installed on Saturday morning, June 18, at the 45th Annual Meeting in Wilmington, North Carolina.  

    Ashley K. Brathwaite, Ellis & Winters, assumes the office of President.  Ashley moves into this role after serving as an officer for four years, and previously as a member of the Board of Directors.  

    Sara R. Lincoln, Lincoln Derr, is immediate past president.  Sara will continue as a member of the Association's executive committee. Sara is this year's recipient of the Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy. 

    Christopher Kiger, Smith Anderson, becomes President-elect after serving as Executive Vice President.  As Executive Vice President, Chris served as program chair of this year's stellar Annual Meeting programming.

    J. D. Keister, McAngus Goudelock & Courie, was elected to the position of Executive Vice President which leads to the role of President.  J.D. previously served as Treasurer.

    Erin Young, Hall Booth Smith PC, takes over the role of Treasurer.  Erin is a past member of the Board of Directors. 

    George Simpson, IV, will serve another year as Secretary.

    Joining the Board as Directors serving 3-years terms through 2025 are:

    Denaa Griffin, Jackson Lewis
    Scottie Lee, Ellis & Winters, LLP
    Charles McGee, Roberts & Stevens, P.A.
    Jasmine Pitt, Akerman
    Austin Walsh, Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo, LLP

    Join us in welcoming these new leaders!

  • 20 Jun 2022 1:36 PM | Lynette Pitt (Administrator)

    NCADA is pleased to announce the recipients for the J. Robert Elster Award for Professional Excellence and the Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy for 2022.  J. Nicholas Ellis, Poyner & Spruill, was recognized with the J. Robert Elster Award for Professional Excellence. Sara Lincoln, Lincoln Derr, was presented the Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy.  These Awards were presented at the NCADA 45th Annual Meeting on Friday, June 17, 2022 in Wilmington, North 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. 

    The Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy recognizes members who are eminently qualified to advocate for clients in state and federal courtrooms. They are considered by the NCADA as among the finest trial lawyers in the state. Not only have they consistently obtained favorable results for their clients, they have done so while exhibiting a command of the skills necessary to obtain such results.

    Please join us in congratulating Sara Lincoln and Nick Ellis as we recognize both as leaders in the NCADA and the civil trial bar.

    Learn more about each award and see past recipients via the links above.

  • 10 Jun 2022 12:20 PM | Lynette Pitt (Administrator)

    The North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys (“NCADA”) will hold a Judicial Candidates' Forum on Friday, June 17, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Forum will feature judicial candidates running in statewide elections for seats on the North Carolina Supreme Court and the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The appellate races are statewide races that impact all citizens of North Carolina.

    Twelve candidates seek election for six open appellate level judicial seats - four candidates for North Carolina Supreme Court and eight candidates for North Carolina Court of Appeals. Information about each candidate may be found on the NCADA’s website at the Judicial Candidates’ Forum page.  Additionally, a Special Candidates Issue of The Resource is available for download.

    The Forum will be held at the Wilmington Convention Center, Wilmington, North Carolina in conjunction with NCADA’s 45th Annual Meeting.  Approximately 200 attendees are expected.

    The Forum gives members of the public and the bar a rare opportunity to learn about the candidates who wish to serve the state at the appellate court level. Each candidate will have the opportunity to answer a question germane to the members of the civil defense trial bar and to briefly discuss his or her qualifications for the position.

    The NCADA brings together civil trial attorneys to promote the exchange of information, ideas, and litigation techniques, and to strengthen the practice, improve the skills, and enhance the knowledge of lawyers defending individuals and businesses in North Carolina. For more information about the NCADA or the Judicial Candidates' Forum, please contact the Association office at 919-239-4463 or


  • 27 Apr 2022 11:21 AM | Lynette Pitt (Administrator)

    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 2021 virtual Annual Meeting on June 17, 2022. 

    Deadline for submission is extended to Thursday, May 19, 2022. Your letter of nomination should be addressed to Leslie Packer, 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.

    A list of Past Recipients may be found here.

  • 24 Mar 2022 10:51 AM | Deleted user

    Tracey Jones

    When I started with Teague Campbell in July of 1999, Bruce Hamilton was a partner at the Firm. For anyone that doesn't know Bruce, he is one of the most thoughtful, caring, and intelligent men I know. Furthermore, he is a legal scholar in the world of workers’ compensation and most folks practicing in this area come to him with difficult questions about difficult cases. When I started at the Firm, he was always willing to take the time to talk over cases with me and helped me become the workers’ compensation practitioner I am today. Bruce is known throughout the State as one of the premier workers’ compensation lawyers and I strive to emulate him. Not only do I want to be known as a legal scholar like he is in our practice area, but I want to be the type of person he is. Like him, I want to be respected not only for my legal knowledge but for being a good person with a kind heart. I could not have asked for a better mentor in my 25 years at Teague Campbell.

    Clark Smith, Past President NCADA

    As I write this column, we are in the season of epiphany awaiting the arrival of the three wise men. At the same time, I have been reading about and thinking about lawyer mentoring programs, one of which is sponsored by our Young Lawyers Division. It occurs to me that all of us need wise men (and wise women) who serve as role models for us in our lives and especially in our professional lives. We can learn many things from college and law school that, but so many of the principles and characteristics that become so important in molding who we are, are not the result of academia, but are in fact the consequences of being fortunate enough to have had good role models at the appropriate stages of our lives when impressions are made.

    As I further reflect on the importance of mentors or role models, it is abundantly clear that I have had the benefit of “three wise men” in my life who have definitely influenced me considerably. They are my father, David C. Smith (not a lawyer, but a physician), Dean Carroll Weathers (Wake Forest Law School), and Walter F. Brinkley (my senior law partner, my uncle, my friend, and my mentor).

    My father, who at 88 years of age is still very sharp mentally, lives in a retirement home. For 45 years, he practiced general medicine as a sole practitioner in Lexington. He was of a vintage when he had only one nurse, and the two of them together ran his office. He made house calls every night and made rounds to the local hospital every morning and every night. I often accompanied him to the hospital and on house calls, sitting in the car while he saw his patients.

    This was my first lesson in learning patience, no pun intended. My father worked hard and long hours. He taught me dedication to his practice, his profession, and especially to his patients. He taught me about sacrifice. There were many times, when he had to forgo attending special functions and family events because of sick patients who needed him. He seldom took vacations and did not surround himself with luxuries. He was conservative, frugal, humble and unassuming. He could communicate with any patient on their level be they farmer, mill worker, engineer, school teacher, lawyer, clergy, or other professional. He also treated all of his patients with dignity and respect.

    By observing his demeanor, I learned to value these various characteristics as worthy and desirable.

    My father was a very calm person even in the presence of trauma or crisis. He moved slowly, he was thoughtful, he was decisive, and yet his demeanor brought a calming influence on those around him.

    My father instilled in me the importance of service. First was service to his country. He had served in the United States Army during World War II at a time which interrupted his medical training. He had no regrets about this interruption in his life and his service to his country. He also taught me the value of public service. He was a member of a local planning board for a number of years, he was a member and President of his Rotary Club, he was a founder of Hospice in our area, and he was active in any number of other civic and public service organizations. He also taught me commitment by demonstrating his commitment to his profession, his family, his church and his God.

    My father taught me the value of having interests outside of his profession. He had a wonderful workshop and was a good woodworker and craftsman. When I was a young boy, he decided to build a boat. For well over a year, I would assist him in our basement workshop in building a boat which when completed was 12 feet long, seated 8 people, was coated with fiberglass, and which served our family for many, many years. I learned the value of planning and patience and attention to intricate detail in watching and assisting my father working on this project. I also learned that a hobby is a great outlet and source of relief from the stress of professional life.

    Finally, my father taught me about building trust and giving another person the opportunity to prove themselves. I especially remember his guidance after I first started driving.

    He would never tell me that I could not go somewhere or do something, but he would always reason with me why my desires were not always good ideas. After discussing the risk and the benefits, he would leave the decisions to me.

    Somehow his persuasiveness always made me choose his decision over my own. He would give me opportunities to build trust, and if I did not let him down, he would give me additional opportunities. He motivated by positive means rather than negative. He has always been my friend, and I go to him whenever I need advice or comfort, and he has never disappointed me.

    My father has taught me many things about life and how to approach it. He has had a great influence on my own life and the person I have become. I am indebted to him for his being such a wonderful role model for life in general.

    Dean Carroll Weathers is well-known to many of the more senior lawyers in this state. He was dean of Wake Forest Law School for a number of years. I had the good fortune of getting to know Dean Weathers through his daughters (Jane Weathers of the North Carolina Bar Association and Katherine Weathers Peetree of Winston-Salem) while I was an undergraduate at Wake Forest University. I had the opportunity to visit in his home and to get to know him before I attended law school. By the time I enrolled at Wake Forest Law School he had retired as dean, but was still active on the faculty and taught several courses, including ethics. Dean Weathers was always a perfect gentleman. He had the utmost respect for everyone he encountered. He treated everyone as if they were the most important person he had ever met.

    Dean Weathers was a very civil man. He impressed me with his etiquette and sophistication while at the same time being very approachable and down to earth. He was highly intelligent. He was well-versed in many areas of the law, but also well-read and knowledgeable about any number of topics outside the law. The scope and range of his knowledge and discussions always amazed me.

    He was truly a renaissance man in that he could talk about law, religion, politics, athletics, world events, history, art or almost any other topic, and he would be knowledgeable and up-to-date in his discussions. He commanded respect by the way he treated the people around him. I remember vividly one occasion in which I was visiting in his home when the subject of a popular bumper sticker arose. The bumper sticker had profanity on it, and Dean Weathers lamented the fact that Wake Forest students and alumni would even consider placing such an inappropriate bumper sticker on their car.

    I was mortified because I had the exact bumper sticker on my car! I was very careful as I backed out of his driveway that evening to keep him from seeing the bumper sticker on my back bumper which I knew would have disappointed him greatly. As soon as I got out of his sight, I removed the bumper sticker in deference to his strong opinions about it.

    Dean Weathers was genuinely interested in the people he encountered and valued the worth of each individual. I was continually amazed at his ability to recall the names and information about people he had known. Many, many lawyers went through Wake Forest Law School while he was dean, but I watched him at many football games when past students would come up and speak to him. He could recall each student’s name and could usually tell the name of their spouse, the name of the group they practiced with, and the town in which they practiced. He could do this for literally hundreds of students, and it was effortless on his part.

    Perhaps the most impressive thing about Dean Weathers was his sense of integrity. He was the closest to perfection of any human I have met. He would not ever deviate from the highest principals and expectations. If there was ever any doubt of any action with respect to ethics or morality, Dean Weathers would advise against it. Those of us who had the privilege of being under his tutelage have coined the word “Weatherized.” We often acknowledge that the standard to uphold is to ask in any question of ethics: “What would Dean Weathers do?” If we followed this advice, we knew we would reach the correct decision, and we had been “Weatherized.”

    Dean Weathers taught me an utmost respect for people, for the law, and for ethics, and I still to this day think of him whenever I have a question regarding professional responsibility. I have never been misguided by following his advice and example.

    The third wise man who has greatly influenced my life is Walt Brinkley, the senior partner in my law firm. Walt is also my uncle. As a small child, I learned about generosity from Walt. He was a wonderful tennis player. After using a can of tennis balls for one match, instead of discarding them, he would save them and give them to me so that I could use them for practice.

    Walt impressed upon me early in my career as a young lawyer the importance of dealing fairly and ethically with all lawyers and judges. He advised that in a small town practice such as we were in, that we would constantly be working with other lawyers for the rest of our careers.

    He pointed out that it was shortsighted to take advantage of another lawyer in a single case when I would be dealing with them again and again in the future. Walt always had the utmost respect for Judges. Even if their rulings were against us, he never complained and never said anything negative about any judge or a ruling any judge had made. He viewed the judge as the embodiment of justice, and they are never to be criticized or treated except with utmost respect.

    Walt has always served as an example of integrity and dedication to highest ethical standards. There have been many times when an ethical dilemma arose where we would discuss among the members of our firm the correct action to take. While there could often be differing opinions, Walt always took the high road and always insisted on the highest adherence to ethics and professional responsibility. He has turned down many lucrative cases because of potential or perceived conflicts of interest. In any situation, Walt will always advocate for doing what is right rather than what is lucrative or expedient.

    Walt taught me that in dealing with others, candor, respect and truthfulness work better than an adversarial demeanor. I have observed Walt and other lawyers in many instances. Walt has always conducted himself admirably and with restraint. I have observed the adversarial attorneys in dealing with him, and they are disarmed because he will not allow their tactics to change the respectful way in which he treats them.

    Walt has always been well-prepared in any situation. He worked hard and would always have notes and outlines of what he was going to do or say. When he spoke, he seldom had to refer to his notes, but he had prepared them and written them prior to speaking, and had them committed to memory.

    Walt treated all people with dignity. He had clients who were wealthy and powerful, and he had clients who were penniless and pitiful. He treated all of them alike. He took on many clients because their causes were worthy when he knew he would never receive any compensation for his services, but that did not deter him in any way from being just as aggressive in working on their behalf as for the wealthiest clients.

    Walt also treats office staff and courthouse personnel with utmost dignity and respect. He is the first person in our office to learn the names of new staff and to talk to them about themselves and their family. He brings gifts to them when he travels. He remembers the names of their spouses and children, and is genuinely interested in who they are. Many times in our partnership meetings, he has reminded us that members of our staff are the most important persons in our office, and that they should be treated fairly and with respect.

    Walt has impressed upon me the importance of service. He has by his own example, taught me about service to the public and service to the profession. He has participated in and led virtually every major service organization in Lexington. He has long been active in our bar association and served as president of the NCBA in 1974-75. He has served on the Board of Law Examiners, the board of Legal Services of North Carolina and many other professional associations. He has instilled in me the idea that being a lawyer is a privilege and that privilege carries with it an obligation to serve the profession and an obligation to lead when called upon. It is Walt’s example, especially in service to the North Carolina Bar Association which resulted in my getting involved in bar association activities immediately upon graduation from law school. It is his constant encouragement and interest that has kept me involved through the years and that led to the opportunity of my serving as president.

    Walt has demonstrated extreme loyalty. I have seen him stand by the side of clients who have been abandoned by others in the community. I have seen Walt remain loyal to lawyers who have transgressed and who have been ostracized by other members of the bar. I have seen Walt remain loyal to persons in this community who have taken unpopular positions on issues. I have had Walt remain loyal to me in situations where I have made mistakes or used poor judgment.

    Walt is able to overlook the shortcomings of others and maintain commitment to them and remain loyal to them regardless of their personal failures or shortcomings.

    Walt Brinkley has been a shining example of an excellent litigator and bar leader to many. I have been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work beside him on a day-to-day basis and observe him in virtually every circumstance of law practice. By his example, I have learned to recognize the characteristics of greatness. I hope that having been subjected to this, a small portion has rubbed off on and has been retained by me.

    Three wise men: David Smith, Dean Carroll Weathers, Walt Brinkley. Each of them has had a profound influence on my life, my father since my infancy, Dean Weathers during the formative years of college and law school and beyond, and Walt Brinkley throughout the years of my professional career.

    I dare say that these three men collectively have had much more influence on my life than all of the years of education and study. A person is able to pick his schools, especially his college and law schools, but it is largely serendipity that determines who our life’s mentors will be. One thing is extremely certain in my mind. Appropriate mentors are pivotal in instilling skills, personality attributes, demeanor and integrity.

    I would encourage every lawyer, especially those that are just beginning their professional careers, to seek out a mentor whom they can observe and learn from. By doing so, you will become a better citizen, a better lawyer and a better person. If you do not have someone you can ask to serve as your mentor, please contact staff at the NCBA, and they will be happy to assist with placing you under a mentorship through the YLD program.

    If you are an older lawyer, please consider becoming a mentor to a younger lawyer. The rewards can be great as you realize what a difference you can make in guiding a young lawyer along his or her career path.

    My epiphany is that we tend to mirror those people who surround us. Let us be sure to surround ourselves with those whose reflection is bright and shining and a source of direction such as the star that the three wise men followed many years ago.

  • 01 Mar 2022 9:48 AM | Lynette Pitt (Administrator)

    The terms of five current members of the NCADA Board of Directors will expire in June 2022. Nominations for the five vacant Director positions are now being accepted to serve a three year term beginning at the close of the 2022 Annual Meeting through the close of the 2025 Annual Meeting.

    Director responsibilities include:

    • Regular attendance and participation at quarterly meetings of the Board;
    • Membership recruitment and retention;
    • Contributing and participating in Association programs and services;
    • Other individual responsibilities as required.

    To qualify for a position on the NCADA Board of Directors, the nominee should

    • Be a member in good standing with the North Carolina State Bar and the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys; and
    • Shown commitment and support of the NCADA through regular attendance at the NCADA's Annual Meeting, other programs and activities.

    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:

    Nominations must be received no later than Monday, March 28, 2022, 5 p.m.

    Print a copy.

  • 27 Jan 2022 10:55 AM | Deleted user

    Denaa Griffin
    My favorite person and mentor is George Simpson IV. He is a terrific boss and mentor. As a young insurance defense attorney, it was challenging to identify a Black partner to glean wisdom from and that made the beginning of my litigation career very difficult. George took me under his wing and immediately began teaching me to fish. As we worked together, I began to trust my lawyer instinct and loved litigation at a time when most associates were looking to transition out of litigating altogether. He was not just focused on career advancement, he mentored the whole person, extending beyond work to understand my values, relationships, and personal strengths. When many employees, and attorneys as well, are seeking opportunities to change firms and organizations or leave the legal field altogether, George has mastered the art of better mentoring for young attorneys. I hope he knows he is an outstanding attorney and mentor.

    David Hood:
    This question is easy for me to answer.  It's hard to overstate how much I learned from watching my former law partner Steve Thomas.  As 1) an Advocate, I learned from Steve that often it is the calm, understated, and graceful speaker who persuades judge or jury - which as a dramatic sort of fella, I really needed to learn.  As 2) a Professional, Steve taught me to value membership in organizations like the NCADA and not just to sit on the sidelines but to get into the game - by serving in leadership roles and contributing what I could to the betterment of our association and our profession.  And finally, as 3) a Citizen, Steve modeled for me what being a lawyer in one's local community ought to mean - leadership within the local bar, service through participation both in non-profits and in the political system, and commitment to family, faith, and friendships above all.

    Everyone should have a Steve Thomas.   If you can, be a Steve Thomas to some David Hood noob out there in your own corner of the world.

    Sammy Thompson:
    One of my many mentors was Willis Smith, Jr. who taught me the power of short, declarative sentences unencumbered by unnecessary words. In the fall of 1971, I watched him in one afternoon write a brief to the North Carolina Supreme Court. He covered all the issues in eleven pages. Every word was precise. Every sentence was to the point. Every paragraph was persuasive. In December of that year, he and I were defending a wrongful death case. Willis was killed on a Saturday when the small plane he was piloting was slammed into by an Eastern Airlines DC-9. One month later, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled in his favor based on his brief.

    Brady Yntema:

    While I have been fortunate to have had many mentors inside and outside the legal profession, the one person who truly taught me how to be a professional in any field was Dr. Jo Watts Williams at Elon University.  Dr. Williams was Elon’s first vice president for development, but had a long history in education and a true mission in helping young people find their “true self”. 

    One night in my early days as a first semester freshman at Elon, I thought it would be cool to join a small group of other students in throwing water balloons out of our third floor dorm room windows at unsuspecting passersby, one of which just so happened to be an Elon security officer (that water balloon came out of my dorm room window).  Long story short, as a result, I was assigned to 10 hours of campus service in Dr. Williams’ office to help prepare for an upcoming fundraising event.  After serving my time, Dr. Williams approached me and said “while you came to us in trouble, I think you have some room to shine.”  Fortunate for me, she allowed me to work as her part-time assistant, which turned into a four-year experience during which I was able to watch and learn how a true professional operates. 

    During my time with Dr. Williams, she took great interest in my grades and on-campus activities to make sure (in her words) “I was living up to my potential.”  In doing so, she taught me how to embrace challenges and appreciate the difference that one person can make in any community.  When I told her that I was going to apply to law school, she smiled and in her unassuming way simply said “whatever you decide just don’t forget to pay attention to the details of life and those around you.”  I have tried to apply a lot of the advice Dr. Williams gave me through her leadership, and when presented with an opportunity or difficult situation I still often ask myself “what would Dr. Williams do.” 

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