Six Alumni Honored at Annual N.C. Bar Association Meeting, Kearns Davis '95 Sworn in as President

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Kearns Davis

The 118th North Carolina Bar Association Annual Meeting was held in Charlotte, June 23-26, 2016. Six Carolina Law alumni were recognized.

Kearns Davis ’95 Sworn in as NCBA President

On June 25, Kearns Davis ’95, a partner with Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard LLP, was installed as the 122nd president of the NCBA. Previously, Davis served as the chair of the NCBA’s Young Lawyers Division from 2004-05 and was honored as the first recipient of the organization’s Robinson O. Everett Professionalism Award in 2010. He chaired the NCBA’s criminal justice section from 2007-08, served as a member of the NCBA Board of Governors from 2011-12, and chaired the audit and finance committee of the NCBA and the NCBA Foundation while acting as the president-elect over the past year.

“The North Carolina Bar Association’s mission is to pursue liberty and justice for the people of North Carolina,” says Davis. “I’m humbled by the privilege of working with lawyers and judges across the state to strengthen and support our legal system.”

Thomas W. Ross ’75 Receives the Judge John J. Parker Award

The highest award bestowed by the NCBA, the Judge John J. Parker Award was presented to Thomas W. Ross ’75, former president of Davidson College and the University of North Carolina system. Prior to his work in higher education, Ross acted as the executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, served as a Superior Court judge for 17 years, and directed North Carolina’s Administrative Office of the Courts. In February, Ross became the first Terry Sanford Distinguished Fellow at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. In July, Ross began his role as president of the Volcker Alliance, a nonpartisan organization formed “to address the challenges of effective execution of public policies and to help rebuild public trust in government.” Additional honors received by Ross include the William Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence, the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, Governing Magazine’s National Public Official of the Year, and the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. The Judge John J. Parker Memorial Award is not given every year, and honors the memory of Judge Parker by encouraging deep devotion to the law.

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Willis P. Whichard ’65 Receives the H. Brent McKnight Renaissance Lawyer Award

Willis P. Whichard ’65, the only individual to serve in both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly and both divisions of the appellate courts, was the 2016 recipient of the H. Brent McKnight Renaissance Lawyer Award. Whichard graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and the UNC School of Law. A native of Durham, Whichard served in the N.C. House of Representatives from 1970-74 and the N.C. Senate from 1974-80. He served on the N.C. Court of Appeals from 1980-86 and the N.C. Supreme Court from 1986-98. Additionally, Whichard was a member of the N.C. General Statutes Commission from 1969-73, the Dean of the Campbell Law School from 1986-98, and an adjunct professor at the UNC School of Law from 1986-99. The H. Brent McKnight Renaissance Lawyer Award seeks to recognize North Carolina attorneys who inspire others with their trustworthiness, respect, and courteous treatment of all people.

Rachel Blunk ’11 Receives the Younger Lawyer Pro Bono Award

An active pro bono volunteer with the Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Pittsboro office, Rachel Blunk ’11 is the 2016 recipient of the Younger Lawyers Pro Bono Award, an honor presented annually by the Young Lawyer’s Division. In addition to preparing wills, power of attorneys and health care power of attorneys in collaboration with the NCCU School of Law and the Alamance County Bar, Blunk has participated in numerous pro bono projects, including NC LEAP, Ash-A-Lawyer, Wills for Heroes, Project Grace, and Will for Equality. Blunk has served in various roles with the NCBA, the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys and the Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties, where she focused on anti-bullying initiatives. Currently, she is treasurer of the Alamance Partnership for Children.

Two Alumni Inducted into N.C. General Practice Hall of Fame

The N.C. General Practice Hall of Fame seeks to recognize exemplary service and high ethical and professional standards as a general legal practitioner in North Carolina.

  • Charles Palmer Brown ’66

Throughout his career, Charles Palmer Brown ’66 has practiced in all state courts and in federal courts. After earning a B.S. in Business as a Morehead Scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill, Brown went on to attend UNC School of Law and practice at his family’s law firm in Stanly County. At 25, Brown represented an indigent, teenage client before the Supreme Court, and he ultimately helped the teenager avoid a life sentence. “Folks have been good, mighty good to our family and our firm for over a hundred years,” said Brown. “I hope I have done something to earn their respect during the years I have practiced and to prepare the way for those who follow.”

  • Ralph “Bo” McDonald ’64

Ralph “Bo” McDonald ’64 has spent the entirety of his career at Baily & Dixon, LLP, where he has been a managing partner for most of his tenure. For 40 years, McDonald has served as principal counsel to the State Employees Credit Union. He also served as Board Counsel for state licensing boards, sat on the board of the Raleigh Rescue Mission, spent decades on the criminal indigent list before the introduction of Wake County’s public defender system, actively participated in the Volunteer Lawyers Program, acted as the founding chair of the North Carolina Bar Association Administrative Law Section in 1989 and served on the NCBA Free Dispute Committee.

-July 8, 2016

UNC School of Law | Van Hecke-Wettach Hall | 160 Ridge Road, CB #3380 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380 | 919.962.5106


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