Award’s New Name Will Honor Organization Founders

May 17, 2022

NCAJ has rechristened its highest award, changing the name of the Walter Clark Award to the Founders Award.

Walter Clark was Chief Justice of the Supreme of Court of North Carolina from 1903 to 1924. His rulings on many plaintiffs’ issues were ahead of his time, as were his beliefs on women’s right to vote. His commitment to plaintiffs’ rights is likely one of the reasons the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers originally named the award for him.

The new name of the award is the result of a deliberative process that began in late 2021 when an article published in The State Bar Journal outlined the associations of several prominent, early 20th-century attorneys with the Confederacy. You can read the complete article here.

NCAJ Past President Cliff Britt, a past recipient of the award, brought the Bar Journal article to the attention of President John McCabe and brought up the idea of changing the name of the award.

McCabe asked NCAJ President-elect Valerie Johnson and NCAJ Diversity & Inclusion Vice President Anna Kalarites to assemble a task force to come up with a new name.

At its April 29 meeting, the Board of Governors approved the name change to the Founders Award. The award honors a member for extraordinary service to justice and to the Advocates for Justice in the tradition of our founding members, Allen Bailey, Charles Blanchard, James Clontz, Eugene Phillips and William Thorp.

We look forward to presenting the newly renamed award to NCAJ Past President Phil Baddour in June.