Winston Kirby, NEXT Leadership Class of 2023
Winston Kirby is one of the 21 members of the NCAJ NEXT Leadership Program class of 2023. The program, which graduated its first class in 2022, identifies the state’s emerging trial lawyer leaders.
Lives in: Raleigh
Law degree from: Campbell University’s Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law School
Works as: Attorney at Edwards Kirby, LLP
Legal Association Involvement: NCBA, Mock trial
Why NCAJ NEXT?
I have attended NCAJ Conventions and events since I was 8 years old. I think that the next 10 years are extremely important for the future of the NCAJ. We need to attract new members to sustain financial viability, while also retaining current and future members by offering/providing services that make NCAJ membership attractive. The “old guard” who provided large injections of capital to grow and sustain the NCAJ are aging out, and I fear that will jeopardize the strength of the NCAJ. The future of the NCAJ is contingent on attracting new members. My goal in participating in the NCAJ Next Program would be to grow the strength of the new member services and focus on providing services that are helpful in retaining and growing the strength of the organization through active participation. I also believe that I can address former members who have made large contributions to the organization and hopefully convince them that their legacy will be protected and honored by continuing or additional financial support.
Why is the idea of civil justice important to you?
Civil justice has been the center of my life from the time I understood what civil justice truly meant. There is no recourse in our judicial system to hold those accountable for their acts outside of the civil justice system. Civil actions have resulted in cleaner water, cleaner air and accountability for corporations and insurance companies who have exponentially more resources than the average plaintiff. As a plaintiff, the deck is stacked against you. Years of effective ads, lobbying, and tort reform have stripped plaintiffs’ rights to a trial by jury, resulting in the degradation and unavailability of true justice.
What’s your vision for the future of NCAJ?
This is the most important question, and the reason I want to become involved in this program. I see the NCAJ moving in one of two directions. The first direction involves the gradual retirement and lesser involvement from the firms that make donations to sustain the organization and the PAC. NCAJ does not have the resources to provide services that attract new members, and sustain current members involvement. NCAJ members lose interest, the donations are drastically reduced, and the NCAJ becomes a skeleton organization. I believe this is a distinct possibility and is one that we must avoid at all costs.
The second direction involves reaching out to younger members of the community and imploring law firms to provide or make available NCAJ membership to their new attorneys. These attorneys are provided with actual, concrete advice from mentors and other seasoned members of the NCAJ community. The new lawyers are implored to post questions on the listserv, without fear that an older lawyer will respond condescendingly. These virtual forums serve as a vital resource for young lawyers to ask the simplest of questions without fear of “looking stupid” or inexperienced in the eyes of others. Conventions become more open and accessible, and young lawyers are not forced into a corner alone because they don’t have the war stories of the older generation. That generation, which has continued to profit well past the normal age of retirement, owes a duty to the new generation to make sure that they are included and educated. More opportunities are created, informally or formally, for younger lawyers to make actual connections with other members in the field instead of relying on CLEs for their legal education. The current and new members realized the value of the organization and are more likely to make sustaining contributions to both the organization and the PAC. This is the future we need.
Away from work …
I enjoy taking my old, beat-up BMW to the track on the weekends. I also enjoy constantly fixing the problems that come from taking an old BMW to the track on the weekends. I was appointed to the North Carolina History Museum Board of Directors and serve on the Board of Directors for Kenly Savings Bank, a small institution that serves North Carolinians in the east of the state.