A. Ward McKeithen Receives North Carolina Bar Association’s Litigation Section Advocate’s Award



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July 1, 2013

A. Ward McKeithen, an attorney with Robinson Bradshaw, has received the North Carolina Bar Association’s Litigation Section Advocate’s Award. The award was presented at the Litigation Section’s annual meeting on June 20 in Asheville, North Carolina. McKeithen is only the seventh recipient of this prestigious award.

The Advocate’s Award was established to recognize members of the NCBA’s Litigation Section who are considered the “superstars” of their profession. Nominees for the award are expected to exhibit the highest ethical standards, demonstrate a true commitment of service to clients and respect and love of the law, be held in the highest regard by the both the bench and the bar, show dedication to community through pro bono or volunteer service, and demonstrate balance between outstanding professional performance and other life endeavors.

“In his impressive quiver of lawyerly skills are those of an accomplished professional peacemaker,” Everett J. Bowman, McKeithen’s partner at Robinson Bradshaw, wrote in his nomination letter. “Ward is so good in that role that I and his other partners often seek his advice concerning complex litigation and other difficult legal disputes.”

Bowman points out that McKeithen’s peacemaking efforts extend beyond the courtroom. He notes, “In the midst of a law firm partners’ meeting where some difficult or divisive matter is generating much angst, Ward will often put the matter in proper perspective by reminding everyone of how much we as law partners and friends have to be thankful for … his partners are accustomed to look to him to serve as a sort of moral compass or conscience of the firm.”

Outside of his professional life, McKeithen’s dedication to service is apparent in the important civic and community leadership positions he has held during his career. He has served as a member of the board of trustees of Queens College since 1974; he served as a member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg board of education from 1976 to 1988, during a time of intense challenges accompanying the end of racial segregation; he served as president of the Mecklenburg County Bar from 1993-94; and he has also served as director of the Arts and Science Council and as president and board member of the Charlotte Nature Museum.

“As I reviewed the criteria for this award, it struck me that I could not imagine any lawyer better suited for it than Ward,” Dan T. Coenen, former partner at Robinson Bradshaw and current professor and Harmon W. Caldwell Chair in Constitutional Law at The University of Georgia, wrote in his nomination letter. “To me, it is as if whoever crafted those criteria must have had in mind exactly the citizen-counselor-litigator-servant, and model for us all, that Ward is.”

McKeithen earned his law degree in 1963 from Duke University where he served as the associate editor of the Duke Law Journal and was awarded the Order of the Coif. He graduated from Davidson College in 1960 and was awarded membership in Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society.

“Ward sees his work in the law as providing him with the privilege of rendering service to others,” Coenen said. “He builds his life around this high calling he sees in being a member of the bar – marking it with temperance, tolerance, utter honesty, public-mindedness, and the notion that this all takes place for a greater purpose that is connected up for him with an abiding, but never haughty or exclusionary, spirituality.”

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