An assistant chief counsel to the Watergate Committee, a former Charlotte mayor, a nationally known criminal defense attorney, and the first woman to lead Wake Forest University School of Law are among the 23 lawyers inducted into the inaugural North Carolina Lawyers Hall of Fame during a luncheon Tuesday, June 26, at the Capital Club in downtown Raleigh.
Raleigh attorneys Gene Boyce and Joseph Blount Cheshire V and Wake Forest University School of Law Dean Suzanne Reynolds were among those named as some of North Carolina’s most significant senior lawyers with the establishment of the N.C. Lawyers Hall of Fame, according to organizers.
The program is sponsored by BridgeTower Media Carolinas Group, publishers of South Carolina Lawyers Weekly, N.C. Lawyers Weekly, and The Mecklenburg Times, the real estate and public notice newspaper based in Charlotte. It recognizes lawyers 60 and older.
Criteria for selection include: career accomplishments, contributions to the profession, contributions to the development of the law, contributions to the bar and the commonwealth and efforts to increase access to justice.
Boyce, who recently retired from Nexsen Pruet, is still active part-time and says he has “one more jury trial left.”
His work focused on class-action cases, commercial litigation, and constitutional law. He has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. Boyce served as assistant chief counsel to the Watergate Committee and was the lead investigator whose interviews uncovered President Nixon’s secret taping system in the White House.
He also was involved in an 17-year battle with Gov. Roy Cooper over an advertisement the Cooper committee ran during the 2000 campaign for attorney general. The race pitted Democrat Cooper against Boyce’s son Dan, a Republican.
Gene Boyce claimed the Cooper committee ran false ads that harmed the reputation of Boyce and his law partners. Cooper issued an apology in 2014. Boyce also filed a complaint with the N.C. State Bar, claiming it had a conflict of interest, since Cooper served as its attorney. The N.C. Court of Appeals in 2017 overturned part of a trial-court ruling against Boyce.
David Donovan, an announcer and reporter for the weekly publication, said Boyce was honored, in part, “for the depth of ways he has contributed to his profession.”
Boyce said, “Having happy clients, win or lose, is great. But to be chosen by and among my friends and fellow lawyers is ‘super.’ I am astonished to be here.”
Cheshire is a founding partner at Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC, in Raleigh, where he practices criminal law. He has handled cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, has been the lead lawyer in cases in which the death-row inmates have been exonerated and freed, and was the lead lawyer for the wrongly accused Duke University lacrosse players. He also served as a defense attorney for former Govs. Mike Easley and Bev Perdue and former state Sen. R.C. Soles Jr. He was the founding chief justice of Wake Forest Law’s moot court program.
Reynolds, who announced she will step down as the law school’s first woman dean, will remain on the faculty, where she has served for nearly 40 years. She was a principal drafter of statutes that modernized laws regarding alimony, equitable distribution, and adoption.
“As a dean and a professor she sought to teach the legal profession is unique,” explained announcer Andrea Mounts, general manager of the BridgeTower Media Carolinas Group. “For her guidance and the wisdom she has imparted to about 6,000 law students, we welcome Suzanne Reynolds into the Hall of Fame.”
Also in the inaugural class are Henry Frye and Patricia Timmons-Goodson, North Carolina’s first African-American chief justice and female African-American Supreme Court justice.
The full list of honorees is here.