Specialization Award Recipients

The Howard L. Gum Service Award is given to a specialty committee member who consistently excels in completing committee tasks. The 12 specialty committees are integral of the specialization program. They are responsible for evaluating every application for certification and recertification, including peer references, and writing and grading the specialty examinations. The recipient of the Howard Gum award must be highly dedicated to legal specialization, donate his/her time to committee responsibilities, and respond to the needs of the State Bar staff and the board in an exemplary fashion. The recipient of the 2014 Howard L. Gum Service Award is Matthew Ladenheim. Trademark law was offered as a new specialty area in 2013. In a process that took over three years, Matthew chaired the specialty committee in setting the standards for certification in trademark law, drafting the initial certification exam, which included untold hours working with the board’s psychometrician, and grading 19 exams during its first administration last fall. Throughout the process, Matthew has always remained calm, positive, and funny. His nominator said it best: “Matthew is always punctual and reliable, he sets high goals and has high expectations, and he is the first to meet and exceed these same high goals and expectations.” The awards committee and the board recognize and acknowledge Matthew for all of his hard work and dedication to specialty certification.

The James E. Cross Jr. Leadership Award is presented to a certified specialist who has taken an active leadership role in his/her practice area through presentations at CLE seminars, scholarly writings, participation in groundbreaking cases, or service to an established professional organization. The recipient of the 2014 James E. Cross Jr. Leadership Award is Margaret Burhnam. Margaret’s nominator noted that she is smart, experienced, and hard working, but never aloof, arrogant, or unapproachable. Margaret became a Board Certified Specialist in real property business, commercial, and industrial transactions in 1997. Margaret has served the legal profession in many different capacities including State Bar councilor, member of the North Carolina Bar Association Board of Governors, and chair of the Bar Association Real Property Section to name a few. Margaret has been an interesting and enthusiastic presenter at innumerable CLE programs, speaking on topics from real property ethics to legal malpractice. A nominator said, “Many of us are active with the Bar now primarily because Margaret was willing to take the time and bring people into the right fit with Bar activities.” She is, in the words of another nominator, “truly remarkable, unique, and well-deserving of any and all recognitions of her many efforts.”

The Sara H. Davis Excellence Award is presented to a certified specialist who exemplifies excellence in his/her daily work as a lawyer and serves as a model for other lawyers. Special consideration is given for a long and consistent record of handling challenging matters successfully, for sharing knowledge and experience with other lawyers, for earning the respect and admiration of all others with whom the lawyer comes into contact in his/her daily work, and for high ethical standards. The recipient of the 2014 Sara H. Davis Excellence Award is Hank Patterson. Hank became a board certified specialist in workers’ compensation law in 2000. Hank has received the most nomination for a specialization award in the history of the program - over 60 lawyers wrote to the board to recommend him for this award. To describe Hank, the nominators used words like: “legendary,” “role model,” “almost without peer,” and “simply the best.” One of the nominators notes that Hank’s appellate work, litigation, and legislative efforts on the behalf of the workers and the laws that insure compensation for work-related injuries have been “exemplary and tireless.” As one nominator stated, “Both plaintiffs and defense attorneys respect his knowledge, professionalism, and the manner in which he represents his clients.”


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