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Each year we are proud to present the specialization awards based on nominations that we receive from board certified specialists. Your input is very important in this process and we hope that you will take a moment to nominate a colleague. The awards are defined below along with links to the nomination forms. 

Annual Specialists Luncheon - Mark Your Calendar

The 2020 Annual Specialists Luncheon was cancelled due to public health concerns surrounding the COVID-19 virus. Any award nominations that were submitted will be carried over for consideration in 2021. Thank you for your understanding and stay safe. 

The Sara H. Davis Excellence Award

Nominations for this award are accepted from North Carolina certified specialists. The award is presented to a certified specialist who exemplifies excellence in his/her daily work as an attorney 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.

Sara H. Davis Excellence Award Nomination Form

List of Past Recipients

The James E. Cross Jr. Leadership Award

Nominations for this award are accepted from members of the North Carolina State Bar who have worked closely with the nominee. The 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.

James E. Cross Jr. Award Nomination Form

List of Past Recipients

The Howard L. Gum Service Award

This award is given to a specialty committee member who consistently excels in completing committee tasks. The recipient is highly dedicated to legal specialization, donates his/her time to committee responsibilities, and responds to the needs of the staff and the Board, in exemplary fashion. Nominations can only be accepted from committee members.

Howard L. Gun Award Nomination Form

List of Past Recipients

Past Award Recipients

Sara H. Davis Excellence Award

2019 – Angela Doughty, trademark law

2018 – Rose Stout, family law

2017 - James B. Angell, business bankruptcy law

2016 - Albert F. Durham, business bankruptcy law

2015 - Ken A. Shanklin, real property law

2014 - Henry N. Patterson, Jr., workers’ compensation law

2013 - John W. Narron, family law

2012 - Nancy S. Ferguson, real property law

2011 - Marcia H. Armstrong, family law

2010 - W. Timothy Haithcock, workers’ compensation law

2009 - Lana Starnes Warlick, family law

2008 - J. Kirk Osborn, criminal law

2007 - Mason T. Hogan, social security law

2006 - Maria M. Lynch, estate planning/probate law


James E. Cross Jr. Leadership Award

2019 – Matt Cordell, privacy and information security law

2018 – Leonard “Lennie” Jernigan, workers' compensation law

2017 - Steven H. Garfinkel, immigration law

2016 - Ann Robertson, immigration law

2015 - James Wade Harrison, family law

2014 - Margaret S. Burhnam, real property law

2013 - Judge John M. Tyson, real property law

2012 - Justice Robert H. Edmunds, criminal and appellate law

2011 - Vernon R. Sumwalt, workers’ compensation law

2010 - Charles T. Hall, social security law

2009 - R. Woody Harrison, real property law

2008 - Terri L. Gardner, bankruptcy law

2007 - Robin J. Stinson, family law

2006 - Joseph B. Cheshire V., criminal law


Howard L. Gum Service Award

2019 – Tom Fulghum, immigration law

2018 – Robert “Bert” Kemp, criminal law

2017 - Henry C. Campen, utilities law

2016 - Julie C. Boyer, juvenile delinquency law

2015 - John J. Korzen, appellate practice

2014 - Matthew J. Ladenheim, trademark law

2013 - Robert A. Ponton, family law

2012 - Elizabeth B. Scherer, appellate law

2011 - Charles W. Coltrane, family law

2010 - Kate A. Mewhinney, elder law

2009 - William “Ned” Manning, real property law

2008 - Jaye P. Meyer, family law

2007 - Thomas C. Manning, criminal law

2006 - Christine L. Myatt, bankruptcy law

Background Information 

The Sara H. Davis Excellence Award was named for Sara Davis, who was in the first class of applicants to become board certified in both business and consumer bankruptcy law in 1987. She joined the Board of Legal Specialization the following year and served two full terms until 1994, including a three year term as chair. 

The James E. Cross Jr. Leadership Award was named for Jim Cross, who was among the first to become board certified in real property law. Soon after, he was appointed to the Board of Legal Specialization. He served on the board for six years, assuming a leadership role as chair for his last three years of service. 

The Howard L. Gum Service Award was named for Howard Gum, who served on the Family Law Specialty Committee for six years then on the Board of Legal Specialization for an additional six years, and chaired the board for most of his second term.