Melvin F. Wright Jr. received the John B. McMillan Distinguished Service Award in Asheville, North Carolina, on July 27, 2017. State Bar President Mark Merritt presented the award.
Mr. Wright is, in every conceivable way, a most deserving recipient of the John B. McMillan Distinguished Service Award. He served in the military from 1967 to 1970, and was honorably discharged from active duty in 1970 as a first lieutenant. For his service in Vietnam, he was awarded the Bronze Star and Air Medal.
Mr. Wright’s contributions to the legal community are far too numerous to list. However, his service as the first and only executive director of the Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism is most noteworthy. Mr. Wright’s effectiveness in that role has resulted in a substantial increase in the degree of professionalism within the Bar as a whole.
Mr. Wright has served as an adjunct professor at both the University of North Carolina School of Law and the Norman A. Wiggins School of Law at Campbell University. He has participated as a presenter in countless continuing legal education programs designed to instill and promote the values of professionalism. In addition, he has been frequently published in the North Carolina State Bar Journal and in various other publications on the subject of professionalism. He served as an advisory member to various committees of the State Bar charged with determining critical issues of professional responsibility and explicating the reasons for those determinations.
Mr. Wright has served as president of the Forsyth County Bar Association and the 21st Judicial District Bar. He has also chaired the National Consortium on Professionalism Initiatives, the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Professionalism, and the Professionalism Committees of the North Carolina Bar Association and the Wake County Bar Association.
Mr. Wright has committed large amounts of his time to assist lawyers suffering from addiction and mental illness through his work with the State Bar's Lawyer Assistance Program and the North Carolina Bar Association's BarCARES Program. He has also worked closely with the North Carolina Bar Association's Transitioning Lawyers Commission in an effort to ensure that senior members of the Bar might discontinue the active practice of law, when necessary, with dignity and grace.
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