Former NC Court of Appeals Chief Judge Linda McGee and Brooks Pierce Managing Partner Reid Phillips received the John B. McMillan Distinguished Service Award on October 6, 2021, during the Annual Meeting of the NC State Bar Council in Raleigh. The awards were presented to them for exemplary service to the legal profession by State Bar President Barbara R. Christy during the State Bar Councilor’s Dinner attended by councilors from across the state.
Chief Judge Linda McGee
Chief Judge McGee received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She served as the first executive director of the NC Academy of Trial Lawyers (now NC Advocates for Justice) from 1973 to 1978. She practiced law in Boone for more than 17 years in the law firm of Di Santi, Watson and McGee, where she led several community organizations, including serving as the first woman president of the Watauga County and the 24th Judicial District Bar Associations. She was a founding member of OASIS, Inc., which is dedicated to serving those affected by family violence, and she was a leader of the League of Women Voters, Boone Federation of Business and Professional Women, and AAUW.
Judge McGee was appointed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in 1995 by Governor Jim Hunt. She ran three statewide races, being elected in 1996 to an eight-year term and re-elected in 2004 and 2012. As a result, Judge McGee is the longest-serving judge in the history of the court of appeals, having served 26 years until her retirement at the end of 2020. In 2014 she was named chief judge of the court of appeals, where she led the court, oversaw its administration, served on the State Judicial Council, and served as vice-chair of the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism, in addition to fulfilling her judicial role. Beginning in 2016, she helped form and chaired the Celebrate NC Courts Committee, which was responsible for planning and presenting the anniversary celebrations for each level of North Carolina’s court system, including leading the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the North Carolina Court of Appeals in 2017 and promoting the Judicial Branch Speakers Bureau. In 2019, Chief Justice Cheri Beasley presented Chief Judge McGee the Friend of the Court Award for these leadership roles.
Chief Judge McGee has also served in leadership positions in numerous professional organizations, including most recently the NC State Bar’s Board of Continuing Legal Education, along with the IOLTA Board, and the NC Board of Law Examiners. She is a former member of the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission, Legal Services of NC Board, the NC Bar Association Board of Governors, and is a founding member of the NC Association of Women Attorneys, where she helped form its Judicial Division, which she currently co-chairs. Judge McGee is the recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the NC Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award, the Judge of the Year Award from NCAWA, the Outstanding Appellate Judge Award from the NC Advocates for Justice, and the ABOTA Award. She has also been a frequent CLE speaker for bar organizations across the state.
Reid L. Phillips
Reid L. Phillips is a business trial lawyer, primarily representing large companies facing complex business disputes, including defense of class action lawsuits, malpractice claims, and serious personal injury and death claims. Mr. Phillips has been a lawyer for more than 40 years and has been the managing partner of Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard since 2016. He is responsible for the strategic leadership and overall management of the firm with his primary office in Greensboro.
During his career, Mr. Phillips has given much of his time to the advancement of the legal profession, including serving as a member of the NC Board of Law Examiners and an advisory member of the NC State Bar Ethics Committee. He was chair of the NC Bar Association’s Strategic Planning and Emerging Trends Committee, chaired the NCBA’s Young Lawyers Division, and served on its Board of Governors and Executive Committee. He recently completed a term as vice-president of the NCBA. Mr. Phillips was also president of the 18th Judicial District Bar.
Mr. Phillips has served the public as chair of the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, chair of the LeBauer Park steering committee, and chair of the War Memorial Commission (Greensboro Coliseum). He was also a member of the board of directors of the Weatherspoon Art Museum Association.
The service of Mr. Phillips was well noted when he was named to Business North Carolina’s “Power List” of most influential state leaders this year. He also received the NCBA’s Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake Jr. Public Service Award in 2019 and Leadership Greensboro’s Denise E. Maleska Leadership Service Award in 2018.
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