Profiles in Leadership
Welcome to the Profiles in Leadership section of the Journal. We are pleased to offer the following interviews from two outstanding lawyer-leaders this issue: former Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court James G. Exum, Jr., and Greg Hembree, Solicitor for South Carolina's Fifteenth Judicial Circuit.
Solving Problems, Serving Others
An Interview with James Exum
Former Chief Justice James G. Exum, Jr., an attorney at Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP in Greensboro, served on the North Carolina Supreme Court from 1974 to 1994, and served as Chief Justice from 1986 to 1994. He currently leads his firm's appellate practice group, supervising and assisting lawyers with all aspects of appeals in state and federal courts. He also writes briefs and makes oral arguments before appellate and trial courts on legal issues. Mr. Exum has a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina and a law degree from New York University. He began his career in Greensboro in 1961 with Smith Moore Smith Schell & Hunter. He was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 1967 and that same year began service as Resident Superior Court Judge of Guilford County, holding that position until being elected to the state Supreme Court in 1974. During his service with the Supreme Court, Exum wrote 402 opinions for the court and 208 concurring or dissenting opinions. As a lawyer, he has participated in more than 40 appeals in state and federal appellate courts. Mr. Exum is the Distinguished Jurist in Residence at Elon University School of Law.
In our first Profile in Leadership, former Chief Justice Exum discusses his leadership on the North Carolina Supreme Court, in particular his efforts to resolve a difficult legal dispute: how to compensate cotton mill workers in cases involving injury and disease where particulate inhalation in the mill was only one of several possible factors in a disability claim. He also explains his leadership role in reforming the process of judicial election in North Carolina, and the important responsibility that lawyers have to give back to the community.
Leadership from the Head and Heart
An Interview with J. Gergory Hembree
Greg Hembree is Solicitor for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit of South Carolina and in that capacity serves as the chief prosecuting attorney for Horry and Georgetown Counties. Mr. Hembree received his B.B.A. in Economics from the University of Memphis in 1982 and his Juris Doctor from the University Of South Carolina School Of Law. He was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1986, and has also been admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He has been a criminal prosecutor for over twenty years, serving as an Assistant Solicitor for the Fifth Judicial Circuit and City Attorney for North Myrtle Beach before being elected to the office of Solicitor in 1998. During his career as a prosecuting attorney, Mr. Hembree has prosecuted every type of case from a routine traffic ticket to death penalty murder. In addition to his responsibilities as Solicitor, he teaches courses to attorneys and law enforcement officers on a variety of criminal justice topics. Mr. Hembree has served two terms as president of the South Carolina Solicitor's Association and currently serves as South Carolina's representative to the National District Attorneys Association. He and his wife Renee have three children, Nora (23), Ellen (21), and John (16). The Hembrees live in Little River, South Carolina, and are members of Ocean Drive Presbyterian Church.
In this Profile in Leadership, Mr. Hembree speaks about his approach to creating a strong leadership presence in his office. He discusses the abilities and qualities that are critical for effective leadership, particularly the importance of treating people fairly and always thanking others for their work. He also illuminates the importance of avoiding ego and selfishness, two pitfalls that can endanger a leader’s success. His remarks conclude with a discussion of ways to benefit the community, and a description of his State Senate campaign.