At a September 18 luncheon in Raleigh, N.C., hosted by North Carolina Lawyers Weekly and Elon University School of Law, law school dean George R. Johnson, Jr. presented The Hon. Charles L. Becton with Elon Law’s 2013 Leadership in the Law Award.
The Leadership in the Law Award recognizes lawyers who make outstanding contributions to the profession and to society. Presenting the award, Johnson noted that Becton was active in civil rights advocacy while in law school and that, as the 2008-2009 president of the North Carolina Bar Association, Becton asked every member of the association to identify and denounce a particularly egregious injustice and then to develop a response to that injustice.
“To emerge as one of North Carolina’s true leaders from the challenging times of the American civil rights era and to exhibit an unerring focus on the well-being of others throughout his career is a supreme testament to his leadership,” Johnson said of Becton. “We at Elon admire Judge Becton’s trailblazing leadership, his devotion to rooting out injustice, his consistent service to the betterment of the legal profession, his role as a teacher of law and his focus on the expansion and improvement of educational opportunities for young people across the state and nation. Therefore, in recognition of his achievements and his service to the community, Elon University School of Law is pleased to present the 2013 Leadership in the Law award to the Honorable Charles L. Becton.”
Receiving the award, Becton said that his achievements were in many ways the result of support he had received throughout his life and career, especially from his wife, Brenda Becton, his former law partners, colleagues on the N.C. Court of Appeals, the deans of law schools where he has taught and his students.
“Law has been the vehicle through which I have sought to serve the public,” Becton said. “No honor is greater than that bestowed by peers upon one for outstanding contributions to the profession and to society. I am honored to be this year’s recipient of Elon University School of Law’s Leadership in the Law Award.”
Born in Morehead City and raised in Ayden, North Carolina, Charles L. Becton earned his undergraduate degree at Howard University and law degrees from Duke University (J.D.) and the University of Virginia (LL.M.). He began his legal career in 1969 with the New York-based NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and joined the Charlotte law firm of Chambers Stein Ferguson & Lanning the following year. He helped establish the firm’s Chapel Hill office, where he practiced until being appointed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in 1981. Becton remained on the appellate bench until 1990, returning to private practice with the Raleigh law firm of Fuller, Becton, Slifkin & Bell.
In 2012, Becton became the interim chancellor at North Carolina Central University. Shortly before he was due to complete that assignment, Becton was named interim chancellor of Elizabeth City State University. He has taught and lectured at trial advocacy skills institutes across the United States and internationally. In addition, he has taught as the John Scott Cansler Lecturer at the University of North Carolina School of Law and as a visiting professor of the practice at the Duke University School of Law. In 2010, Becton served as the Charles Hamilton Houston Chaired Professor of Law at North Carolina Central University School of Law.
Becton has served as president of the N.C. Academy of Trial Lawyers, the N.C. Association of Black Lawyers and the N.C. Bar Association. He is a current member of the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission and a former member of the N.C .Department of Public Instruction’s Law Related Education Advisory Committee and the N.C. State Bar Plan for Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts Board of Trustees. He is a former member of the following American Bar Association committees: Criminal Justice Standards Committee, Intermediate Appellate Court Program Committee, Special Committee on Youth Education for Citizenship and Standing Committee on Medical Professional Liability. His awards and honors include N.C. Appellate Judge of the Year; the Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. Trial Advocacy Award; the Roscoe Pound Foundation’s Richard S. Jacobson Award; and the N.C. Academy of Trial Lawyers’ Trial Advocacy Award, which was named in his honor. He and his wife, Brenda, have three adult children.
This the third year that Elon Law has presented a Leadership in the Law Award. The 2011 recipients of the Leadership in the Law Award were Greensboro attorneys and Elon Law preceptors Mike Marshall and Karen McKeithen Schaede. The 2012 recipient was Guilford County Public Defender Frederick G. Lind.