Elon University School of Law Dean Luke Bierman presented Mark Martin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, with Elon Law’s highest professional honor, the Leadership in the Law Award, recognizing Martin’s significant contributions to law, the legal profession and society.
Bierman presented Chief Justice Martin with the Leadership in the Law Award on Sept. 19 in Raleigh, North Carolina, at a gathering of approximately 250 accomplished lawyers hosted by North Carolina Lawyers Weekly and Elon Law.
“Chief Justice Mark Martin’s lifetime of legal and judicial service to North Carolina at the highest levels of state government embodies the kind of leadership we expect of members of the Elon Law community,” Bierman said. “Chief Justice Martin is a great public servant, distinguished lawyer and jurist, and exemplar of leadership in our profession. It is only fitting then for Chief Justice Martin to be recognized by Elon Law with the Leadership in Law Award.”
Accepting the Leadership in the Law Award, Chief Justice Martin said he looked forward to collaborating with Bierman and Elon Law, and he reflected on the importance of society’s support for the rule of law. Martin referenced the murders of South African attorney Victoria Mxenge, Russian attorney Stanislav Markelov and Columbian attorney Ricardo Alberto Sierra as evidence of the instability of the rule of law in other nations.
“These sobering examples serve to remind us how fortunate we are to live in a time and place where attorneys and the rule of law are respected,” Martin said. “They also highlight the important role we have as leaders in society to ensure that the public understands and appreciates the multidisciplinary importance of the law. In order to do so it is critical that we protect access to justice for all, promote civics education and make our 21 century courts more transparent and accessible to the public. A properly functioning court system is important not only to our clients and the legal system, but to our society as a whole. We must continue to seek innovative solutions that will ensure access to justice, not just for some, but for all. Our system is impressive and admired around the world, but we know we still have much work to do. Let us continue to be lawyer-leaders in the best sense of that term, using our education and experience to improve society.”
Elon Law’s Leadership in the Law Award recognizes lawyers who make outstanding contributions to the legal profession and to society. Previous recipients of Elon Law’s Leadership in the Law Award include Greensboro attorneys and Elon Law preceptors Mike Marshall and Karen McKeithen Schaede (2011), Guilford County Public Defender Frederick G. Lind (2012) and former North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge Charles L. Becton (2013). Information about Elon Law’s Leadership Program is available here and information about the Leadership in the Law Award is available here.
About Chief Justice Mark Martin
The Honorable Mark Martin is the 28 Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, presiding over both the state’s highest court and the North Carolina Judicial Department. In his 22 year of judicial service, Chief Justice Martin is the only active member of the state judiciary with experience on the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and Superior Court. He has authored hundreds of appellate decisions and participated in thousands of fully briefed and argued cases during his nearly 20-year tenure on the appellate courts.
Chief Justice Martin served as Senior Associate Justice, the second-ranking member of the Supreme Court, from February 2006 until his appointment to Chief Justice on September 1, 2014. When he was elected and installed to fill an open seat on the Supreme Court in 1998, at age 35, he became the youngest Supreme Court Justice in North Carolina history. Martin had previously served on the Court of Appeals beginning in 1994, and as Resident Superior Court Judge in Greenville, N.C., Judicial District 3A, from 1992 to 1994. Prior to his judicial service, Martin served as legal counsel to Governor James G. Martin (no relation), practiced law at the McNair Law Firm in Raleigh and clerked for United States District Judge Clyde H. Hamilton.
Chief Justice Martin is dedicated to strengthening and advancing the rule of law in the State of North Carolina. He is a recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian award in North Carolina. Martin has served in a number of leadership roles within the North Carolina Bar Association, including as its Vice-President and as a member of its Litigation Section Council, Judicial Independence Committee and Strategic Planning and Emerging Trends Committee. He has taught hundreds of law students at the University of North Carolina, Duke University and North Carolina Central University. In 2003, Martin chaired the Commission on the Future of the North Carolina Business Court. He has been a member of the Board of Directors for the Carolina Law Alumni Association and the Wake County Bar Association. Martin has organized and participated in rule of law programming for high school and college students.
Chief Justice Martin has demonstrated his commitment to the rule of law on a national level. He served as Chair of the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association (ABA) during the 2013-2014 leadership cycle. In that capacity he initiated programming in conjunction with the Conference of Chief Justices and the ABA Task Force on the Preservation of the Civil Justice System to facilitate adequate and sustainable funding for state and federal justice systems. Martin previously served as Chair of the Judicial Division’s Appellate Judges Conference. As a member and as Chair of the Appellate Judges Education Institute (AJEI) Board of Directors, Martin worked to support continuing education on a national level for appellate judges, appellate lawyers and appellate court staff attorneys. He chaired the 2008 AJEI Summit in Phoenix, Ariz. He co-chaired the 2009 National Summit on Fair and Impartial State Courts, a collaborative enterprise of the ABA and the National Center for State Courts, in which representatives from 38 jurisdictions participated and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor served as Honorary Host. In November 2011, Martin was inducted into the Warren E. Burger Society of the National Center for State Courts. Only 123 individuals nationally have attained this distinction.
Chief Justice Martin graduated summa cum laude from Western Carolina University. He earned his Juris Doctor, with honors, from the University of North Carolina School of Law. He later earned a Master of Laws in Judicial Process from the University of Virginia School of Law. Martin is married to Kym Lake Martin, the Executive Director of the N.C. Center for Safer Schools. He is the proud father of five children.