Elon Law honors vice chair of U.S. Commission on Civil Rights with leadership award

The Hon. Patricia Timmons-Goodson, a former associate justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as a federal district court judge, received Elon Law’s 2016 Leadership in the Law Award.

The Hon. Patricia Timmons-Goodson
A distinguished North Carolina jurist received Elon University School of Law’s highest professional honor on Sept. 23, 2016, at an annual leadership event led by North Carolina Lawyers Weekly in partnership with Elon Law.

Patricia Timmons-Goodson, a former associate justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court who is now serving as vice chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, received Elon Law’s Leadership in the Law Award during a banquet in Raleigh attended by more than 200 of the state’s top legal leaders, practitioners and scholars.

“The Hon. Patricia Timmons-Goodson embodies everything we value at Elon Law,” Luke Bierman, dean of Elon Law, said in presenting Timmons-Goodson with the award. “As a distinguished jurist who served on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the North Carolina Supreme Court, she has provided leadership in addressing the most pressing social justice issues of our time.

“Her work today remains paramount as we continue to struggle with questions of voting rights, immigration, criminal justice and equal employment opportunities.”

From her earliest role as an assistant prosecutor in Cumberland County to today serving her nation as vice chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, a body to which she was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2014, Timmons-Goodson’s distinguished contributions to the law are highlighted by:

  • This year’s nomination by President Obama to serve as a federal district court judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina
  • Serving as an associate justice on the Supreme Court of North Carolina – the first African-American woman to do so – from 2006 to 2012
  • Serving as an associate judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals from 1997 to 2005
  • Serving as a district court judge for the the Twelfth Judicial District of North Carolina from 1984-1997

“As I live what’s left of my life, I promise you that I will work as hard as I know how to make sure Elon never regrets honoring me with this award,” Timmons-Goodson said in accepting the award. “It is with the rule of law that our state and nation are able to pursue equality, and maintain stability and peace.”

Timmons-Goodson’s accomplished years of public service have been recognized with awards that include the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, Liberty Bell, Appellate Judge of the Year, three honorary degrees, and induction into the North Carolina Women’s Hall of Fame. She also is the recipient of the National Bar Association’s Wiley A. Branton Award and the William R. Davie Award from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Timmons-Goodson is a member of the American Bar Association, the North Carolina Bar Association, and the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers. Ever mindful of the many Americans who lack full awareness of their rights, she co-hosted the “Dimensions of Justice” monthly cable television program from 1993 to 2005, an effort to help educate residents of Fayetteville, North Carolina, about their constitutionally protected freedoms.

She continues today to serve in leadership roles with several nonprofit organizations, including the Guilford College Board of Trustees, the Fayetteville chapter of The Links, Incorporated, and the North Carolina Civil War Center.

Timmons-Goodson is a two-time graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, from which she earned both a bachelor’s and a law degree, as well as an alumna of Duke University Law School’s L.L.M. program. She and her husband, Dr. Ernest J. Goodson, are the proud parents of two grown sons.

In her remarks, Timmons-Goodson called on the lawyer leaders before her to help expand access to civil legal services. Eighty percent of low-income people have trouble affording services that can assist them with issues like foreclosures, child custody cases, and divorces, she said – and the type of leadership on display at the banquet is what she said is needed to give all people access to the law.

Elon Law’s Leadership in the Law Award was presented during North Carolina Lawyers Weekly’s “Leaders in the Law” program that recognized 36 of the state’s most accomplished attorneys for their own leadership in the profession. Elon Law has partnered with North Carolina Lawyers Weekly since the inaugural program in 2011.

Elon Law’s leadership program has been recognized by the American Bar Association for its mission to prepare future lawyers for professional leadership opportunities. The school established its leadership award to honor lawyers who make outstanding contributions to the law and society.

Previous Leadership in the Law Award recipients

Leslie J. Winner (2015), executive director, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation
The Hon. Mark Martin (2014), chief justice, Supreme Court of North Carolina
Charles L. Becton (2013), attorney/judge/higher education leader in North Carolina
Fred Lind (2012), Guilford County public defender
Michael T. Marshall and Karen McKeithen Schaede (2011), Greensboro attorneys and founding Elon Law preceptors

About Elon Law:

Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, North Carolina, is the preeminent school for engaged and experiential learning in law. It integrates traditional classroom instruction with highly experiential full-time residencies-in-practice in a logically sequenced program of transformational professional preparation. Elon Law’s groundbreaking approach is accomplished in 2.5 years, which provides distinctive value by lowering tuition and permitting graduates early entry into their professional careers.

For more information, visit law.elon.edu.