Elon Law program director named an N.C. Legal Legend of Color

Margaret Dudley, who leads Elon Law’s Emergency Legal Services Program, is among four lawyers recognized this year by the North Carolina Bar Association for legacies that represent “ceilings broken for all attorneys who follow in their footsteps and whose impacts on the legal profession are undeniable.”

Attorney Margaret Dudley, founding director of Elon Law’s Emergency Legal Services Program

The founding director of an Elon Law legal program that provides emergency services to victims of domestic violence has been selected by the North Carolina Bar Association for one of its highest professional honors.

Margaret Dudley, supervising attorney of Elon Law’s Emergency Legal Services Program, was one of four attorneys recognized as a 2022 Legal Legend of Color, an annual award bestowed by the NCBA’s Minorities in the Profession Committee.

The NCBA will celebrate Dudley’s contributions to the legal profession during its seventh annual Legal Legends of Color Awards Celebration set to take place June 23 in Winston-Salem as part of the association’s annual meeting.

“This honor gives me cause to carefully reflect on the many reasons why I am at this place in my career,” Dudley said. “I am so humbled to be recognized in a category of lawyers that includes two of my most valued mentors, the late Judge Elreta Alexander Ralston and retired Chief Justice Henry Frye of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, as well as my dear friend, former Judge Karen Bethea-Shields.

“Practicing law is really service to your community with conviction, courage, and an unyielding commitment to the pursuit of justice.”

The Minorities in the Profession Committees established its Legal Legends of Color Award in 2016 to publicly recognize attorneys of color “who have had undeniable impacts on the legal profession and whose legacies represent ceilings broken for all attorneys who follow in their footsteps.”

A native North Carolinian, Dudley attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. for both her undergraduate and law degrees. She soon became the third Black woman to practice law in Guilford County and the first Black woman to hold the position of Deputy County Attorney in Guilford County.

During her tenure with the county, she had the responsibility of representing the Department of Social Services, the Personnel Department, the Guilford County Planning Board, the Register of Deeds’ Office, the Guilford County Child Support Enforcement Office, the Board of Adjustment, and the Guilford County Mental Health Department. She was also Counsel to the Guilford County Board of Adjustment as well as the Mental Health and Social Services Board.

Dudley achieved success as a partner at a private firm in Guilford County before setting out as a solo practitioner in 1994. Her practice has focused on civil litigation with an emphasis on family law.

A longtime educator and mentor to young people, Dudley taught Constitutional Law at N.C. A&T State University for more than two decades before joining Elon Law’s Emergency Legal Services Program as the founding director.

The Emergency Legal Services Program works in conjunction with the Family Justice Centers of Guilford County and Alamance County. Dudley and her team seek to drastically reduce gaps and unmet needs for legal advocacy and support for victims of domestic violence, and they have assisted nearly 5,000 people in crisis since the program was created through a grant by the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission.

Dudley is a member of the Guilford County Association of Black Lawyers and the Greensboro Bar. She has served on several community and civic boards including the United Way, Legal Aid of North Carolina, Guilford County Mental Health and Substance Abuse Board, the Guilford County Board of Adjustment, YWCA, and Hayes Taylor YWCA.

She is also a member of the legal committee of the Alliance for Hope International, the flagship organization for Family Justice Centers. Further, Dudley is a member of the Greensboro Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and has served the sorority at the local, regional, and national levels. She is also a member of the Danville, Virginia chapter of the Links, Inc.

To be eligible for nomination, a person must be:
  • A lawyer of color practicing (or practiced most recently) in North Carolina for at least 15 years;
  • Have had a legal career with a significant impact in North Carolina;
  • Demonstrated a high level of service to his/her local community and/or on an statewide basis; and
  • Be a member in good standing of the North Carolina State Bar (active or inactive)
Joining Dudley in the Class of 2022 are:
  • Judge Ola M. Lewis (posthumously)
  • Attorney Arlinda Locklear
  • Attorney Georgia Lewis

The late Elon Law Dean Emeritus George R. Johnson, Jr., was a member of the NCBA’s Class of 2020 honorees.