Smith Anderson celebrates partner Caryn Coppedge McNeill as she begins her tenure as the 123rd President of the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA). She will assume her new role on Saturday, June 24, at the NCBA’s annual meeting in Asheville.
Caryn is the fifth Smith Anderson partner to have served as president of the NCBA, following most recently Martin H. Brinkley (2011-12) and John L. Jernigan (1999-2000).
Caryn has an extensive record of service within the NCBA. She chaired the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) in 1999-2000, after serving in a variety of YLD roles, including as American Bar Association (ABA) YLD District 9 representative. She served on the NCBA Board of Governors in 2001-02, is a former member of the Tax Section Council, and has chaired the Lawyer Effectiveness & Quality of Life Committee and the Pro Bono Strategic Planning Task Force.
In 2007-08, Caryn co-chaired the NCBA’s inaugural “4ALL” Campaign, a day in which attorneys across the state volunteer their time to take phone calls from the public and offer pro bono legal advice. In 2009, the 4ALL Campaign received the ABA’s Harrison Tweed Award, and it has been replicated in multiple states across the country.
As NCBA President, Caryn intends to increase opportunities for pro bono services in North Carolina by launching the ABA’s Free Legal Answers program statewide during the 2017-2018 bar year. Free Legal Answers is a virtual, web-based legal advice clinic available to lower-income members of the public. An attractive alternative to providing services by phone, participants post their civil legal questions to the Free Legal Answers web portal and receive responses from attorney volunteers.
“The need for pro bono services in North Carolina has never been greater. Currently, the legal needs of more than 80 percent of the 2.2 million citizens who qualify for legal services, including veterans, victims of domestic violence and senior citizens, go unmet. Access to lawyers impacts outcomes, and it is foundational to trust and confidence in our legal system. It imperative that we do everything in our power to help,” Caryn said.
“The NCBA is a community where attorneys come together to make a difference for our profession and the public,” said Caryn. “This year, we will redouble our efforts to be ‘a power for great good’ in our State.”
Caryn has practiced her entire career at Smith Anderson, joining the firm in 1991 after receiving her undergraduate degree from Davidson College and her law degree from the Duke University School of Law. She was named Partner in 1999 and soon after was elected to serve on the firm’s policy and planning committee, a position she held until 2006. She now leads the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice Group, which has consistently received the highest ranking from U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” since 2010. A significant part of her practice is devoted to counseling and negotiating on behalf of clients in connection with mergers and acquisitions.