In a special edition of North Carolina Lawyers Weekly (NCLW), Smith Anderson partners Rose Kenyon and Caryn McNeill were honored with the publication’s prestigious 2019 “Women of Justice” awards. Now in its seventh year, the Women of Justice awards recognize women across the state of North Carolina who have demonstrated leadership, integrity, service, sacrifice and accomplishment in improving the quality of justice and exemplifying the highest ideals of the legal profession.
In the article, Rose credits her parents with instilling in her a strong sense of empathy for the difficult plight of others. When it comes to justice in society, Rose believes that lawyers have an obligation to ensure that our society has a court system that works, laws that are fair, judges who rule with integrity and independence, and lawyers who are accessible to the people who need them. For Rose, “Justice means all people have equal opportunities and access to food, shelter, education, employment, healthcare, freedom and happiness.”
“I feel lucky to be able to practice law and help clients solve some of their most difficult or sensitive problems,” Rose says. “I am also excited about working on the boards of wonderful nonprofit organizations that provide educational and other critical services to people in need.”
Rose’s practice involves working with companies and executives on strategic employment and labor law matters, including those arising in mergers and acquisitions. She is a frequent speaker on emerging employment and labor law trends and regularly conducts training for human resources professionals and executive management. Rose also chairs the firm’s Pro Bono Committee encouraging lawyers to provide pro bono legal services to individuals with limited access through Legal Aid and other organizations, and to promote service to the community. Rose is active in professional and community organizations, and has served in leadership with several nonprofits, including on the Board of Governors and Chair of the Women in the Profession Committee for the North Carolina Bar Association.
Caryn McNeill also received this prestigious award. Having served as the 123rd president of the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA) in 2017-2018, Caryn firmly believes women have more leadership opportunities now than ever before.
“I know more and more organizations that now have had enough female leaders that they have lost count of how many there have been, and I love that,” Caryn says. “I’m interested in data showing how an organization benefits when women make up a significant percentage of its leaders, from enhanced financial performance to improved decision-making. That’s exciting and affirming.”
When it comes to justice, Caryn states, “The most critical issue facing our society related to justice is access to legal services. I have seen the very real difference Legal Aid lawyers make in the lives of our fellow citizens.” She adds, “I am proud of the various pro bono projects sponsored by the North Carolina Bar Foundation which mobilize lawyers to be a power of greater good for the people of North Carolina.”
Caryn has served on the Legal Aid of North Carolina board of directors and her extensive record of service and leadership within the NCBA includes the creation of two programs that expand access to legal services for low-income people. During her tenure as president, the North Carolina Bar Foundation adopted NC Free Legal Answers, a virtual legal advice clinic, connecting citizens in need with volunteer attorneys through a web-based platform. To date, this new program has provided assistance to citizens in 98 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Caryn also previously co-chaired the NCBA’s inaugural “4ALL” Service Day. Now in its 12th year, this annual statewide call-a-lawyer program engages over 500 attorneys in providing free legal information to almost 10,000 North Carolinians in a single day. 4ALL received the ABA’s Harrison Tweed Award and has been replicated in multiple states across the country.
Caryn serves on Smith Anderson’s Policy and Planning Committee and leads the firm’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation practice. She regularly advises public and private companies on all aspects of the design, implementation and administration of employee benefit plans and executive compensation arrangements. A significant part of her practice is devoted to counseling and negotiating on behalf of clients in connection with mergers and acquisitions.
To view all honorees of the 2019 Women of Justice awards, click here.