Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP has honored nine of the firm’s attorneys with the 2022 Womble Bond Dickinson Distinguished Service Awards. The biannual awards honor career achievement to clients, community, colleagues and the principles upon which the US justice system is based.

“The Womble Bond Dickinson Distinguished Service Awards are a time to honor the service of those who have come before us. To recognize the service of our outstanding colleagues today. And, hopefully, to inspire the next generation of Womble Bond Dickinson attorneys to reach for even greater heights in however they choose to serve. Congratulations to all of this year’s honorees!” said Betty Temple, Chair/CEO of Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP.

The 2022 Womble Bond Dickinson Distinguished Service Award winners were honored at a March 30 hybrid virtual/in-person ceremony. Former Firm Managing Partner Keith Vaughan was on hand to present Ellen Gregg with the Keith W. Vaughan Award for Leadership.

William F. Womble award for service to the Bar

Recipients: Edward Griggs and James Weatherholtz

For more than a century, Womble Bond Dickinson has been a devoted supporter of the North Carolina Bar Association. B.S. Womble and Irving Carlyle led the NCBA in the 1930s and ‘40s and today, Edward Griggs continues this tradition of service to the legal profession through a dedicated track record of leadership in the NCBA, including serving on the organization’s Board of Governors as well as being a former Chair of the NCBA’s Estate Planning & Fiduciary Law Section.

James Weatherholtz started giving back to his profession on the local level, volunteering to serve on the Charleston County Bar Association’s Executive Committee. He then served the South Carolina Bar in a number of leadership roles. He also became active at the national level by serving the American Bar Association’s Forum on the Construction Industry in various leadership positions. James recently completed a term as Product Liability Committee Chair for DRI, the Voice of the Defense Bar. The Product Liability Committee is one of DRI’s largest and most active sections. During the challenges of the pandemic, James kept the Committee active and engaged.

Irving Carlyle Pro Bono Publico Award

Recipient: Dan Ovanezian

Perhaps the greatest calling in the legal profession is when attorneys use their talents to selflessly assist others. Dan Ovanezian has done just that, employing his skills as a patent practitioner to help financially under-resourced inventors and small businesses protect their hard-earned IP. What’s more, Dan is an ambassador for pro bono service who has recruited many other attorneys into pro bono service.

W.P. Sandridge Award for Service to the Firm

Recipient: Mike Barnhill 

For years, Womble Bond Dickinson had one of the legal industry’s best GCs in Mike Barnhill. He guided the firm through many challenging legal, business and ethics issues—including the transatlantic combination that created the current firm. Mike put his personal practice on hold because Womble needed him. He embodies the spirit of Service to the Firm that this award was created to honor.

Leon L. Rice Jr. Award for Service to the Community

Recipient: Press Millen

Womble Bond Dickinson attorneys contribute to their communities every day. Press Millen has set a standard for community service, helping improve the lives of others in a wide variety of ways over the course of his career. For example, Press has stepped up to provide pro bono service in numerous cases in which voting rights are at risk. He brings his considerable skill as a litigator to bear in defense of the fundamental right to vote. 

Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award

Recipient: Kevin Lyn

Kevin Lyn has worked tirelessly to make the firm, and the legal profession in general, more diverse, equitable and inclusive places. He is the long-time Chair of Womble’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. Under his leadership, Womble greatly expanded its already active diversity program, launching new initiatives to reach LGBTQ employees and engage with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

H. Grady Barnhill, Jr. Award for Service to Clients

Recipient: Dean Rutley and Stephanie Yarbrough

Clients look to Dean Rutley to get deals done. Whether it’s guiding an IT company in acquiring multiple companies throughout Europe or helping a long-time FinTech client complete the biggest deal in company history, clients rely on Dean’s wise counsel. And they come back to him time and time again to help with their most important business transactions. Part of Dean’s successful approach to client service involves mentoring young attorneys to uphold the same high standards and work collaboratively to achieve client goals. As a long-time competitive rower, Dean knows we can accomplish much more working as a team than we can alone.

Economic development is all about relationships—and in South Carolina economic development circles, no one has built stronger connections than Stephanie Yarbrough. How strong? When the New York Times wrote about Charleston’s success in recruiting jobs and investment, Stephanie was the lawyer they turned to for insight. When South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster spoke about the state’s economic development achievements in his State of the State address, he mentioned Stephanie’s contributions by name. Some of Stephanie’s strongest professional relationships are with her clients, who trust her with their mission-critical expansion and relocation projects.

Keith W. Vaughan Award for Leadership

Recipient: Ellen Gregg

Ellen Gregg joined the firm in 1987 and last month, she announced her retirement from full-time practice. In the interim, she established a track record of leadership that will benefit Womble Bond Dickinson for many decades to come.

Ellen served as the Vice Chair of the firm during the transatlantic combination that created Womble Bond Dickinson. She also has served on the FMC and Executive Committee, Chaired the Professionalism and Recruiting Committees and was instrumental in our professional development and ethics initiatives.

But while her firm leadership has been extensive, her involvement extends beyond Womble. She has contributed greatly to the successes of the United Way of Forsyth County, Habitat for Humanity, the American Heart Association and Elon University School of Law, just as she has contributed to our firm.