RALEIGH, N.C.—Womble Carlyle legend Grady Barnhill was honored posthumously by a statewide committee that promotes professionalism among North Carolina judges, lawyers and law students.

Barnhill was named a recipient of the 2016 Chief Justice’s Professionalism Award by the North Carolina Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism. N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin presented the awards at a Jan. 25th joint dinner of the N.C. State Bar and the N.C. Bar Association.


Barnhill spent more than 50 years as a Womble Carlyle litigation attorney, and spearheaded some of the highest profile cases in firm history. This included the landmark Piedmont Aviation litigation following a fatal 1967 airplane crash. For the first time in U.S. history, all cases arising from a major air crash were settled simultaneously.

In 2009, Barnhill was honored by the North Carolina Bar Association with the Litigation Section Advocate’s Award, the highest honor a litigation attorney in the state can receive. Three years later, the North Carolina State Bar awarded him the John B. McMillan Distinguished Service Award. He passed away in November 2014 at the age of 84.

Other 2016 Chief Justice’s Professionalism Award winners were former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justices Rhoda Billings and Henry Frye. This award is presented annually to an individual or organization whose contributions have demonstrated the highest commitment to genuine professionalism and the highest standards of legal ethics.