Janet Ward Black's 2010 Anniversaries: Miss North Carolina 1980 and 1985 Duke Law Graduation
GREENSBORO, NC - For Greensboro attorney Janet Ward Black, 2010 marks the anniversary of two important and remarkable events in her life. Thirty years ago in June, Black was named Miss North Carolina 1980, an amazing experience that connected her with people across the state. Five years later she received her law degree from Duke University.
"I knew at the time that these events would be absolutely life-shaping for me," Black said, "but little did I realize how these two experiences would come together in such a meaningful way."
Being named Miss North Carolina 1980 played a key role for Black as she considered her options for the future. "Ten thousand dollars in scholarship money was a really big deal for a girl pursuing her law degree," she said. "It meant I was on my way to school."
Aside from the money, Black claims the opportunity to travel across the state, conduct ribbon cuttings, participate in small-town parades and meet people from all walks of life was the real win. "I knew a lot about this state before becoming Miss North Carolina," she said, "but that year I came to appreciate the people and the culture like never before. I learned so much."
She took these lessons to Duke University School of Law, where she honed her craft and discovered her passion for helping people through the legal profession. After completing her degree in 1985, Black served as the first female Assistant District Attorney for Cabarrus and Rowan Counties (1985-1988). Today, Black is the Principal of Ward Black Law in Greensboro, NC, a personal injury and workers' compensation firm.
Black has not forgotten the lessons she learned as she travelled across the state in 1980. While president of the NC Bar Association in 2008, Black spearheaded the "4ALL Campaign," a statewide effort providing free legal advice to North Carolina citizens for a day. "There are so many people in our state who simply can't afford the justice they deserve," she said. "The 4ALL initiative gives attorneys an opportunity to stand in the gap, even if only for a day."
The first of its kind in North Carolina, the 2008 4ALL Campaign fielded more than 6,500 phone calls. The event has been an "annual rally" of sorts for attorneys statewide. In 2010, the third iteration of 4ALL added a dedicated Spanish call center. In three years the 4ALL initiative has enabled more than 20,100 North Carolinians to talk to a lawyer for free.
The North Carolina State Bar presented Black with the Distinguished Service Award in January, recognizing her exemplary service to the legal profession. She is also the 2010 recipient of Duke Law School's Charles S. Murphy Award, honoring a graduate's commitment to the common good through his or her work in public service or dedication to education.
"I feel incredibly blessed to have had these amazing opportunities," Black said. "I'm in a state I love doing work I love."
Ward Black Law is a personal injury and workers' compensation firm in Greensboro, NC. The firm employs more than 20 people and is active in the local and global community through service projects and mission outreaches. Ward Black Law can be found at: www.WardBlackLaw.com
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