41st Annual Bankruptcy Institute Awards Recognize Recipients for Outstanding Achievement and Service

Every year, the Bankruptcy Section Lifetime Achievement Award Committee and the Bankruptcy Section Pro Bono Committee are tasked with the privilege of selecting an attorney to receive their respective awards. The awards are presented at the Annual Bankruptcy Institute, so the recipients may be recognized by their peers for their outstanding commitment and service to the profession.

The Lifetime Achievement Award

Walter W. “Wrennie” Pitt of Winton-Salem recently became the 8th recipient of the North Carolina Bar Association Bankruptcy Section’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented last month in conjunction with the section’s 41st Annual Bankruptcy Institute in Pinehurst.

“I was very honored and proud to be included in the group of lawyers who have received this award over the last few years,” Pitt said. “To be included in that select group is very humbling.”

“What made receiving the award so special,” Pitt added, “is being with the prior recipients. I have been involved on the committee that selects the recipients, and John Bircher had all of them who were in attendance come up front.” That group included Buzzy Stubbs, Dick Hutson, Billy Brewer, Christy Myatt, Al Durham, and Dave Badger. Only John Northen, who had a previous commitment, was not in attendance.

“Wrennie Pitt is one of the foundational building blocks of the Bankruptcy Section,” said John Bircher, who presented the award in his capacity as chair of the Lifetime Achievement Award Committee. Bircher is also a past chair of the section.

“Wrennie was the first chair of the Lifetime Achievement Award Committee,” Bircher added, “and that is where I really got to know him. His tireless efforts to improve and continuously support the bankruptcy bar and its members have not gone unnoticed, and it is most appropriate that he receive this award in recognition of those and countless other contributions.” Pitt has been involved in the debtor-creditor field for most of his career, has served as an adjunct professor of law at Wake Forest University School of Law, where he taught debtor-creditor relations, and is a past chair of the NCBA Bankruptcy Section. He is also a former vice president of the NCBA Board of Governors, and his wife and law partner, Elizabeth Repetti, currently serves in that same capacity.

“I am very proud of Elizabeth being on the Board of Governors,” Pitt said. “She has also been chair of the Bankruptcy Section and is committed to the bar association. I am proud of her and her accomplishments.”

Pitt has spent most of his career with Bell, Davis & Pitt, which he founded along with Bill Davis and Frank Bell in 1980. The firm has since grown from three lawyers to thirty-five lawyers with offices in Winston-Salem and Charlotte. Pitt is a native of Rocky Mount, where he attended Rocky Mount Senior High and was a member of the 1962 North Carolina High School Athletic Association State 4-A championship football team. He attended University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a football scholarship and graduated in 1967. Pitt is a 1971 graduate of the Wake Forest University School of Law.

The Outstanding Achievement in Pro Bono Award

Each year, the Pro Bono Committee for the Bankruptcy Section reviews several incredible nominations for the Outstanding Achievement in Pro Bono Award and, each year, it is that Committee’s privilege to honor one member of our section with this distinction at the Annual Institute.

The award is intended to foster and recognize the outstanding pro bono efforts undertaken by Bankruptcy Section members during the year. Self and third-party nomination are both accepted, and nominees must be North Carolina Bar Association Bankruptcy Section members.

This year’s award winner, Michael Martinez, received his JD from the University of North Carolina School of Law. Michael is a Lawyer on the Line volunteer and has provided many hours over the last year to that program. In addition, he was a member of the NCBA YLD Pro Bono and Poverty Issues committee and a member of the NCBA YLD Project Grace Committee. He also volunteered his time to various mentorship programs, as well as the Wills for Heroes program.

In 2016, Michael was recognized as a member of the Supreme Court of North Carolina Pro Bono Society, which requires 50 hours or more of pro bono service in the year.

Michael is an attorney with Grier Furr Crisp in Charlotte and is certainly deserving of this great honor. Michael is the fourth recipient of the Pro Bono Award, joining other outstanding members of our Section including Matt Crow (2017), Jennifer Bennington (2016) and Ciara Rogers (2015). The nomination form for the 2019 award will be circulated in September 2019 and the winner will be honored in New Bern, North Carolina during the annual meeting.

This post was prepared with the input and assistance of the Lifetime Achievement Award and Pro Bono Committees.