Catharine Arrowood Receives The Advocate’s Award

By Marilyn Forbes

Congratulations to Catharine Biggs Arrowood, the 12th recipient of The Advocate’s Award and the first to receive the award virtually via Zoom presentation, on Friday, June 19, 2020. The Advocate’s Award is presented by the North Carolina Bar Association’s Litigation Section as merited to recognize members who are the “superstars” of our Bar.

The Advocate’s Award recognizes litigators who 1) have the highest ethical standards; 2) have shown great skill and ability as a litigator/trial lawyer and commitment to the very best work product; 3) demonstrate a true commitment of service to clients; 4) demonstrate a respect for and love of the law; 5) are held in the highest regard by both bench and bar; 6 ) are dedicated to the community and the bar with a track record of pro bono or volunteer service; and 7) serve as an example of how to effectively balance both outstanding professional performance and other life endeavors.

Catharine Biggs Arrowood

In Arrowood’s remarks accepting The Advocate’s Award, she stated that “as trial lawyers [we] are well-equipped to challenge and change unfair and unjust laws and to speak out against those who use law or faith as a shield for unjust actions. It is your duty to keep fighting.” As a true mark of her commitment to justice, Arrowood focused her Juneteenth remarks not on herself, but on the life and career of George Henry White, “a North Carolina trial lawyer who would have received this award if he had been born in this century.” She noted that Mr. White was admitted to the North Carolina bar in 1879, was the first Black prosecutor in the United States, and was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1897. While in Congress, Mr. White introduced anti-lynching legislation and bills to obtain parity for Black Americans serving in the United States military. With the passage of the first Jim Crow laws in North Carolina, Mr. White did not return to Congress or to North Carolina, but spent his life “being a force for change by becoming involved in numerous lawsuits challenging the disenfranchisement laws across the South.” You can read her full remarks here.

Arrowood is a model of all that is right with our profession. In her years of practice, Arrowood has excelled both in her dedicated representation of her clients and her unfailing service to the law and bar. She is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers. She co-chaired the North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law & Justice (NCCALJ), conducting a comprehensive review of North Carolina’s court system. She has served as President of the North Carolina Bar Association, the Tenth Judicial District Bar, and the Wake County Bar Association. Arrowood has also been a leader in North Carolina’s business community, serving as chair of the North Carolina Symphony Board of Directors, and serving on the Board of Directors for Rex Healthcare, Inc., and other boards.

Arrowood has also served as a role model and mentor to younger lawyers. Bahati Mutisya, an associate with Parker Poe, noted that Arrowood “is not only a wonderful advocate for her clients, but also an advocate for the next generation of lawyers.”

Past winners of the Advocate’s Award include: Ted Fillette (2018), Janet Ward Black (2017), Bill Womble Jr. (2016), James E. Ferguson II (2015), A. Ward McKeithen (2013), Charlie Blanchard (2012), Alan W. Duncan (2011), James T. Williams Jr. (2010), Grady Barnhill (2009), Don Cowan Jr. (2007) and Charles Becton (2006).