Former Supreme Court of North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley Joins McGuireWoods

Trailblazing Jurist Served Two Decades on Trial and Appeals Courts

January 4, 2021

Cheri Beasley, an accomplished jurist and the first African-American woman to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, has joined McGuireWoods’ litigation practice in Raleigh as a partner and member of the firm’s appellate team.

Beasley joined the state’s highest court in 2012 and was appointed Chief Justice by Gov. Roy Cooper in March 2019. As head of North Carolina’s judicial branch, she initiated reforms to improve efficiency, fairness and accessibility in the state’s court system. Under her leadership, state courts began adoption of electronic filing and cloud computing systems to make court services available remotely and expanded access to specialty treatment and family courts. Chief Justice Beasley also launched North Carolina’s Faith and Justice Alliance, bringing together legal and religious leaders to address the legal needs of low-income residents.

During the summer of 2020, Beasley became the first chief justice in the nation to publicly acknowledge racial disparities in the court system and call for remedying historic inequities in the administration of justice.

“Cheri Beasley is a distinguished jurist who has dedicated her career to ensuring our justice system works for everyone,” said McGuireWoods Managing Partner J. Tracy Walker IV. “Her leadership, wisdom, and experience will be tremendous assets for our appellate and litigation practices and our clients.”

Beasley previously served for nearly four years on the North Carolina Court of Appeals and for a decade as a District Court judge in the state’s 12th Judicial District. Throughout her judicial career, Chief Justice Beasley has advocated for fair, independent, and accessible courts. She has been a guest lecturer on trial and appellate advocacy at the University of North Carolina School of Law and North Carolina Central School of Law. She has traveled nationwide and abroad to promote the rule of law and the administration of justice. She has served on numerous committees with both the American Bar Association and the North Carolina Bar Association to promote access to legal services.

“Chief Justice Beasley is a trailblazer whose passion for the law inspires us all,” said Mary Nash Rusher, managing partner of the firm’s Raleigh office. “We are fortunate to have the benefit of her unique insight as she begins a new chapter at McGuireWoods.”

Beasley is a graduate of The University of Tennessee College of Law and Douglass College of Rutgers University. She earned a Master of Laws in Judicial Studies from Duke University School of Law. She has held several leadership roles in the American Bar Association and the North Carolina Bar Association and received numerous awards for leadership and public service.

“Chief Justice Beasley is highly respected for her intellect, integrity and commitment to the rule of law,” said Dion Hayes, the firm’s deputy managing partner for litigation. “Her perspective enhances our ability to assist clients with significant litigation challenges.”

McGuireWoods’ appellate team is recognized nationally for helping clients attack dangerous losses and defend significant wins at every level of the judiciary. The team includes eight former U.S. Supreme Court clerks and former law clerks from numerous federal and state appeals courts. 

“McGuireWoods’ attorneys are of the highest caliber and the litigation and appellate practices of the firm enjoy a particular reputation for excellence,” Beasley said. “Most importantly, I am excited to join a firm with a deep commitment to strengthening communities through pro bono service and civic engagement.”

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