McGuireWoods partner Cheri Beasley, an accomplished jurist and the first African American woman to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, has announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate. She will seek the Democratic nomination in 2022 for the seat held by Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, who is not seeking re-election.
Beasley joined McGuireWoods’ litigation practice in Raleigh in January 2021 after serving for eight years on the state’s highest court. Gov. Roy Cooper appointed Beasley Chief Justice in March 2019.
As head of the state’s Judicial Branch, Beasley 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. Beasley implemented the Judicial Branch’s first parental leave policy. She also launched North Carolina’s Faith and Justice Alliance, bringing together legal and religious leaders to address the legal needs of those living in poverty.
“Cheri Beasley is a trailblazer whose passion for public service and dedication to equal justice inspires us all,” said J. Tracy Walker IV, McGuireWoods’ managing partner. “We were honored when she joined McGuireWoods in January after a distinguished career on the bench. We are proud to call her our friend and colleague. While we do not want to lose her so soon after she joined us, we know that she will serve the citizens of North Carolina well if elected, and we are proud that she is once again answering the call of public service in declaring her candidacy for the U.S. Senate.”
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. By boldly speaking out, Beasley’s leadership inspired other chief justices and state high courts across the country to speak out against racial injustice.
“As a judge and as Chief Justice of North Carolina’s Supreme Court, Cheri Beasley was a tireless advocate for an independent, fair and accessible justice system that works for everyone,” said McGuireWoods Chairman Jonathan Harmon. “We have benefited greatly from her wisdom and insight in her short time at McGuireWoods and wish her the very best in her campaign.”
Beasley has won two statewide elections — one to the state Supreme Court where she served eight years and one to the North Carolina Court of Appeals where she served four years. She served for a decade as a judge in the state’s Twelfth Judicial District, Cumberland County. 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 also has traveled nationwide and abroad to promote the rule of law and the administration of justice.
Beasley graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law and Douglass College of Rutgers University. She earned a master of laws degree in judicial studies from Duke University School of Law. She has held several leadership roles and served on committees in the American Bar Association and the North Carolina Bar Association to promote access to legal services. Beasley has received numerous awards and honorary doctorates for distinguished leadership and public service.