Joseph P. McGuire of McGuire, Wood & Bissette, has been named a 2014 recipient of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Citizen Lawyer Award. The award was presented at the Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in Wilmington on Friday, June 20, 2014. The Citizen Lawyer Award recognizes attorneys who have provided exemplary service through volunteer work and civic involvement in their communities outside the practice of law.
McGuire is a native of Asheville, North Carolina. After earning his undergraduate degree from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1972 and his law degree from Harvard University in 1975, he practiced for a short time in the Navy JAG Corps. He then took a position in Atlanta, Georgia with a predecessor to the firm now known as Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP. Always knowing that he wanted to return to Asheville, he joined the firm of McGuire, Wood & Bissette, P.A. in 1978. He says he learned from his father, who was one of the firm’s senior partners at the time, and from the other senior partners that public service is part and parcel of being an attorney.
“The benefits from volunteering are immense and varied. There is the satisfaction of making a difference and making your community a better place to live and work,” McGuire says. He also adds that he has met a lot of fine folks from all walks of life that he would probably not have met in his law practice alone. Volunteering has taught him a lot about group dynamics, collaboration, strategic planning, and building consensus.
Within his community, McGuire is currently serving as a member of the Board of Leadership of the Asheville Forum (having previously served as its President); a member of the Advisory Board of Leadership Asheville; Vice President of the Pen and Plate Club; and a member of the Board of Directors of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County. He was also previously Co-Chair of Building Bridges of Asheville, a program to bridge racial gaps in the Asheville community.
In addition, McGuire is passionate about education. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of Brevard College (having previously served as Chair) and will join the Board of Trustees of Lenoir-Rhyne University later this year. In the past, he has been Chair of UNC-Asheville’s Center for Diversity Education; Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Asheville/Buncombe Library System; and a member of the Board of Directors of UNC-Chapel Hill’s General Alumni Association.
Apart from his civic involvement, McGuire is an active member of Central United Methodist Church in Asheville, where he is currently a member of its Board of Trustees. He has held numerous other past positions within the church and has also served as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the WNC Conference of the United Methodist Church.
McGuire’s law practice focuses on business litigation involving contract disputes, corporate governance, trade secrets, insurance coverage, and municipal liability. McGuire, Wood & Bissette, P.A. is the oldest continually practicing law firm in Asheville, tracing its origins back to 1984. Today, the firm continues to engage in a general civil practice with a focus on the business, financial, and litigation needs of its clients.
The Citizen Lawyer Committee of the NCBA Young Lawyers Division, in conjunction with the NCBA Citizen Lawyer Committee, provides expanded coverage of the 2014 Citizen Lawyer Awards in recognition of their volunteer service and leadership in their communities and beyond.
Story written by Nathan A. Chrisawn, an attorney at Wyatt Early Harris Wheeler LLP in High Point.