Thomas C. Watkins Receives the Business Law Section’s Distinguished Service Award

Andrew, a white man with brown hair, wears a white shirt, red tie and black suit.By Andrew Steffensen

Thomas C. Watkins recently received the North Carolina Bar Association Business Law Section’s highest honor, its Distinguished Service Award. The NCBA presents the Distinguished Service Award to recognize extraordinary service to the Business Law Section, the legal profession and the public.

In making the nomination, April Kight said of her colleague, “Tom Watkins is a wonderful teacher and leader. He is an excellent lawyer and advocate for his clients, with the best combination of knowledge and practical application. He has given much of his time to the management of our firm, the North Carolina Bar Association and the community. I can’t think of a more deserving recipient.”

Mr. Watkins is a past member of the Board of Governors of the NCBA and served as Chair of the Bar Association’s Business Law Section when that organization launched NC LEAP, now known as the Entrepreneurs Assistance Program. Under this initiative, NCBA members volunteer their time and expertise to support low-wealth entrepreneurs.

Tom, a white man with white hair, wears a pale grey shirt and dark grey suit and holds the dark blue Business Law Award.

Thomas C. Watkins

In addition to his active engagement with the NCBA, he has served the community and the state in many leadership roles. He is a past member of the Board of Visitors of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a past member of the Board of Directors of the Greensboro Sports Council, a member of the Board of Directors of the Piedmont Triad Charitable Foundation (Wyndham Championship/PGA Tour Event), a past member of the Boards of Visitors of UNC Children’s Hospital and UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, a past President of Greensboro Country Club and a member of the Board of Directors of Wheels4Hope.

At Schell Bray PLLC, he is the former chair of the firm’s Executive Committee and focuses his legal practice primarily on closely held businesses and investment vehicles. He has extensive experience in representing investors, borrowers and lenders in a broad range of complex transactions, including debt and equity investments, financings, mergers and acquisitions and restructurings.

In addition to the 2024 Distinguished Service Award, Mr. Watkins’ professional recognition includes:

  • The Best Lawyers in America, named 2023 Piedmont Triad “Lawyer of the Year” in Corporate Law
  • The Best Lawyers in America, named 2013 Greensboro “Lawyer of the Year” in Banking and Finance Law
  • The Best Lawyers in America, listed for banking, finance and corporate law, 2001-2023
  • Business North Carolina, Legal Elite, business law, multiple prior listings
  • North Carolina Super Lawyers, business/corporate law, multiple prior listings
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated

Andrew Steffensen is the chair of the NCBA Business Law Section Communications Committee.