John B. McMillan Distinguished Service Award Recipient: Shelby Duffy Benton

Chelsea, a white woman with wavy brown hair, wears a black dress with small white dots.By Chelsea Gajewski

The John B. McMillan Distinguished Service Award honors current and retired members of the North Carolina State Bar throughout the state who have demonstrated exemplary service to the legal profession. Members of the Bar nominate colleagues who they feel have demonstrated service to the profession. The criteria to be selected for this award includes, but is not limited to, furthering the public’s understanding of and confidence in the law and justice system; devoting time to leadership to ensure equal access to our justice system; pro bono work to those who have limited meals; and treating opposing counsel with courtesy and respect. You can learn more about this award on the North Carolina State Bar’s website.

On September 29, 2022, Shelby Duffy Benton received the John B. McMillian Distinguished Service Award. Shelby has an impressive resume, which includes a wide variety of accolades and experience, predominately in the field of family law. She opened up her own firm (Hollowell and Benton, PA) in 1991, and four years later, became a Board Certified Specialist in family law and has remained certified since then. Additionally, Shelby is a certified family and financial mediator as well as a fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

Throughout her legal career, she has been heavily involved in the North Carolina Bar Association. From past president of the NCBA to chair of the Family Law Section, she has worn a variety of hats in the Bar where she demonstrated her ability to lead and support her colleagues as well as the bar.

Shelby has not only been actively involved with the NCBA’s Family Law Section but also is a member of the State Bar Ethics Committee, the Paralegal Certification Board and vice-chair and trustee of the IOLTA Board for the State Bar.

Shelby’s dedication to her community extends beyond the bar as well. She serves North Carolina and her community as a commissioner on the North Carolina Domestic Violence Commission, and she has supported her local Communities Supporting Schools Program for several years, where she developed a Teen and Attorney Partnership for Success (TAPS) program for high school students to have countywide mock trial competitions and much more.

Receiving the John B. McMillan Distinguished Service Award is not the first time Shelby has been recognized for her outstanding and impressive accomplishments. She has been recognized by the NCBA for her service to her community and the legal profession when she received a Citizen Lawyer Award in 2012. She received the first County Women of the Year Award from the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, as well as other awards.

Shelby is known by her peers as someone who is supportive and kind. She also believes that in order to be a good attorney, you need to be a good person, which is one of the reasons she has strived to become a well-rounded professional in different areas of this field. Vice-chair of the NCBA Family Law Section, Jill Jackson, conducted an interview with Shelby in which Shelby shares her insight, motivation and advice to our field. You can listen to that interview below.

Shelby was also recognized for receiving this award in The North Carolina State Bar Journal, Winter 2022 issue, and the article can be found on page 46.

Please congratulate Shelby in winning this distinguished award and for all that she does for this community.