RALEIGH, N.C. — Poyner Spruill LLP was privileged to have prominent involvement in the Bicentennial Gala at the Raleigh Convention Center honoring the 200th anniversary of the North Carolina Supreme Court. More than 500 individuals, including many of the esteemed leaders from the state’s legal community, were in attendance.

At the private event, Poyner Spruill partner Thomas Davis served as emcee and received the Friend of the Court Award, while p.s.  attorney Cheslie Kryst delivered an address on diversity in the state’s legal community. In addition to her legal work at the firm, Kryst earned the title of Miss USA 2019 this past spring, and she will compete in the upcoming MISS UNIVERSE® competition.

The gala offered a chance to celebrate North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley — the first African-American woman to serve as chief justice for the state’s Supreme Court and only the fourth in the country. Kryst opened her speech talking about what the legal community in the state used to look like and the strides that have been made to improve and maintain diversity, including at her own firm.

“When it came to diversifying our ranks, it wasn’t up to the black attorney to fix it; it wasn’t up to the females to figure things out; the firm itself understood that this was an issue we needed to solve together,” said Kryst. For two years she moderated a panel on diversification organized by P.S. during Black History Month, during which she, “looked into the audience and saw faces of white people and people of color, learning and listening together.”

During the ceremony, Beasley also took the stage and surprised Davis with the Friend of the Court Award, the highest honor North Carolina’s judicial branch gives out. Davis currently serves as the President of the North Carolina Supreme Court Historical Society’s Board of Trustees.

“I’m honored to have been recognized in this manner,” said Davis, who also served as the chair for the Bicentennial Gala. “To be able to share that moment with so many peers whom I respect and admire was a special opportunity. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to serve the historical society, and I’m thankful to all who helped make this event a truly memorable night for North Carolina’s legal community.”

In addition, p.s. partner Saad Gul was re-elected to the North Carolina Supreme Court Historical Society’s Board of Trustees for another term.

About the Attorneys

Tom Davis regularly represents owners, design professionals, and contractors on construction-related issues and workplace safety. He has more than 30 years of experience in the litigation and arbitration of complex cases and advises clients on legal matters including construction contract negotiation, claims analysis and presentation, labor and OSHA disputes, professional licensing disputes, and land condemnation.

Saad Gul co-chairs Poyner Spruill’s privacy and cybersecurity team, while also maintaining an active appellate and regulatory litigation practice. Before law school, he clerked for Chief Judge John C. Martin of the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson of the North Carolina Supreme Court. He came to Poyner Spruill after working for two major Washington, D.C., law firms.

Cheslie Kryst is a member of Poyner Spruill’s litigation team and concentrates her practice in complex civil litigation. She represents clients in a wide range of challenges including government-related disputes, constitutional litigation, professional malpractice claims, and construction disputes. In 2019, she earned the title of Miss USA. In addition, she runs her own fashion blog entitled White Collar Glam and supports the nonprofit organization Dress for Success, which “empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.”

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