North Carolina – August 30, 2017. Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo LLP is proud to announce that Judge Linda Stephens is the recipient of the NC Association of Women Attorney’s 2017 Outstanding Judge of the Year Award.

With this award, Judge Stephens joins a distinct group of women who have been recognized by the NCAWA for their significant contributions to the legal profession in North Carolina and support NCAWA’s mission of promoting the participation of women in the legal profession and advancing the rights and welfare of women under the law.

Judge Stephens currently serves as of counsel in Hedrick Gardner’s Raleigh office. She was presented with the award during the evening banquet at the NCAWA 2017 Capital Conference on August 18, 2017. Chief Judge Linda McGee and Judge Lucy Inman, members of NCAWA’s Judicial Division, presented Judge Stephens with the award during the banquet.

Upon receiving the award Judge Stephens expressed her gratitude for both the award and members of the NCAWA.  “I feel very fortunate to be part of a wonderful organization where I can share this amazing honor with many of my longtime friends and colleagues,” she remarked.

Linda also thanked her grandmother who always stressed the importance of education and instilled in Linda the values that were essential to shaping her life’s accomplishments.

Prior to joining the firm, Judge Stephens served on the North Carolina Court of Appeals from 2006-2016.  During her time as a judge, she earned a reputation of applying the law fairly to everyone. Judge Stephens’ impressive legal experience also includes four years as a Deputy Commissioner at the NC Industrial Commission, and over 20 years of private practice.

While presenting the award, Judge McGee spoke of the many accomplishments that positioned Judge Stephens as a pioneer for women in the legal field. She was the first person in her family to graduate high school and became the first female law clerk to Court of Appeals Judge Fred Hedrick, brother of Hedrick Gardner’s founder, Phil Hedrick.  After serving four years as a Deputy Commissioner at the NC Industrial Commission, she became the first female associate at a Raleigh law firm and five years later she became its first female partner.  She served as the first female president of the NC Association of Defense Attorneys and was the first person to ever receive the highest awards from both the NC Association of Defense Attorneys and the North Carolina Advocates for Justice.

The awards ceremony also highlighted how Linda’s inspirational attitude combined with hard work continues to provide a true example of determination and perseverance for women in the justice system and legal profession.


About The NCAWA
The NCAWA was founded in 1978 by a vibrant group of women attorneys dedicated to speaking out on issues affecting women in North Carolina both within and outside the legal profession.  Today, NCAWA’s volunteer board and lobbyist, in collaboration with local chapters and members across the state, continue the organization’s powerful mission of promoting the participation of women in the legal profession and advancing the rights and welfare of women under the law.  The NCAWA has adopted resolutions to further its mission and goals of promoting and improving the administration of justice, and increasing the effective participation by women in the justice system, in public office, and within the legal profession.  Members are afforded invaluable opportunities to stay informed about state politics through monthly legislative updates and regular calls with the lobbyist during legislative sessions.

In 1998, NCAWA created the Judicial Division to help meet the needs of the increasing number of women judges on the bench in North Carolina. Each spring, the Judicial Division hosts the Women Judges Forum at many of North Carolina’s law schools.  The Women Judges Forum is comprised of female judges from several trial and appellate levels of the North Carolina court system.  The purpose of the forum is to encourage female students to consider the judiciary as a career choice. The judges, mostly from the North Carolina Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, speak candidly about the barriers they faced as they aspired to office and how they overcame them, especially in the days before many women lawyers served on the courts.  The Division also presents a periodic award to the “Outstanding Judge of the Year.” Learn more at


About Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo LLP
Hedrick Gardner is one of the region’s premier law firms serving the needs of the business community. With nearly 100 attorneys located in four offices in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Wilmington, North Carolina, and Columbia, South Carolina, Hedrick Gardner has become the leading law firm for conflict prevention, conflict management and conflict resolution. The firm’s unmatched litigation experience informs and guides the ability to provide efficient yet comprehensive representation that clients deserve. With more than 50 years representing businesses in a wide variety of industries, Hedrick Gardner attorneys take pride in their ability to be immediately responsive to a broad spectrum of legal needs for clients ranging from small and medium size businesses to Fortune 500 companies. For more information please visit:


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