Law Community Celebrates Career, Achievements of Professor Robinson Everett

Main Content

Colleagues, friends and other law professionals from across the country recently paid tribute to Duke Law Professor Robinson Everett ’59 for his five decades of distinguished service to the legal profession. Those accolades came at a reception on Aug. 10, held in conjunction with a meeting of the American Bar Association in San Francisco.

Speakers at the event praised Everett for his work as chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, his teaching in the field of national security law, his founding of the Law School’s Center on Law, Ethics and National Security and his service to clients and students as well as a vast array of organizations including the ABA, the Federal Bar Association and the North Carolina Bar Association.

Everett group
From left, Jonie Pritchard, Professor Robinson Everett '59, Llewelyn Pritchard '61 and Lynn Everett

“I generally describe [Everett] as a renaissance lawyer,” said A.P. Carlton, who completed his term as president of the ABA that week. “He has done it all, and it’s hard to pick an area of the law where he has not built into it and has been absolutely and completely outstanding. He is a tremendous role model for all of us in North Carolina.”

James Coleman, Duke Law’s senior associate dean for academic affairs and professor of the practice of law, praised Everett as an example of the School’s aspirations for faculty and students. “Robbie has been both a teacher and a mentor for the faculty, he is a teacher and a mentor for the students, and I think that his career exemplifies what we are trying to accomplish at the Law School,” Coleman said. “There is an expression that those who can, do, those who can’t, teach,” he added. “But I think that needs to be modified to: Those who do and teach, teach at Duke.”

Dean Katharine Bartlett noted that Everett left a profound mark on the military court during his decade-long tenure. “Robinson is treasured in bringing much needed stability, clarity and cooperation to a court that had known its share of turmoil,” she said. “In the eyes of many observers, he is titled among the greatest judges ever to serve on that court.”

Llewelyn Pritchard ’61, who co-hosted the event with Dean Bartlett, noted that Everett is part of a family of great lawyers that has long worked with the ABA. “Robbie is the product of a marriage that began its first courtship on a boat going from New York to London for the 1924 meeting of the American Bar Association,” said Pritchard, who was a student of Everett’s in the early 1960s. “The Everett family…was always present at every ABA function, contributing to the general good of the profession not only in their homestead of North Carolina, but the national as well.”

Everett, who continues to teach, travel and lecture, said he was moved by the tribute. “I’m overwhelmed; I’m almost speechless,” he said. “I want to say how lucky I feel to be a member of a Law School faculty that I think is truly outstanding. I’m very grateful to the wonderful students that I’ve had at Duke and continue to have — it makes teaching a thrill for me. I hope it’s somewhat of a thrill for the students, but it’s a great thrill for me.”