An Independent Profession

A Centennial History of the Mecklenburg County Bar

Authors Marion Ellis and Howard Covington have teamed up again, this time to celebrate the centennial of the Mecklenburg County Bar. Their combined take on its history is one that lawyers and non-lawyers alike will find compelling as it sheds light not only on one community and its attorneys, but on the profession and the nation as a whole. 

An Independent Profession begins long before the first formal organization of the local bar. It traces a two hundred forty-three year story from one lawyer and a one-room log courthouse in a frontier colonial backwater through the legal profession’s role in shaping, and in turn being shaped by, the growth of a community to its present-day role in the affairs of a major American city. And it tells this story against the backdrop of the political, economic and social evolution of the community, the state and nation. It moves from a duel between two eighteenth-century historical figures (both attorneys) to personal correspondence between a judge and a lawyer, looking back at the end of bitterly contested litigation that created a national model for dealing with racial segregation in public schools. It covers the 1920s controversy over Darwinsim and the struggles over labor unionism in the South, climaxed by the Loray Mill murder trial that attracted the attention of the nation.

Marion Ellis

A former newspaper writer, Marion A. Ellis was a member of The Charlotte Observer team which won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. A graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School, he also attended UNC-Chapel Hill on a Ford Foundation fellowship

Howard Covington

Howard E. Covington, Jr. of Greensboro, N.C., is a former journalist who has written more than twenty works of history and biography. Earlier collaborations with Marion A. Ellis include The Story of NationsBank (1993), a biography of former governor and U. S. senator Terry Sanford. 

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