Lawyer of the Year Mike McIntyre's career shaped by public service.


Byline: Teri Saylor

At a young age Mike McIntyre decided to dedicate his life and career to public service, and before the age of 40 he had won election to the U.S. House of Representatives representing the (then) 7th Congressional District, in the southeastern corner of the state that included his hometown of Lumberton.

"When I ran for Congress, I had never run for any public office, local or state, before, but through my involvement in my church, civic organizations, my community and my profession, I had built a coalition of support by doing positive things for my hometown," he said.

McIntyre, a partner at Poyner Spruill of Raleigh, is North Carolina Lawyers Weekly's 2019 Lawyer of the Year and was recognized at the Leadership in the Law banquet on October 25.

McIntyre, 63, grew up in Lumberton, where his father served on the city council, including as mayor pro tem, and he learned what politics were like locally and how local elected officials enacted measures that affected residents' everyday lives. He excelled in school and was elected student body president during his senior year at Lumberton High School.

In 1973, as a rising senior in high school, he participated in the student leadership program, Washington Workshops Congressional Seminar. He had never met the two U.S. Senators from North Carolina, so one day on a free afternoon he went up to Capitol Hill to meet them.

McIntyre first visited his local congressman, Charlie Rose, for whom he interned the following year, and then wandered over to the Senate office buildings to meet Senator Sam Ervin. He found Ervin presiding over the Watergate hearings. The experience had a profound effect on McIntyre.

"I was standing in the hearing room when White House Counsel John Dean testified against the President," he said. "My friends were turned off by that, believing politics were dirty and corrupt, but it had the opposite effect on me. I thought if honest people don't get involved, then the bad guys would be left to run government."

McIntyre went on to major in political science as a Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1978. He received his law degree from the UNC School of Law and while in law school he served as one of North Carolina's youngest delegates at the 1980 Democratic National Convention.

After law school, McIntyre returned to Lumberton to practice law and start a family. He could have gone anywhere to practice law...

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