2012 Winner and Finalists


The ABA YLD National Outstanding Young Lawyer Award is presented annually to recognize a young lawyer who exhibits professional excellence, service to the profession and the bar, service to the community, and/or a reputation for the advancement of legal ethics and professional responsibility. The winner was recognized during an award presentation at the 2013 ABA Midyear Meeting in Dallas, TX.


Clark Walton
Nominated by the North Carolina Bar Association Young Lawyers Division

Clark Walton practices as counsel with the law firm of Alexander Ricks PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Until October 2012, Walton served as an Assistant Attorney General with the North Carolina Department of Justice and was designated as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the Western and Middle Districts of North Carolina, leading complex civil whistleblower and fraud investigations against healthcare providers, specializing in "qui tam" matters.  He also serves as an adjunct professor at the Charlotte School of Law, and in the spring of 2012 authored an original course on cyber crime for upper level students, currently in its second running.

Since the inception of his legal career, Walton has volunteered significant time to bar associations at the local, state and national levels.  He is the Chair-Elect of the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA) Young Lawyers Division (YLD), and will become its Chair in June 2013.  Walton currently serves on the ABA’s Advisory Committee on Law and National Security, where he focuses on cyber issues. He is a contributing author to the Committee’s November 2012 publication, National Security Law:  Fifty Years of Transformation from the Past to the Future.  He is also the ABA YLD liaison to the Special Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness, and is serving a three year term on the Board of Directors of the Mecklenburg County, N.C. bar through 2014.

Walton began his service to the profession a decade ago at Georgetown University Law Center where he was twice elected ABA Law Student Division delegate to the ABA House of Delegates from 2003 to 2005, serving on the House of Delegates Technology Committee.  After law school, Walton worked from 2005 to 2006 with the litigation practice of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP in Charlotte, NC.  He joined the finance practice of Mayer Brown LLP’s Charlotte office in 2006 and resumed bar service soon thereafter as the ABA YLD’s liaison to the Standing Committee on Armed Forces Law from 2007 to 2011.

In 2008, Walton began service as a leader in the NCBA YLD as its Wills for Heroes Committee co-chair.  Working closely with Wills for Heroes' co-founders, in the program’s first year, Walton and his co-chair planned six events statewide and provided over 1,500 first responders and their spouses or partners with free estate planning services.  Walton received Mayer Brown’s 2008 U.S. Transactional Pro Bono Matter of the Year for planning one of the first such events in his hometown of Salisbury, NC, and also received a commendation from the Winston-Salem, NC Police and Fire Departments for co-planning an event where 70 volunteers provided legal services to over 420 individuals, one of the largest single Wills for Heroes events ever held.

Walton’s pro bono service at Mayer Brown was not limited to Wills for Heroes.  Walton represented several Iraqi nationals who aided the U.S. Government and military in their refugee resettlement applications.  Walton also became certified by the U.S. Veterans Administration to handle veteran disability claims.  In 2008 alone, Walton logged over 350 pro bono hours in addition to his banking and finance practice.  Walton served as a member of Mayer Brown’s Pro Bono Committee, and was named the NCBA’s Pro Bono Younger Lawyer of the Year in 2010.

Walton left Mayer Brown in 2009 to join the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, NC.  From 2009 to 2011, Walton prosecuted a wide variety of criminal cases and participated in well over 150 criminal bench and jury trials, including a year in the Office's domestic violence and child abuse unit.  Walton continued to serve both the ABA and the NCBA during that time, serving in nearly every office in the NCBA YLD since 2008, and serving out the term of the ABA YLD District 9 Representative in 2009-2010.

Walton earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematical Sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1999.  He was awarded an FBI Honors Internship in the summer of 1999, working at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and upon earning his undergraduate degree worked as a project manager and cyber security analyst for the federal government.  While in law school, Walton also served as a White House intern in 2003 on the Vice President's Homeland Security Staff.


Karen C. Denney
Nominated by the Texas Young Lawyers Associatio
Ms. Denney’s Bio (PDF)

R. Carson Fisk
Nominated by the ABA Forum on the Construction Industr
Mr. Fisk’s Bio (PDF)