CORNELIUSâ€“ Following an incident that occurred with a national insurance company when she was a paralegal, as well as at the urging of her husband, Eddie Knox, the 1984 gubernatorial candidate, Denver resident Frances Knox decided to go back to law school.
The case was a property damage case in which the client didnâ€™t have any money, according to Knox.
â€œThe insurance company told me that they were going to wait the person out, meaning that my client could take their low offer or not,â€ said Knox. She turned to her husband for guidance.
â€œI went to my husbandâ€™s office and told him that if I were an attorney, Iâ€™d file a lawsuit,â€ she said. â€œHe told me to study to become an attorney and not talk about it.â€
She took his advice and went back to law school.
Knox graduated with a juris doctor degree from Wake Forest law school in 1991.
â€œThat was the only university I could commute to and that was an hour and 20 minutes away,â€ said Knox.
As a practicing lawyer and partner in the Cornelius-based firm of Knox, Brotherton, Knox and Godfrey, she also spends time giving back to her alma-mater.
â€œI taught a class at Wake Forest on ethics in the courtroom,â€ she said. â€œOne day, I received a letter from the dean stating they had picked me and 15 other female graduates of Wake Forest to go have breakfast with Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,â€ said Knox.
Knox joined her colleagues at the Graylan Conference Center in Winston-Salem at the end of October to have breakfast with Ginsburg.
Itâ€™s not the first time sheâ€™s met Ginsburg.
â€œI had actually met her when Eddie and I were sworn in to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court,â€ she said. â€œYou donâ€™t get to talk to the justices there.â€
According to Knox, the most fascinating thing about Ginsburg was her size.
â€œSheâ€™s a small lady, soft-spoken, but when she speaks, she speaks with great authority,â€ said Knox..â€ Sheâ€™s non-aggressive, which is surprising for a Supreme Court Justice.â€
She added that Ginsburg asked questions of the attorneys in attendance.
â€œShe wanted to know about the Wake Forest law school graduates and wanted to know what we were doing in our communities for public service, other than practice law,â€ said Knox.
Knox helps with the Susan G. Komen breast cancer golf tournament held annually at Verdict Ridge Country Club in Denver.
â€œWe raised almost $14,000 this past year,â€ said Knox.
Unlike the time her and Eddie shook hands with Ginsburg in Washington, D.C., this time she got to speak with the Supreme Court justice one-on-one.
â€œShe talked to us about what she went through in becoming a Supreme Court justice,â€ said Knox. â€œThe most startling thing was, she was number one in her law class but got passed over for a clerk position in the Court of Appeals because she was female.â€
Knox said that she doesnâ€™t experience that prejudice as a female litigator.
â€œI find that some rural jurors still think a male can handle a case better, but if you know and can recite the law, judges and many juries donâ€™t care if youâ€™re male or female,â€ she said.
Ginsburg also talked about the negative impression attorneys have today.
â€œShe said that attorneys need to go back and do what they were trained to do and thatâ€™s help people,â€ she said.
Knox added that attorneys that write letters soliciting business from injured people is something her firm does not do and attorneys who engage in that form of practice are â€œdoing a disservice to the profession of law.â€
â€œI donâ€™t even like the attorney ads on television,â€ she said. â€œIf your reputation speaks for itself, you donâ€™t need that kind of advertising.â€
Ginsburg also talked about the direction of the Supreme Court, including the key issues that might change like abortion and civil rights.
â€œI was extremely impressed with her knowledge of the law,â€ said Knox.
by Jon Mayhew