Elizabeth Ashley Summitt, a Lincolnton native and graduate of Lincolnton High School, returned to Lincolnton to be sworn in to the North Carolina Bar on May 17. Judge Meredith Shuford, District Court judge for the 27B Judicial District of Cleveland and Lincoln counties, swore in Summitt at the Lincoln County Courthouse in downtown Lincolnton.
Summitt remembered meeting Shuford’s father, an attorney and her father’s friend, when she was young. Though Summitt did not know Judge Shuford personally, she had a connection to her, and contacted her because she was a female judge.
“It would have been easier for me to drive to Asheville, which is closer to West Virginia to be sworn in, but I knew that I wanted to be sworn in in my hometown” Summitt said. “It was a new experience for me to be in a courtroom in my hometown. I had never been above the first floor of the courthouse before.”
By Summitt being sworn in to the North Carolina Bar by a North Carolina judge, she has ensured her ability to practice law in North Carolina.
“Being sworn into the NC Bar, is being administered an oath as an officer of the court to uphold the US and NC constitutions and statutes. Every lawyer is also an officer of the court and must be sworn to uphold the constitution and laws of the state in which they are allowed to practice law” Summitt said.
After graduating from Lincolnton High School in 1984, Summitt continued her education, graduating from Hollins College, the London School of Economics and Northeastern University School of Law. Ever since her graduation in 2000, Summitt has been practicing law in West Virginia. She served as Deputy General Counsel for West Virginia Governor Jim Justice for two years and as the Chief Counsel for the previous West Virginia Secretary of State for eight years.
She now practices cyber security and privacy law for the State of West Virginia.
“Privacy and cyber security are a new and fast emerging area of the law. Being in the field early gives me an opportunity to watch it development and shape the law, at least in West Virginia” said Summitt.
Her current role is the Chief Privacy Officer for the Executive Branch of West Virginia, which she was selected for in March 2019, after her experience with being the privacy officer for the West Virginia governor. Summitt and the West Virginia State Privacy Office protect Personally Identifiable Information (PII).
“My office supports and advises members of the Executive Branch how to protect their personally identifiable and health data from unauthorized disclosure. If it is disclosed, then we advise them how to comply with the notice requirements the law requires” said Summitt.
Summitt currently resides in Charleston, West Virginia, with her husband Aaron Allred, and her daughter, Audrey. Though states away, Summitt has strong roots in Lincolnton, where both her late parents, Howard and Jewel Summitt lived, and where her brother, Tim Summitt, and sister-in-law, Beth Summitt, currently reside.