Mary Kathryn Kurth: A Servant’s Heart

Mary Kathryn Kurth
Cannabis Law Special Issue

“In medical malpractice cases, clients are coming to us because something really horrible has happened. Either they’ve lost a loved one, or a loved one has been permanently injured,” said Mary Kathryn Kurth, a personal injury attorney with Edwards Kirby. 

“It’s difficult to pursue those cases, and they usually result in prolonged litigation, so they need a lot more guidance and support than typical clients. I like being able to help my clients feel like they are getting justice. Obviously, we’re not able to give them back the life they had before the injury, but we’re definitely helping them move forward with their lives.”

Unique Vantage Point

Kurth has multiple nurses in her family, including her mother, Kathryn. She had considered a medical career, but laughingly shares she’s terrible with math. Still, surrounded by family in the medical field gives her practice a unique vantage point. 

“When I go into a case, I don’t think the doctor or medical team had bad intentions for the outcome,” said Kurth. “The question is whether there was a violation of that medical provider’s standard of care. This is what separates med mal cases from personal injury cases. We need another doctor or provider in the same field to come forward and state the provider violated the standard of care. That is not easy to find, and usually means there has been a real breach of care.”

Wallace Fellowship

The Tarboro, NC native was a paralegal for several years before deciding to commit to law school. She attended Campbell Law, where she was named a Wallace Fellow. The fellowship is named in honor of Dr. Jerry Wallace, a long-time president of the university. “Dr. Wallace told me, and I will never forget this, ‘Mary Kathryn, you have a servant’s heart.’ I’ve really taken that to heart and tried to practice that as a lawyer and as a good Christian.” 

“To me, it means giving back to the community in any way I can. As lawyers, we’re called on to do that by our code of ethics, and we have the ability to do it through our work, in our devotion to our clients, and the positive change we can drive in our community.” 

Kurth leads many of the firm’s service projects and coordinates the Edenton Street United Methodist Church’s monthly meal program at the New Bern House in Raleigh. “It reenergizes me to work hard and give back to my community.” 

Kurth said her empathy is hereditary. “I’ve always had a caring attitude. I think it was engendered by the work my mom did in the hospital and my dad’s work in the community college system in Nash County.” 

A Good Advocate 

Kurth is being mentored by some of the best in the business, including John Edwards, David Kirby, Bill Bystrynski, Kristen Beightol, and Cate Edwards. “They’ve taught me the importance of integrity and kindness in the practice of law. Litigating a case can become contentious. By observing my mentors, I’ve learned you can be a good advocate and do a good job for your client without being contentious or rude.”

Kurth is also working with Cate Edwards on a recently filed police shooting case. “Our firm is always looking to extend our reach into social justice issues,” said Kurth. “Keeping that at the forefront of our practice ties into my passion for service.”

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Bob Friedman

Robert "Bob" Friedman is the publisher of Attorney at Law Magazine North Carolina Triangle. He contributes articles and interviews to each issue.

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