Ann Majestic gave Wake County schools wise counsel

She was a tough lawyer, direct and forceful and faithful to the creeds of all great attorneys: Know your subject better than the other side and never get caught off-guard. For more than 30 years, Ann Majestic, who represented Wake County’s school board and many other school systems around the state, always knew more than anyone else in the room.

In that role, Majestic, who died Saturday at 61 of breast cancer, worked on student assignment cases in Wake and figured in a major way in some big legal battles affecting schools, including the Leandro case about the underfunding of poor school districts. When Republicans briefly took over the Wake school board, their skepticism about Majestic quickly faded. She headed the education law division of Tharrington Smith, a prominent Raleigh firm that included high-profile Democrats, but she was a pro.

Majestic knew her job was to represent her clients. She didn’t involve herself in controversy, but that’s not to say she wasn’t fearless. She was, in or out of court. And it must be said as well that she broke into the law at a time when women had a difficult time getting started. She got started – and then rose to the top.