Legal Elite; These members of the bar are top-shelf: the state's best lawyers, picked by their peers, in 14 categories.

 
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What prompts someone to become a lawyer, let alone one so skillful in a field as to be picked by peers as among the state's best? In many cases, a career can be shaped by another job, even that person's first, which usually has nothing to do with the practice of law. Toiling in a tobacco field, textile mill or machine shop can inspire a desire to work with the mind instead of the hands. Skills learned teaching school, tactics to capture and keep a classroom's attention, can provide valuable lessons in how to sway juries. Just ask the top-ranking members of the Legal Elite, BUSINESS NORTH CAROLINA's annual list of top Tar Heel lawyers. One winner found that even a job as a janitor in a nursing home taught valuable lessons--if not in law, then in life. For those who received the most votes in each category, there's a photo harking back to that early job and commentary on how it helped. The Legal Elite, as it has been for the six years of its existence, is chosen not by BNC editors but by the state's lawyers. The magazine mailed nearly 18,000 ballots--one to every member of the State Bar living in North Carolina--asking each a simple question: Of the Tar Heel lawyers whose work you have observed firsthand, whom would you rate among the current best in these categories? This time around, we added two categories--family law and lawyers younger than 40--bringing the total to 14. Voters were not allowed to vote for themselves. They could select members of their firms only if they picked out-of-firm lawyers in the same categories, with the latter votes weighted more heavily. Past winners become members of the Legal Elite Hall of Fame and are ineligible to win again. Response to the balloting was up nearly 20%, with more than 2,500 lawyers receiving votes. But the list still lives up to its name: Only 607--slightly more than 3% of the State Bar membership--made this year's Legal Elite. You'll find them on the pages that follow.

HALL of FAME

These were the top vote getters of past Legal Elite balloting and their firms when they were chosen. In 2004, we imposed a one-term limit, so winners cannot be re-elected. Some categories have been modified since the list was inaugurated in 2002.

ANTITRUST Matthew W. Sawchak, Ellis & Winters LLP, Cary (2002, 2003); Rodrick J. Enns, Enns & Archer LLP, Winston-Salem (2004); Larry B. Sitton, Smith Moore LLP, Greensboro (2005); Everett J. Bowman, Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson PA, Charlotte (2006)

BANKRUPTCY J. Michael Booe, Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman LLP, Charlotte (2002, 2003); Gregory B. Crampton, Nicholls & Crampton PA, Raleigh (2004); Richard M. Hutson II, Hutson Hughes & Powell PA, Durham (2005); C. Richard Rayburn Jr., Rayburn Cooper & Durham PA, Charlotte (2006)

BUSINESS LAW Russell M. Robinson II, Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson PA, Charlotte (2002, 2003); Doris R. Bray, Schell Bray Aycock Abel & Livingston PLLC, Greensboro (2004); J. Norfleet Pruden III, Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman LLP, Charlotte (2005); William M. Flynn, Hunton & Williams LLP, Raleigh (2006)

CONSTRUCTION James A. Roberts III, Lewis & Roberts PLLC, Raleigh (2004); Jeffrey J. Davis, Moore & Van Allen PLLC, Charlotte (2005); John L. Shaw, Poyner & Spruill LLP, Raleigh (2006)

CONSTRUCTION / REAL ESTATE Charles L. Fulton, Manning, Fulton & Skinner PA, Raleigh (2002, 2003)

CORPORATE COUNSEL Russell M. Robinson II, Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson PA, Charlotte (2002); James E. Creekman, First Citizens Bank & Trust Co., Raleigh (2003); David L. Ward Jr., Ward and Smith PA, New Bern (2004); Douglas R. Edwards, Wachovia Corp., Charlotte (2005); Stephen K. Coss, Sonic Automotive Inc., Charlotte (2006)

CRIMINAL DEFENSE Wade M. Smith, Tharrington Smith LLP, Raleigh (2004); James F. Wyatt III, Wyatt & Blake LLP, Charlotte (2005); David Freedman, White and Crumpler, Winston-Salem (2006)

EMPLOYMENT Philip M. Van Hoy, Van Hoy, Reutlinger & Adams, Charlotte (2002); George J. Oliver, Smith Moore LLP, Raleigh (2003); Penni Pearson Bradshaw, Kilpatrick Stockton LLP, Winston-Salem (2004); Jonathan R. Harkavy, Patterson Harkavy LLP, Greensboro (2005); Patricia L. Holland, Cranfill, Sumner & Hartzog, Raleigh (2006)

ENVIRONMENTAL Charles D. Case, Hunton & Williams, Raleigh (2002, 2003); H. Glenn Dunn, Poyner & Spruill LLP, Raleigh (2004); George W. House, Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard LLP, Greensboro (2005); William D. Dannelly, Hunton & Williams LLP, Raleigh (2006)

LITIGATION James T. Williams Jr., Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard LLP, Greensboro (2002, 2003); Clarence W. Walker, Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman LLP, Charlotte (2004); Gary S. Parsons, Bailey & Dixon LLP, Raleigh (2005); William K. Davis, Bell, Davis & Pitt PA, Winston-Salem (2006)

PATENTS / INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY Mitchell S. Bigel, Myers Bigel Sibley & Sajovec PA, Raleigh (2002, 2003); Kenneth D. Sibley, Myers Bigel Sibley & Sajovec PA, Raleigh (2004); Wesley Thaddeus Adams III, Adams Evans PA, Charlotte (2005); J. Scott Evans, Adams Evans PA, Charlotte (2006)

REAL ESTATE Alfred Adams, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice PLLC, Winston-Salem (2004); Barry D. Mann, Manning, Fulton & Skinner PA, Raleigh (2005); Brent A. Torstrick, Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson PA, Charlotte (2006)

TAX / ESTATE PLANNING Robert C. Vaughn Jr., Vaughn Perkinson Ehlinger Moxley & Stogner, Winston-Salem (2002, 2003); W. Curtis Elliott Jr., Culp Elliott & Carpenter PLLC, Charlotte (2004); Ray S. Farris, Johnston, Allison & Hord PA, Charlotte (2005); Elizabeth L. Quick, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice PLLC, Winston-Salem (2006)

ANTITRUST

Douglas W. Kenyon

Hunton & Williams LLP, Raleigh

Michael R. Abel

Schell Bray Aycock Abel & Livingston PLLC, Greensboro

Jonathan A. Berkelhammer

Smith Moore LLP, Greensboro

Daniel G. Clodfelter

Moore & Van Allen PLLC, Charlotte

W. Andrew Copenhaver

Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice PLLC, Winston-Salem

J. Donald Cowan Jr.

Smith Moore LLP, Greensboro

Richard W. Ellis

Ellis & Winters LLP, Raleigh

Gary R. Govert

N.C. Department of Justice, Raleigh

John F. Graybeal

Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP, Raleigh

Denise M. Gunter

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, Winston-Salem

Mark J. Horoschak

Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice PLLC, Charlotte

George L. Little Jr.

Kilpatrick Stockton LLP, Winston-Salem

Mark W. Merritt

Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson PA, Charlotte

Pressly M. Millen

Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice PLLC, Raleigh

John M. Murchison

Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman LLP, Charlotte

Jeffrey E. Oleynik

Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard LLP, Greensboro

Mark N. Poovey

Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice PLLC, Winston-Salem

Norman B. Smith

Smith, James, Rowlett & Cohen LLP, Greensboro

Robert W. Spearman

Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP, Raleigh

Robin Kenton Vinson

Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan LLP, Raleigh

BANKRUPTCY

Terri L. Gardner

Poyner & Spruill LLP, Raleigh

David R. Badger

David R. Badger PA, Charlotte

June L. Basden

Carruthers & Roth PA, Greensboro

Laurie B. Biggs

Stubbs & Perdue PA, Raleigh

William E. Brewer

The Brewer Law Firm, Raleigh

Algernon Lee Butler III

Butler & Butler LLP, Wilmington

Thomas E. Cabaniss

McGuireWoods LLP, Charlotte

James Oliver Carter

Carter & Carter PA, Wilmington

Daniel G. Clodfelter

Moore & Van Allen PLLC, Charlotte

David Harris Conaway

Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick LLP, Charlotte

Albert F. Durham

Rayburn Cooper & Durham PA, Charlotte

David L. Eades

Moore & Van Allen PLLC, Charlotte

Paul A. Fanning

Ward & Smith PA, Greenville

Michael P. Flanagan

Ward & Smith PA, Greenville

O. Max Gardner III

The Law Offices of O. Max Gardner III PC, Shelby

David G. Gray Jr.

Westall Gray Connolly & Davis PA, Asheville

Kenneth M. Greene

Carruthers & Roth PA, Greensboro

Holmes P. Harden

Maupin Taylor PA, Raleigh

W.B. Hawfield Jr.

Moore & Van Allen PLLC, Charlotte

James H. Henderson

The Law Offices of James H. Henderson PC, Charlotte

A. Lee Hogewood III

Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman LLP, Raleigh

Stephani Wilson Humrickhouse

Nicholls & Crampton PA, Raleigh

Charles M. Ivey III

Ivey, McClellan, Gatton & Talcott LLP, Greensboro

William P. Janvier

Everett, Gaskins, Hancock & Stevens LLP, Raleigh

Gerald A. Jeutter Jr.

Kilpatrick Stockton LLP, Raleigh

Benjamin A. Kahn

Nexsen Pruet Adams Kleemeier PLLC, Greensboro

Joseph B.C. Kluttz

Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman LLP, Charlotte

R. Bradford Leggett

Allman Spry Leggett & Crumpler PA, Winston-Salem

Travis W. Moon

Hamilton Moon Stephens Steele & Martin PLLC, Charlotte

Ocie F. Murray Jr.

Murray, Craven & Inman LLP, Fayetteville

Christine L. Myatt

Nexsen Pruet Adams Kleemeier PLLC, Greensboro

John A. Northen

Northen Blue LLP, Chapel Hill

Jeffrey E. Oleynik

Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard LLP, Greensboro

Walter W. Pitt Jr.

Bell, Davis & Pitt PA, Winston-Salem

J. William Porter

Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP, Charlotte

Amos U. Priester IV

Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan LLP, Raleigh

Robert H. Pryor

Helms Mulliss & Wicker PLLC, Charlotte

Everett B. Saslow Jr.

Hill, Evans, Duncan, Jordan & Beatty PLLC, Greensboro

David M. Schilli

Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson PA, Charlotte

John H. Small

Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard LLP, Greensboro

Traywick H. Stubbs Jr.

Stubbs & Perdue PA, New Bern

William B. Sullivan

Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice PLLC, Winston-Salem

Gene B. Tarr

Blanco Tackaberry Combs & Matamoros PA, Winston-Salem

Judy D. Thompson

Poyner & Spruill LLP, Charlotte

Scott P. Vaughn

Helms Mulliss & Wicker PLLC, Charlotte

James E. Vaughan

James E. Vaughan Attorney at Law PC, Winston-Salem

N. Hunter Wyche Jr.

Smith Debnam Narron Wyche Saintsing & Myers LLP, Raleigh

BUSINESS

Robin L. Hinson

Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson PA, Charlotte

Michael R. Abel

Schell Bray Aycock Abel & Livingston PLLC, Greensboro

E. Kent Auberry

Smith Moore LLP, Greensboro

John W. Babcock

Wall Esleeck Babcock LLP, Winston-Salem

David D. Beatty

Myers Bigel Sibley & Sajovec PA, Raleigh

Frank M. Bell Jr.

Bell, Davis & Pitt PA...

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