When we asked this year's Legal Elite winners what they would be if not a lawyer, many found the question perplexing. For people at the top of their profession, it's hard to imagine working in another field. While some immediately called to mind childhood dreams (page 73), previous jobs (page 82), or favorite pastimes or hobbies (page 87), one theme was constant: They are all passionate about their jobs and their firms.
"I absolutely love what I do," says Jean Sutton Martin, a Wilmington-based attorney who received the most votes in the litigation category. "My new firm, my clients and my cases are my priorities. You may beat me because the law is on your side, but you will never beat me because you knew more about my case. I am constantly learning, and that makes life fun and interesting."
"I don't know what else I would do, work-wise, if 1 weren't a lawyer," says Sean Sullivan, the top vote-getter for environmental law and a partner at the Raleigh office of Troutman Sanders LLP. "I think this is what I was meant to be."
The selection process for this year's winners began in June, when ballot alerts were emailed to more than 23,000 members of the N.C. Bar. Lawyers were asked to select peers they feel are (at the top of their fields. Online ballots were made available for a limited time, and the rules were simple: Lawyers could not vote for themselves, and they were only allowed to vote for a member of their own firm if they also selected an attorney from an outside firm in the same category. More weight was given to outside votes.
The top vote-getters in each field, with the exception of Young Guns, will be elevated to the Legal Elite Hall of Fame and are ineligible to win again in the same category. This year, fewer than 3% of the state's lawyers, 644 in all, made the list.
W. Andrew "Andy" Copenhaver, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice LLR Winston-Salem; Heather Adams, Alston & Bird LLP, Raleigh: James L.S. Cobb, Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton LLP, Raleigh: Jason D. Evans, McGuire Woods LLP, Charlotte, Stephen D. Feldman, Ellis & Winters LLP, Raleigh: Beau Fisher, Moore & Van Allen PLLC, Charlotte: M. Keith Kapp, Williams Mullen, Raleigh: Henry L. Kitchin Jr., McGuireWoods LLP, Wilmington: Lawrence C. Moore in, Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson PA, Charlotte; Jeffrey E. Oleynik, Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard LLP, Greensboro; Nathan Standley, Allen, Pinnix & Nichols PA, Raleigh.
Richard S. Wright, Moon Wright and Houston PLLC, Charlotte, Shelley K. Abel, Rayburn Cooper & Durham PA, Charlotte; Rayford K. Adams M. Spilman Thomas & Battle PLLC, Winston-Salem, David R. Badger, David R. Badger PA, Charlotte, June L. Basden, Carruthers & Roth PA, Greensboro; Tommy S. Blalock III, Blalock Law Offices PA, Greensboro: William E. Brewer Jr., The Brewer Law Firm, Raleigh; William E. Burton ID, Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP, Greensboro; Algernon L. Butler III, Butler & Butler LLP, Wilmington: Joseph N. Callaway, Battle, Winslow, Scott & Wiley PA, Rocky Mount; James Oliver Carter Jr., Carter & Carter PA, Wilmington: Katherine J. Clayton, Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard LLP, Raleigh; David H. Conaway, Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick LLR Charlotte: Richard Cook, Cape Fear Debt Relief, Wilmington; Stacy C. Cordes, Burt & Cordes PLLC, Charlotte; Heather W. Culp, Essex Richards PA, Charlotte, Damon Duncan, Duncan Law LLP, Greensboro: David L. Eades, Moore & Van Allen PLLC, Charlotte; Erich M. Fabricius, Fabricius & Fabricius PLLC, Knightdale; Paul A. Fanning, Ward & Smith PA, Greenville; Adam Mark Gottsegen Nicholls & Crampton PA, Raleigh: Joseph W. Grier m, Grier Furr & Crisp PA, Charlotte: James Henderson, The Henderson Law Firm PLLC, Charlotte; Jason L. Hendren, Hendren & Malone PLLC, Raleigh; David R. Hillier, Gum, Hillier & McCroskey PA, Asheville; A Lee Hogewood III, K&L Gates LLP, Raleigh: Andrew T. Houston, Moon Wright and Houston PLLC, Charlotte, Charles M. Ivey RL Ivey, McClellan, Gatton & Siegmund LLP, Greensboro; William P. Janvier, Janvier Law Firm PLLC, Raleigh: J. Trevor Johnston, McGuireWoods LLR Charlotte; Rod Kight, Right Law Office PC, Asheville; R. Bradford Leggett, Allman Spry Davis Leggett & Crumpler PA, Winston-Salem; Lance P. Martin. Ward & Smith PA, Asheville; Jack Miller, Rayburn Cooper & Durham PA, Charlotte; Kristin Decker Ogburn, Horack, Talley, Pharr & Lowndes PA, Charlotte, Jeffrey E. Oleynik, Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard LLP, Greensboro; George Mason Oliver, Oliver & Cheek PLLC, New Bern, Jeanne Ann Pennebaker, RTS Law Group, Charlotte; Robert M. Pitts, Pitts, Hay & Hugenschmidt PA, Asheville; Alan Pope, Moore & Van Allen PLLC, Charlotte; J. William Porter, Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLR Charlotte: George F. Sanderson III, Ellis & Winters LLP, Raleigh: Travis Sasser, Sasser Law Firm, Cary, David M. Schilli, Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson PA, Charlotte; J. Marshall Shelton, Law Office of J. Marshall Shelton, Graham, Caroline W. Sink, Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson PA, Charlotte, Andrew W.J. Tarr, Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson PA, Charlotte, Douglas J. Tate, McGuire, Wood & Bissette PA, Asheville; Glenn Thompson, Hamilton Stephens Steele & Martin PLLC, Charlotte, James C. White, Parry Tyndall White, Chapel Hill.
James R. Forrest, Forrest Firm PC, Durham; J. Mitchell Aberman, James McElroy & Diehl PA, Charlotte; Beth Ferebee Atkins, Howard, Stallings, From, Hutson, Atkins, Angeli & Davis PA Raleigh; E. Kent Auberry, Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP, Greensboro; John Babcock. Wall Babcock LLP, Winston-Salem; Adam M. Beaudoin, Ward and Smith PA, Wilmington: Donna Ray Berkelhammer, Legal Direction, Durham; Zachary R. Bishop, Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton LLP, Raleigh: John H. Britton, Britton Law PA. Fayetteville; Clint Byrd, Lincoln Derr PLLC, Charlotte; Kenneth G. Carroll, Morningstar Law Group, Morrisville, Philip S. Chubb, Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick LLR Charlotte, James H. Clarke, Manning Fulton & Skinner PA, Raleigh: Matthew A. Cordell, Ward and Smith PA, Raleigh: Galen G. Craun III, Bell, Davis & Pitt PA, Winston-Salem, John M. Cross Jr., Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard LLP, Greensboro; G. Stephen Diab, Murchison, Taylor & Gibson PLLC. Wilmington; J. Scott Dillon, Carruthers & Roth PA, Greensboro: T. Greg Doucette, Law Offices of T. Greg Doucette PLLC, Durham; James R. Faucher, Benson, Brown & Faucher PLLC, Greensboro: Paul J. Foley, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, Winston-Salem; Kerry A Friedman, Patla, Straus, Robinson & Moore PA, Asheville, Gregory Gach, Gach & Nolen PLLC, Charlotte; M. Heath Gilbert Jr., Baucom, Claytor, Benton, Morgan & Wood PA, Charlotte; William B. Gwyn Jr.. Manning Fulton & Skinner PA, Raleigh: James M. Hash, Everett Gaskins Hancock LLP, Raleigh, Jimmie B. Hicks Jr., Sumrell, Sugg, Carmichael, Hicks & Hart PA .New Bern, Steven A. Hockfield, Erdman and Hockfield LLP, Charlotte; Gregory D. Hutchins, Roberts & Stevens PA, Asheville, Fred D. Hutchison, Hutchison PLLC, Raleigh: Philip R. Isley, Blanchard, Miller, Lewis & Isley PA, Raleigh: Gene Jones, Morningstar Law Group, Morrisville; David Liggett, Ragsdale Liggett PLLC, Raleigh; Ashe Lockhart, Lockhart PLLC, Charlotte; E. Lynwood Mallard, McGuire-Woods LLP, Charlotte; Carolyn P. Meade, Moore & Van Allen PLLC, Charlotte; Daniel A. Merlin, Alexander Ricks PLLC, Charlotte; Brandy Milazzo, Milazzo Schaffer Webb Law PLLC, Charlotte: Doug Miller, Cogentrix Energy Power Management LLC, Charlotte; Stephen H. Morris, Essex Richards PA, Charlotte: Joshua J. Otto, Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton LLP, Raleigh: William G. Pappas, Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP, Raleigh, Kevin A. Prakke, Manning Fulton & Skinner PA, Raleigh: Donald R. Reynolds, Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton LLP, Raleigh: Thomas D. Ricks. Alexander Ricks PLLC, Charlotte: Neal Robbins, Neal Robbins PLLC, Asheboro: Larry E. Robbins, Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton LLP, Raleigh: Marvin L. Rogers, McGuire Woods LLP, Charlotte; George W. Sistrunk UL Hamilton Stephens Steele + Martin PLLC, Charlotte: James "Jim" H. Slaughter, Rossabi Black Slaughter PA, Greensboro; Roy L. Smart III, Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP, Charlotte: William S. Smoak, K&L Gates LLP, Charlotte: James B. Snow III, Hogue Hill LLP, Wilmington; Joseph H. Stallings, Howard, Stallings, From, Hutson, Atkins, Angeli & Davis PA, Raleigh: Paul A. Steffens, Troutman Sanders LLP, Charlotte: Dominic Hugh Totman, NC Planning/Adams, Howell, Sizemore & Lenfestey PA, Raleigh; Reich L. Welborn, Moore & Van Allen PLLC, Morrisville: T. Douglas Wilson Jr., McGuire, Wood & Bissette PA, Asheville, Keith A. Wood, Carruthers & Roth PA, Greensboro.
Harper Heckman, Nexsen Pruet PLLC, Greensboro: Greg C. Ahlum, Johnston, Allison & Hord PA, Charlotte: Bruce Ashley. Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP, Greensboro: Ryan L. Beaver, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, Charlotte; Christopher K. Behm, Block, Crouch, Keeter, Behm & Sayed LLP, Wilmington, Eric H. Biesecker, Nexsen Pruet PLLC, Greensboro: Steven Allen Bimbo, Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick LLP, Charlotte: William A. Blancato, Doughton Blancato PLLC, Winston-Salem: H. Arthur Bolick II, Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard LLP, Greensboro; Matthew C. Bouchard, Lewis & Roberts PLLC, Raleigh: Melissa Dewey Brumback, Ragsdale Liggett PLLC. Raleigh; Daniel K. Bryson, Whitfield Bryson & Mason LLP, Raleigh, Robert L. Burchette, Johnston, Allison & Hord PA, Charlotte; D. Anderson Carmen, Bell, Davis & Pitt PA, Winston-Salem, B. David Carson, Johnston, Allison & Hord PA, Charlotte, Chris Chleborowicz, Chleborowicz Law Firm PLLC, Wilmington David S. Coats, Bailey & Dixon LLP, Raleigh: Keith E. Coltrain, Wall Templeton & Haldrup PA. Raleigh, Edward B. Davis, Bell, Davis & Pitt PA, Charlotte-. Lex M. Erwin, Erwin, Bishop, Capitano & Moss PA, Charlotte; A. Holt Gwyn, Conner Gwyn Schenck PLLC, Greensboro; David Hamilton, Hamilton Stephens Steele + Martin PLLC, Charlotte; H. Mark Hamlet, Hamlet and Associates...