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Achievers & Accolades

Area Attorneys Chosen For 2020 Super Lawyers List

By Staff Reports, posted Apr 3, 2020
Another legal industry accolade that comes out each year is the Super Lawyers list, which is a publication of Thomson Reuters. Super Lawyers is a rating service of lawyers across the nation. Peer nominations and evaluations along with third-party research are used to review candidates.
 

CHRISTOPHER BEHM

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers- Construction Litigation
FIRM: Block, Crouch, Keeter, Behm & Sayed
TITLE: Partner
EDUCATION: Guilford College (A.B.); Wake Forest University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Behm has been a partner with Block, Crouch, Keeter, Behm & Sayed since 2005. He previously was an associate attorney with Block, Crouch & Keeter and with Howard, Stallings, From & Hutson in Raleigh.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Civil, commercial, construction, homeowners association, trust and estates, real estate, products liability and personal injury matters in federal and state courts
 

NORWOOD BLANCHARD III

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Employment & Labor
FIRM: Crossley McIntosh Collier Hanley & Edes PLLC
TITLE: Partner
EDUCATION: East Carolina University (B.S., B.A.); Duke University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Blanchard has argued numerous appellate cases at the N.C. Supreme Court, N.C. Court of Appeals and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Employment, general civil and municipal
 

DANIEL BRAWLEY

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Construction Litigation (Also named to Hall of Fame for Legal Elite in Litigation)
FIRM: Block, Crouch, Keeter, Behm & Sayed
TITLE: Of Counsel
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A. and J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Brawley was a visiting professor at the law school at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland. “The opportunity to work with law students and professors in a post-Soviet Union environment was educational and rewarding and confirmed my abiding appreciation of the American judicial system,” Brawley said.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Litigation, construction and admiralty
 

ALGERNON L. BUTLER III

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Bankruptcy: Business
FIRM: Butler & Butler, LLP
TITLE: Managing Partner
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (A.B., and J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Butler represents businesses and individuals, debtors and creditors, in bankruptcy cases and in connection with non-bankruptcy alternatives, workouts and debt restructuring. Butler also serves as a Chapter 7 panel trustee for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court (EDNC) and as receiver in state court proceedings. He has served several terms as a director of the Bankruptcy Section of the N.C. Bar Association and has served as vice chairman of the Local Rules Committee for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court (EDNC).
AREAS OF FOCUS: Financial and insolvency advice, bankruptcy avoidance, non-bankruptcy workouts, pre-bankruptcy planning, corporate reorganizations under Chapter 11, personal bankruptcies under Chapters 7 and 13, creditor representation, bankruptcy and civil litigation. Certified by N.C. State Bar Board of Legal Specialization and American Board of Certification as a specialist in Business Bankruptcy and Consumer Bankruptcy law
 

STEPHEN COBLE

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-General Litigation
FIRM: Coble Law Firm PC TITLE: Attorney, Manager
EDUCATION: Elon College (B.A.); Appalachian State University (MPA); University of Dayton (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Selected as an Emerging Legal Leader in 2010 by North Carolina Lawyers Weekly; as a Rising Star in 2012 and 2014 by Super Lawyers; a Legal Elite by Business North Carolina in 2013; Rated AV Preeminent (the highest possible rating) by Martindale-Hubbell 2015-20; as a top-rated general litigation attorney by Super Lawyers 2017-20.
AREA OF FOCUS: General civil litigation
 

AULEY CROUCH III

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-General Litigation
FIRM: Block, Crouch, Keeter, Behm & Sayed
TITLE: Partner
EDUCATION: Citadel (B.S.); John Marshall Law School (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Crouch has been a Superior Court mediator since 1993. His representative reported cases include: Sevigny v. Dicksey; Marina Food Associates Inc. v. Marina Restaurant Inc.; and Williams v. Houses of Distinction Inc.
AREAS OF FOCUS: General civil, including commercial/business disputes, construction litigation, personal injury and condemnation in federal and state courts
 

A.L. BUTLER DANIEL

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Medical Malpractice
FIRM: Daniel Pleasant Holoman LLP
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: Campbell University School of Law (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Daniel was admitted to the practice of law in 1993. Daniel has been recognized by peers for outstanding work and commitment to the spirit of the legal profession.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Personal injury-medical malpractice: plaintiff issues and personal injury-general: plaintiff.
 

G. STEPHEN DIAB

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Tax (See Legal Elite profile), Murchison Taylor & Gibson PLLC

See Diab's Legal Elite list profile
 

DON EVANS JR.

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Transportation/ Maritime
FIRM: Clark, Newton & Evans PA
TITLE: Managing Partner
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill; Campbell University (J.D.); U.S. Naval Justice School
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Evans belongs to the Real Property Section of the N.C. Bar and represents developers and banks in Eastern North Carolina, as well as having a significant wills, estates and maritime practice. Evans is also a retired Navy JAG Commander, providing him insight into land and sea transactions, finance and litigation. While his firm conducts a general practice, it has particular strength in real estate, maritime law, business transactions and estates.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Business transactions, maritime law, real estate, wills and estates
 

JANET GEMMELL

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Family Law
FIRM: Cape Fear Family Law
TITLE: Board-Certified Family Law Specialist
EDUCATION: UNCW (B.A.); Campbell University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Gemmell is a contributing writer and public speaker on divorce law topics for local publications and has been featured in national magazines. She also teaches continuing legal education classes for other attorneys throughout the state. She loves working with divorcing clients and helping them through the process of divorce.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Divorce, family law, child custody and alimony
 

JAMES B. GILLESPIE JR.

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Workers Compensation
FIRM: The Law Offices Of James B. Gillespie Jr. PLLC
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: Davidson; Cornell University Law School (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Beginning in the late 1980s, Gillespie wrote extensively for a national legal publisher on the representation of disabled people before the Social Security Administration. He has lectured for the N.C. Bar Association and the N.C. Advocates for Justice. On a national level, he has presented training material to the National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives, an organization in which he has been a significant participant for more than 25 years.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability
 

KATHLEEN SHANNON GLANCY

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Workers’ Compensation
FIRM: The Law Offices of Kathleen Shannon Glancy
TITLE: Founding attorney
EDUCATION: University of California, Irvine (B.A.); Santa Clara University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Glancy served five years as staff and managing attorney at Legal Services in Fremont, Ohio, and in Wilmington. In 1985, she founded her own law firm. She is an active leader in the N.C. Advocates for Justice’s Workers’ Compensation Section and Workplace Injury Litigation Group as well as the Labor and Employment Section of the ABA.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Board-certified workers’ compensation specialist; social security disability; personal injury-general: plaintiff
 

H. MARK HAMLET

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Construction Litigation and Super Lawyers-Top 100 (See Legal Elite profile), Hamlet & Associates PLLC

See Hamlet's Legal Elite list profile
 

CHRISTOPHER HINNANT

CATEGORY : Super Lawyers-Civil Litigation: Defense
FIRM: Barnwell Whaley Patterson & Helms
TITLE: Member Attorney
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A.); Campbell University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: As a commercial litigator, Hinnant has handled many types of cases involving corporations and businesses, from minor contract disputes to one of the largest real estate fraud cases in North Carolina history (his banking client was dismissed on a 12(b) (6) motion). He has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America for work in personal injury litigation-defense.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Business law, civil litigation, construction litigation, medical malpractice defense, insurance coverage, personal injury defense, dram shop liability
 

GEOFFREY W. HOSFORD

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Criminal Defense
FIRM: Hosford & Hosford PC
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: Seton Hall University School of Law (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Selected to Super Lawyers 2017-20, Hosford has taken more than 120 felony cases through jury verdict, including first-degree and capital murder cases. Practicing in the Wilmington area sine 1997, he has been board-certified in state and federal criminal law by the N.C. State Bar Board of Legal Specialization since 2001.
AREA OF FOCUS: Criminal defense
 

MELODY JOLLY

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Professional Liability/Defense
FIRM: Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A., with honors, and J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Jolly leads Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog’s Professional Liability section and has also maintained an active leadership role in the Defense Research Institute’s Professional Liability Committee, for which she currently serves as committee chair.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Professional liability, community associations, construction defense
 

JILL PETERS KAESS

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Estate Planning & Probate (See Legal Elite profile), Lee Kaess PLLC

See Kaess' Legal Elite list profile
 

JEFFREY KEETER

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Real Estate (See Legal Elite profile), Block, Crouch, Keeter, Behm & Sayed

See Keeter's Legal Elite list profile
 

HENRY L. “HAL” KITCHIN JR.

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Business Litigation (Also named to Legal Elite-Hall of Fame)
FIRM: McGuireWoods
TITLE: Partner
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A.); Wake Forest University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Kitchin concentrates his practice on business and real estate and land-use litigation and regulation. He represents plaintiffs and defendants in real estate disputes, eminent domain proceedings and business, antitrust and breach of contract cases. He represents landowners and developers in land use and zoning/permitting proceedings. He also represents creditors in creditors’ rights and bankruptcy cases. Along with Legal Elite and Super Lawyers, Kitchin also has been included on The Best Lawyers in America list since 2009, including for 2019, in the area of commercial litigation.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Business and commercial litigation; eminent domain and real estate litigation; land use and zoning permitting and disputes; antitrust, business tort and breach of contract cases; creditors’ rights and bankruptcy cases; and lender liability lawsuits
 

LEAH L. KING

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Personal Injury
FIRM: King Law Firm
TITLE: Attorney, partner
EDUCATION: East Carolina University (B.S.); Campbell University School of Law (J.D.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: King is a regular lecturer for the N.C. Advocates for Justice and a board-certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist. She is a member of the New Hanover County Bar Association, the Workers’ Compensation Section Council of the N.C. Bar Association and the N.C. Advocates for Justice.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Personal injury-general: plaintiff; workers’ compensation: claimant, Social Security Disability, personal injury-medical malpractice: plaintiff, bankruptcy: consumer
 

REBECCA A. KNUDSON

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Construction Litigation (See Legal Elite profile), Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP

See Knudson's Legal Elite list profile
 

PAULA KOHUT

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Estate Planning & Probate (See Legal Elite profile), Kohut & Adams PA

See Kohut's Legal Elite list profile
 

JAMES LEA III

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Family Law
FIRM: The Lea/Schultz Law Firm
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill; Campbell University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Lea has been practicing law for nearly 40 years. He specializes in domestic law and civil litigation. In 1996, he earned the Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating and has maintained the
rating for the past 23 years. For over 10 years he has been listed in Super Lawyers and The Best Lawyers in America. His firm has been honored as one of The Best Law Firms in America.
AREA OF FOCUS: Family law
 

MICHAEL V. LEE

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Real Estate (See Legal Elite profile), Lee Kaess PLLC

See Lee's Legal Elite list profile
 

HELAYNE LEVY PAYNE

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Elder Law
FIRM: The Elder Law & Life Care Planning Center, Shallotte
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: Columbia University (master’s); Brooklyn Law School (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Levy Payne pursued an advanced law degree from Stetson University College of Law in 2010, graduating with her Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree in 2012 in Elder Law. In 2014, she founded the Elder Law & Life Care Planning Center, the first in North Carolina to become a member of the Life Care Planning Law Firms Association. She has served on the Board of Directors of Brunswick Senior Resources Inc. She has also been elected by colleagues to serve on the North Carolina chapter of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), the N.C. Bar Association’s Elder Law Section Council and the NAELA North Carolina chapter’s Advocacy Committee.
AREA OF FOCUS: Elder law
 

JOHN D. MARTIN

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Personal Injury: Medical Malpractice/Defense
FIRM: Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog
TITLE: Managing Partner, Wilmington office
EDUCATION: Wake Forest University (B.A.); Campbell University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Martin has successfully tried numerous medical malpractice and personal injury cases throughout Eastern North Carolina. Many of his cases involve brain injury, birth trauma, paraplegia and wrongful death. Martin also has experience with large construction litigation, premises liability and hospital/ workplace security. He has appeared before the U. S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, the U. S. Supreme Court and the N.C. Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. Martin has been named to The Best Lawyers in America list in Medical Malpractice Law, Defendants.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Business disputes litigation, medical malpractice and professional liability
 

JEAN SUTTON MARTIN

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Class Action/ Mass Torts (Also named to Hall of Fame for Legal Elite in Litigation)
FIRM: Law Office of Jean Sutton Martin
TITLE: Founder
EDUCATION: Wake Forest University (B.S.); University of South Carolina (M.I.B.S.); Wake Forest University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: With more than 20 years of experience in the field, Martin represents consumers and individuals in class actions, pharmaceutical drug cases and medical device litigation. She has served as lead or class counsel in numerous national class action cases, involving data breaches, consumer fraud and defective products.
AREA OF FOCUS: Consumer class action litigation
 

BRUCE MASON

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Criminal Defense
FIRM: Mason & Mason
EDUCATION: West Virginia University (B.S.); UNC-Chapel Hill (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Mason founded Mason & Mason in 1993 as a general trial practice specializing in criminal defense with a concentration in personal injury representation. The N.C. State Bar recognizes him as a board-certified specialist in state criminal law. Mason maintains an “excellent” rating by the national lawyer rating service of Martindale Hubbell. He practices extensively in federal court and is a member of the C.J.A. Panel.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Criminal defense, driving while impaired defense, traffic law and personal injury
 

JAMES MCGEE JR.

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Criminal Defense: DUI/DWI
FIRM: The McGee Law Firm
TITLE: Owner
EDUCATION: UNCW (B.S.); Campbell University (J.D.)
AREAS OF FOCUS: DWI defense, criminal defense and personal injury
 

ANDREW MCVEY

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Employment & Labor (See Legal Elite profile), Murchison Taylor & Gibson

See McVey's Legal Elite list profile
 

WILLIAM A. ODEN III

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Employment & Labor (See Legal Elite profile), Ward and Smith

See Oden's Legal Elite list profile
 

H. SCOTT OVERHOLT

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Personal Injury General: Plaintiff
FIRM: Overholt Law Firm PC
TITLE: Attorney, Founder
EDUCATION: University of Arkansas (B.A.); University of Arkansas (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Overholt has been practicing law for over 25 years. He specializes in personal injury and workers’ compensation. He is certified a Superior Court Mediator by the N.C. Dispute Resolution Commission. Admitted to practice before all North Carolina state courts, Overholt is also admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina and the U.S. Supreme Court.
 

W. JAMES PAYNE

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Criminal Defense: White Collar
FIRM: W. James Payne Law Firm
TITLE: Attorney at law
EDUCATION: Campbell Law School (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: A retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel, Payne has defended over 30 felony jury trials on the state and federal level and defended over 20 persons charged with death penalty first-degree murder. He is a member of the White Collar Committee for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and member of the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section. Payne is chairman of the Commission on Indigent Defense Services for North Carolina.
AREAS OF FOCUS: White-collar crime, capital murder, military law-courts martial
 

THOMAS PLEASANT

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Medical Malpractice
FIRM: Daniel Pleasant Holoman LLP
TITLE: Partner
EDUCATION: Wake Forest University (B.A. and J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Licensed in North Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia and Tennessee, Pleasant focuses on catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases, primarily in the medical and nursing home negligence arena, including birth and brain injury cases. Pleasant holds a Lexis Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent peer rating.
AREA OF FOCUS: Medical malpractice including birth injury, nursing home neglect
 

JAMES PRICE

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Bankruptcy: Business
FIRM: Price & Williams
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A.); Campbell Law School (J.D.) School.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Wills and estates, probate, bankruptcy, contracts and business formation.
 

MICHAEL RAMOS

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Criminal Defense
FIRM: Ramos Law Firm
TITLE: Owner, Attorney at Law
EDUCATION: UGA, UNC-Pembroke; Campbell Law School (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Ramos has practiced criminal defense law in Brunswick and surrounding North Carolina counties for 30 years plus, both in state and federal court. He carries a preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell. He was certified as a specialist in state and federal criminal law by the N.C. State Bar Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Ramos is a N.C. State Bar Councilor for the 13th District. He served honorably in the U.S. Army with the 82nd Airborne Division from 1972 to 1975.
AREA OF FOCUS: Criminal defense
 

JOEL RHINE

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Personal Injury General: Plaintiff (Also named to Super Lawyers Top 100 list)
FIRM: Rhine Law Firm
TITLE: Partner
EDUCATION: University of Tampa (B.A.); Wake Forest University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Rhine has handled a variety of multi-million dollar lawsuits involving numerous issues, including catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, construction, products liability, trucking and commercial vehicles, mass torts and class action for nearly three decades. Rhine has cases pending in North Carolina state and federal courts as well as federal courts throughout the U.S. He was also named to The Best Lawyers in America, Best Law Firms published in U.S. News, Martindale-Hubbell AV rating and National Trial Lawyers “Top 100 Trial Lawyers.”
AREA OF FOCUS: Complex civil litigation
 

LISA SALINES-MONDELLO

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Elder Law
FIRM: Salines-Mondello Law Firm PC
TITLE: Principal Attorney
EDUCATION: (bachelor’s, J.D.) Boston University School of Law (LL.M. in Taxation)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Licensed to practice in both North Carolina and Massachusetts, Salines-Mondello is certified as an elder law attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation and is a N.C. Bar-certified specialist in elder law. Salines-Mondello is a member of the North Carolina and Massachusetts bars, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the N.C. chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys as well as the N.C. Board of Legal Specialization, the Alzheimer’s North Carolina Casino for a Cause Fundraising Committee and the New Hanover County Estate Planning Council.
AREA OF FOCUS: Elder law
 

LINDA SAYED

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Family Law
FIRM: Block, Crouch, Keeter, Behm & Sayed
TITLE: Partner EDUCATION: UNCW (B.A. and M.Ed.); Campbell University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Sayed has been a partner at Block, Crouch, Keeter, Behm & Sayed since 2005. She is certified by the N.C. State Bar as a family law specialist. She is former president of the 5th Judicial Bar and serves on the executive board for Coastal Women Attorneys.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Divorce, custody, child support, alimony, property division, separation agreements, premarital agreements and adoptions
 

KENNETH SHANKLIN

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Real Estate
FIRM: Law Office of Kenneth A. Shanklin
TITLE: Owner
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Shanklin graduated from UNC School of Law in 1973, and although he has practiced in most areas of the law his concentration is in real estate, environmental and land use cases. He has been board-certified in real property law – residential, business, commercial and industrial transactions – since 1991.
AREA OF FOCUS: Real estate, environmental and land-use cases
 

GARY SHIPMAN

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Personal Injury General: Plaintiff
FIRM: Shipman & Wright
TITLE: Partner
EDUCATION: UNCW (B.A.); Campbell University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Shipman has been practicing since 1980. He has handled more than 100 jury trials to verdict during his career. He is an NFL-, NBA-, NCAA-certified agent. He also was recognized by Encore as the Best Law Firm in Wilmington 2016, 2017; Recognized by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel as part of the Nation’s Top One Percent; Voted by his peers to be included in The Best Lawyers in America.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Complex civil, business law, construction law, HOA law, wrongful death
 

HELEN TAROKIC

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Immigration
FIRM: Helen Tarokic Law PLLC
TITLE: Attorney, Manager EDUCATION: Lake Forest College (B.A.); Wake Forest University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Tarokic is one of four North Carolina board-certified immigration law specialists in Wilmington. She was awarded the AILA National Sam Williamson mentorship award in San Francisco, and she co-authored the book “Ignite Your Practice with the T Visa.” She handles all types of immigration and is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
AREAS OF FOCUS: North Carolina board certified immigration law specialist; fluent in Spanish, English and Croatian
 

RYAL TAYLOE

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Construction Litigation: Business
FIRM: Ward and Smith P.A.
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A.); Wake Forest School of Law (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Ryal is an experienced litigator. He has handled a wide range of litigation cases in state and federal courts, many of them jury trials. Ryal has extensive construction law experience, including lien law, federal and state bond claims, and defective workmanship cases. He also has significant experience with agribusiness litigation, property owner association disputes, personal injury, and all types of real estate disputes.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Contract litigation; eminent domain/condemnation; construction litigation; real estate litigation; personal injury litigation
 

BENTON TOUPS

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Employment & Labor (See Legal Elite profile), Cranfill, Sumner & Hartzog LLP

See Toup's Legal Elite list profile
 

JOEL MERRITT WAGONER

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Criminal Defense
FIRM: The Wagoner Law Firm PLLC
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: Thomas Jefferson School of Law (J.D.)
AREA OF FOCUS: Criminal defense
 

EDWIN WEST III

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Criminal Defense (See Legal Elite profile), Brooks Pierce McLendon Humphrey & Leonard

See West's Legal Elite list profile
 

WOODY WHITE

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Criminal Defense
FIRM: Woody White Law Firm PLLC
TITLE: Senior Partner
EDUCATION: Southern College (B.A.); University of Nebraska (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: White is a board-certified specialist in state and federal criminal law. He has served as a: New Hanover Regional Medical Center Trustee 1999-2002; Cape Fear Community College Trustee 2012-15; 2017; UNCW Board of Trustees 2018-present; chief legal counsel for the N.C. Republican Party 2002-04; state senator in 2004; Lower Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity Board Trustee 2006-07; New Hanover County Board of Commissioners 2012-present including as chairman 2012-14 and 2017-19; Legion Stadium Commission 2012-17; and New Hanover County Board of Health 2019-present. White is also AV rated by Martindale Hubbell, the highest rating available for both ethics and ability.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Criminal (both state and federal), serious personal injury cases, wrongful death, civil, DWI/DUI
 

D. ROBERT WILLIAMS JR.

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Real Estate
FIRM: Price & Williams, P.A.
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A.); N.C. Central University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Williams has extensive experience in real estate law, having represented clients in thousands of residential and commercial transactions. His clients have included first-time homebuyers, small businesses, builders and developers. In addition, Williams regularly acts as an adviser and counselor to homeowners’ associations.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Real estate, Estate Planning and Administration
 

MELISSA WRIGHT

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Family Law
FIRM: Block, Crouch, Keeter, Behm & Sayed
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: Cumberland School of Law of Samford University (J.D.); Pfeiffer University (B.A.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Wright is an experienced family law litigator, Certified Family Financial Mediator, collaborative family law attorney and Parenting Coordinator. She practiced family law for 12 years in Mecklenburg County before moving to Wilmington in 2015. She is frequently appointed as a Parenting Coordinator to assist parents with complying with court orders and to communicate and cooperate more effectively about their children.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Custody and child support, alimony and equitable distribution, premarital and separation agreements, adoptions, family law mediation, parenting coordination, collaborative divorce
 

WILLIAM WRIGHT

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Personal Injury General: Plaintiff
FIRM: Shipman & Wright
TITLE: Partner
EDUCATION: UNCW (B.A.); Campbell University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Wright has been practicing since 1999. He is licensed to practice in all state and federal courts in North Carolina. He is certified a Superior Court Mediator by the N.C. Dispute Resolution Commission. He is also a certified athlete agent in the state of North Carolina.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Complex civil, workers’ compensation, domestic and alternative dispute resolution
 

Rising Stars

A number of local attorneys also were named to Super Lawyers’ Rising Stars list. To be eligible for the Rising Stars category, candidates have to be either 40 or younger or in practice for 10 years or less.
 

VIRGINIA C. CARTER

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Estate Planning & Probate
FIRM: Ward and Smith PA
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: Washington and Lee University (B.A.); Duke University School of Law (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Carter assists in the preparation of all components of estate plans, wills, revocable trusts, durable powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney and living wills. She also advises individuals, families and closely-held business owners on estate and business succession planning issues, gift planning to reduce potential estate taxes and the preparation of gift tax returns, as well as the administration of estates.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Asset protection planning, business succession planning, estate administration, estate planning, trust and guardianship law
 

RICHARD COOK

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Bankruptcy/Consumer
FIRM: Cape Fear Debt Relief
TITLE: Owner and Managing Attorney
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (undergraduate and J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Cook is one of only a few attorneys in Wilmington recognized by the N.C. State Bar as a board-certified specialist in business and consumer bankruptcy law. He founded Cape Fear Debt Relief in 2011.
AREA OF FOCUS: Bankruptcy
 

DAVID A. CREECH

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Immigration
FIRM: David Creech Law Firm
TITLE: Attorney at law, Owner/Managing Partner
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A.); University of Miami (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Creech, who is fluent in Spanish, has practiced immigration and nationality law since 2010. He represents clients before the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration Customs Enforcement, Department of State, Immigration Courts, Executive Office of Immigration Review and Board of Immigration Appeals. Creech is a member of the New Hanover County Bar Association and the N.C. Bar Association. He is also an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Creech was previously recognized on two occasions as a Super Lawyers-Rising Star and he was selected as one of the top 40 attorneys under 40 in 2013 by the National Trial Attorneys.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Immigration and criminal defense
 

WANETA ELLIS

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Family Law
FIRM: Cape Fear Family Law
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: University of Phoenix (B.A.); Elon University School of Law (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Ellis helps immigrants obtain their citizenship legally, helping people obtain visas, apply for asylum, or manage any other applications for citizenship that are needed. She focuses a large part of her practice on the protections of immigrant children. She also volunteers twice a month with the local Latino community offering a free legal clinic to those in need.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Family law, immigration
 

NICKI ENGEL

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Elder Law
FIRM: Salines-Mondello Law Firm
TITLE: Associate Attorney
EDUCATION: Appalachian State University (B.S.); West Virginia University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Engel is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. (NAELA) and is the vice president of the North Carolina chapter of NAELA. She is the treasurer of the N.C. Bar Association (NCBA) Elder and Special Needs Law Section and a member of the NCBA Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Special needs planning; general estate, trust and asset protection planning; disability and long-term care; guardianships, veterans, Medicaid and other public benefits planning; guardianships and incompetency proceedings; financial exploitation, and probate and trust administration
 

HUNTER FRITZ

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Bankruptcy/Business
FIRM: Butler & Butler LLP
TITLE: Associate
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.S.); Wake Forest University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Prior to law school, Fritz served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy. He joined Butler & Butler as an associate after serving as a judicial law clerk to the Hon. Catherine R. Aron and the Hon. William L. Stocks with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Representing debtors, creditors and the Chapter 7 Trustee in both consumer and business bankruptcy cases, and also has represented creditors and clients in a variety of other civil practice areas
 

JERRY T. HANNANT

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Criminal Defense
TITLE: Attorney at Law
 

DEVLIN HORTON

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars-Civil Litigation: Plaintiff
FIRM: Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: UNC-Charlotte (B.A.); UNC Chapel Hill (J.D.)
AREA OF FOCUS: Personal injury litigation, business and commercial litigation
 

JESSICA SOLES HUMPHRIES

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Civil Litigation/Defense (See Legal Elite profile), Hamlet & Associates PLLC

See Humphries' Legal Elite list profile
 

JUSTIN HUMPHRIES

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Business/Corporate (See Legal Elite profile), The Humphries Law Firm

See Humphries' Legal Elite list profile
 

MARK IHNAT

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Estate Planning
FIRM: Atlantic Coast Law
TITLE: Partner
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A.); NCCU (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Parks Conservancy of New Hanover County Inc. – vice president, Board of Directors; New Hanover County Teen Court, volunteer judge; Legal Aid of North Carolina- Lawyers on the Line Volunteer Program
AREAS OF FOCUS: Estate planning, litigation
 

ANDY JONES

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Business Litigation (See Legal Elite profile), Forrest Firm PC

See Jones' Legal Elite list profile
 

EMILY JONES

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Criminal Defense (See Legal Elite profile), Burney & Jones

See Jones' Legal Elite list profile
 

HEATHER DOLAN KAEMMER

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Family Law
FIRM: Kaemmer Law Firm, PLLC
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: Elon University School of Law
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Kaemmer worked for a law firm based in Jacksonville, North Carolina, from 2012 to 2017 before opening her practice, Kaemmer Law Firm PLLC, in Hampstead in September 2017. Other highlights: Rising Stars, Super Lawyers (2018); Pro Bono Publico, New Hanover County Pro Bono Program: New Hanover County Bar Association (2014, 2015, 2016); Client Satisfaction Award, 10 Best: American Institute of Family Law Attorneys (2016); Top 10 Attorneys Under 40, North Carolina: National Academy of Family Law Attorneys (2014, 2015); Legal Elite, Family Law: Business North Carolina (2015); Client’s Choice, Family Law: Avvo (2014)
AREA OF FOCUS: Family Law
 

KEVIN MARCILLIAT

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Criminal Defense
FIRM: Roberts Law Group
TITLE: Partner
EDUCATION: Auburn University (B.S.) Campbell Law School (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Also rated AV Preeminent by his peers for the highest level of professional excellence, Marcilliat focuses his practice on defending individuals who are targets of government investigations or who are facing serious criminal charges. In 2019, two notable case outcomes included securing the outright dismissal of a charge of first-degree murder and securing early release from federal prison for a client.
AREA OF FOCUS: Criminal defense in state and federal courts throughout North Carolina
 

AMANDA MIARS

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Estate Planning & Probate
FIRM: Murchison, Taylor & Gibson PLLC
TITLE: Partner/Member
EDUCATION: UNCW (B.A. and B.S.); Campbell University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Miars’ practice experience includes a wide range of business and transactional, estate and trust-related matters. Her practice is primarily devoted to representing privately owned businesses.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Business law and taxation; mergers and acquisitions; estate planning and probate; estate and trust litigation
 

PATRICK MINCEY

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Criminal Defense/White Collar (See Legal Elite profile), Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP

See Mincey's Legal Elite list profile
 

JAMES T. MOORE JR.

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Star: Personal Injury General/Plaintiff
FIRM: Shipman & Wright
TITLE: Associate Attorney
EDUCATION: UNCW (B.S.); Campbell University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Moore was named to The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 under 40 and National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys Top 10 Attorneys under the age of 40 in North Carolina. He also is a certified contract adviser for the NFL
AREAS OF FOCUS: Wrongful death, personal injury litigation, construction litigation and mass torts
 

ADDISON PALANZA

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Business/Corporate
FIRM: Atlantic Coast Law
TITLE: Attorney and counselor at law
EDUCATION: Virginia Military Institute (B.A.); Campbell University School of Law (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: A former field artillery officer and veteran of the Iraq War, Addison
brings a substantial military background to the firm that complements his legal experience. Professional memberships include the N.C. Bar Association and New Hanover County Bar Association.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Business law, contract law, civil litigation and special proceedings
 

CONOR REGAN

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Business Litigation
FIRM: The Regan Law Firm
TITLE: Founder
EDUCATION: Mary Washington College (B.A.); Campbell University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Regan represents businesses and individuals in transactions as well as in litigation before North Carolina’s trial and appellate courts, including the N.C. Business Court and all three of the state’s federal district courts.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Litigation, business law, real estate, construction law
 

COLIN TARRANT

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: General Litigation (See Legal Elite profile), Block, Crouch, Keeter, Behm & Sayed LLP

See Tarrant's Legal Elite list profile
 

CHRISTOPHER MICHAEL THERIAULT

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Real Estate
FIRM: Theriault Law
TITLE: President
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Theriault has been selected as a Super Lawyers Rising Star in 2010 and from 2015 through 2020. He first received the Martindale- Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating in 2014. He also was named among The National Trial Lawyers top 40 trial lawyers in North Carolina under the age of 40 from 2012 to 2017.
AREA OF FOCUS: Real estate and civil litigation
 

JASON TOUPS

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Workers’ Compensation
FIRM: McAngus, Goudelock & Courie
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: Louisiana State University (B.A.); Mercer University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Toups has advised and defended North Carolina employers and municipalities against workers’ compensation and other employee disability claims since moving to Wilmington in 2006. He is a frequent presenter at various regional and statewide industry-related conferences and regularly provides education and training.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Workers’ compensation and subrogation
 

ALLEN N. TRASK III

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Business Litigation
FIRM: Ward and Smith PA
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: East Carolina University (B.S.); Campbell Law School (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Trask focuses his practice on assisting those who own, manage and invest in real estate and common interest communities. He has experience in all aspects of civil litigation, including depositions, hearings, mediations, arbitrations, trials and appeals. He is the leader of Ward and Smith’s Agribusiness.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Business, civil and commercial litigation; real estate and developer litigation; community associations disputes; zoning and land use; agribusiness
 

THOMAS VARNUM

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Intellectual Property (See Legal Elite profile), Brooks Pierce McLendon Humphrey & Leonard

See Varnum's Legal Elite list profile
 

BRETT WENTZ

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Criminal Defense
FIRM: Wentz Law
TITLE: Founder
EDUCATION: East Carolina University (B.A.); Campbell University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Wentz is the founder of his law firm. “I started doing this to help people, and having the ability to do that on my own is one of the highlights,” he said.
AREA OF FOCUS: Criminal defense
 

JEREMY WILSON

CATEGORY: Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Personal Injury General/ Plaintiff
FIRM: Ward and Smith P.A.
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A. and J.D.); Duke University (M.P.P.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Wilson leads Ward and Smith’s Personal Injury and Wrongful Death practice. He has extensive experience litigating claims for wrongful death, serious personal injury, and a broad range of civil litigation before state and federal courts. He also has litigated numerous cases involving complex insurance coverage issues, as well as business disputes.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Civil litigation, personal injury, medical malpractice, premises liability, insurance coverage and litigation, business, commercial and contract litigation
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