Print
Achievers & Accolades

Area Attorneys Chosen For 2021 Legal Elite List

By Staff Reports, posted Apr 2, 2021
Hundreds of lawyers made Business North Carolina magazine’s Legal Elite list this year. The group included Wilmington-area lawyers.
 
To compile the annual list, Business North Carolina asks the thousands of active N.C. State Bar members to vote for recommendations of top lawyers in various areas.
 
Lawyers were not able to vote for themselves. They were allowed to vote for members from their own firms only by voting for another out-of-firm lawyer in the same category. The vote for the out-of-firm lawyer was weighed more heavily.
 

Here are the local attorneys who made the 2021 list:

 

DAVID ANDERSON

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Tax/Estate Planning
FIRM: David E. Anderson PLLC
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: Mount Olive College (B.S.); N.C. Central University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: For the past eight years, Anderson has focused his practice on estate planning and estate/trust administration. He is a member of the American Bar Association and N.C. Bar Association. He is a past president of the New Hanover County Estate Planning Council and a member of the N.C. Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section Legislative Committee. Anderson also has almost a decade of law enforcement experience and military service prior to practicing law.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Estate planning and estate/trust administration

 

YOEL HAIM-LEV BALTER

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Corporate Counsel
FIRM: Liberty Healthcare Management Inc.
TITLE: Vice President and General Counsel
EDUCATION: University of Pennsylvania (B.A.); UNC-Chapel Hill (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: “Serving as in-house counsel, I have been fortunate to have spent my career working with a dedicated team of intelligent, ethical, experienced and passionate professionals. My clients communicate the mission and responsibility of being health care providers every day. This organizational culture provides an exceptionally strong foundation upon which I provide legal guidance in an interesting and wide variety of areas of the law,” Balter said.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Health law, employment law, corporate governance, transactions and financing
 

CHRISTOPHER K. BEHM

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Construction (Also named to Super Lawyers- Construction Litigation)
FIRM: Block, Crouch, Keeter, Behm & Sayed LLP
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
 

RYAN BISPLINGHOFF

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Litigation
FIRM: McAngus Goudelock & Courie
TITLE: Managing Partner
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A.); Campbell University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Bisplinghoff is a boardcertified specialist in workers’ compensation law. He regularly represents a wide variety of employers, carriers and third-party administrators in all stages of workers’ compensation litigation before the N.C. Industrial Commission and North Carolina appellate courts. He currently serves on the board of directors for Kid’s Chance of North Carolina, a nonprofit devoted to providing scholarships to children whose parents were severely injured or killed in workplace accidents. In December 2014, after practicing with the same firm for seven years, he expanded the firm’s footprint to the coast, opening MGC’s Wilmington office.
AREA OF FOCUS: Workers’ compensation
 

ALGERNON L. BUTLER III

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Bankruptcy (Also named to Super Lawyers- Bankruptcy: Business)
FIRM: Butler & Butler LLP TITLE: Managing Partner
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A. and J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Butler represents businesses and individuals, both debtors and creditors, in connection with financial workouts, debt restructurings and bankruptcy reorganizations and liquidations. 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 on 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 defense. He is certified by the N.C. State Bar Board of Legal Specialization and American Board of Certification as a specialist in both business bankruptcy and consumer bankruptcy law.
 

OLIVER CARTER III

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Bankruptcy
FIRM: Carter & Carter, P.A.
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A.); New York University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Carter has been practicing with Carter & Carter since 2009. He primarily represents lenders and borrowers in connection with distressed debt, commercial disputes and bankruptcy. He is certified as a specialist in creditors’ rights by the American Board of Certification and as a specialist in both business and consumer bankruptcy by the N.C. State Bar. He also assists small businesses and their principals with respect to corporate governance and financing. Carter serves on the board of The Cape Fear Council of the Boy Scouts of America. In 2020, he served as a regional director for the N.C. Voter Protection Program.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Creditors’ rights and corporate disputes
 

STEPHEN COBLE

 CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Litigation (Also named to 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
 

ALEX C. DALE

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Appellate
FIRM: Ward and Smith PA
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A. and M.A.); Duke University School of Law (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Dale’s practice experience encompasses a broad range of business law matters, including experience representing individuals, startups, small businesses and multinational companies in a variety of fields. His experience includes transactional matters, corporate governance, business organization and planning, contract negotiation, estate litigation and complex business litigation.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Appellate practice, corporate governance, business and commercial litigation, copyright and trademark law, public body representation, media law, homeowners association representation and securities litigation
 

G. STEPHEN DIAB

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Business (Also named to Super Lawyers- Mergers & Acquisitions)
FIRM: Murchison, Taylor & Gibson PLLC
TITLE: Member/Partner EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.S. and J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Diab received the most votes in North Carolina this year for the Legal Elite-Business category, joining the Legal Elite Hall of Fame. He is a certified public accountant (N.C. silver medalist, 1986 Uniform CPA Exam) and member of the N.C. Association of Certified Public Accountants. Diab has served on the boards of directors for the New Hanover Regional Medical Center Foundation, Hill School of Wilmington Inc., Wilmington West Rotary Club and The Eshelman Foundation.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Mergers and acquisitions, trusts and estates, corporate law and business and tax planning
 

SAMUEL B. FRANCK

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Real Estate
FIRM: Ward and Smith P.A.
TITLE: Attorney EDUCATION: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (B.S.); College of William & Mary Law School (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Franck leads Ward and Smith’s Real Estate practice and is certified by the N.C. State Bar as a board-certified specialist in Real Property Law: Commercial Transactions. His practice experience includes all aspects of commercial real estate development and transactions, as well as community association matters. He regularly assists commercial and residential developers in the entitlement, acquisition, subdivision, development and sale of real property, including the formation of complex, mixed-use planned communities, commercial and residential condominiums and multitenant commercial projects.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Zoning and land use, commercial real estate acquisition, financing, development, subdivision and sale; development of condominiums and planned communities and mixed-use projects; condominium/ community association law; Interstate Land Sales Act compliance and issues
 

VANESSA GONZALEZ

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Immigration
FIRM: The Law Office of Vanessa Gonzalez
TITLE: President/Attorney EDUCATION: UNC-Pembroke (B.A.); UNC-Chapel Hill (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Gonzalez has 10 years of experience assisting individuals to obtain and maintain lawful immigration status, petition relatives, naturalize and defend them from deportation or removal from the U.S. She has also represented clients in traffic and family law matters specifically affecting the undocumented community. She serves on the boards of the YWCA Lower Cape Fear, Going Beyond the Pink and Feast Down East and is a member of New Hanover For All and Coastal Women Attorneys.
AREA OF FOCUS: Immigration law
 

H. MARK H. HAMLET

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Construction (Also named to Super Lawyers- Construction Litigation) FIRM: Hamlet & Associates PLLC
TITLE: Managing Partner
EDUCATION: Wake Forest University (B.A.); Campbell University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Hamlet worked for several years with a large, regional firm representing clients from local contractors to Fortune 500 companies. He formed his own firm in 2012.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Construction, litigation, health care and mediation
 

JESSICA SOLES HUMPHRIES

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Construction (Also named to Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Civil Litigation/Defense) Humphries
FIRM: Hamlet & Associates PLLC
TITLE: Associate Attorney
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill; Campbell University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Humphries has over eight years of experience representing general contractors, developers and subcontractors against construction defect and personal injury claims in North and South Carolina. She has also represented municipalities and governmental entities in condemnation and inverse condemnation matters. She serves on the boards of Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity, the New Hanover County Bar Association and the Coastal Women Attorneys, a chapter of the N.C. Association of Women Attorneys Inc.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Construction law, civil litigation, land use and real estate development, eminent domain
 

JUSTIN K. HUMPHRIES

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Real Estate (Also named to Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Business/Corporate)
FIRM: The Humphries Law Firm
TITLE: Partner
EDUCATION: University of South Carolina (B.S.); Campbell University (J.D.) Humphries
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Humphries is dually licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. He has appeared before the N.C. Appellate Courts on several occasions and has practiced maritime law in various Federal Districts.
AREA OF FOCUS: Civil litigation and real estate
 

EMILY C. JONES

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Criminal, Family and Young Guns
FIRM: Burney & Jones PLLC
TITLE: Owner EDUCATION: N.C. State (B.S.); Charlotte School of Law (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Jones notes a highlight as “being able to advocate for all clients, including indigent clients, in both New Hanover and Pender Counties to ensure that each client, regardless of income, race or background, has quality representation.”
AREAS OF FOCUS: DWI, criminal defense, juvenile delinquency, traffic and family law
 

JILL PETERS KAESS

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Tax/Estate Planning (Also named to Super Lawyers-Estate Planning & Probate)
FIRM: Lee Kaess PLLC
TITLE: Partner
EDUCATION: UNCW (B.S.); Wake Forest University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Peters Kaess is a member of the Trusts and Estates team in the firm’s Wilmington office. She assists clients in drafting and executing comprehensive estate plans, with specific emphasis on estate tax, gift tax and charitable gift planning. She also assists fiduciaries, such as executors and trustees, on matters involving estate and trust administration. Peters Kaess is a Certified Public Accountant, a board-certified specialist in estate planning and probate law by the N.C. State Bar and a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Taxation and wealth planning; trust and estate law and administration
 

HENRY L. “HAL” KITCHIN JR.

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Litigation (Also named to Legal Elite-Hall of Fame-Antitrust)
FIRM: McGuireWoods
TITLE: Partner
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A.); Wake Forest University (J.D.) Kitchin
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
 

JEFFREY P. KEETER

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Real Estate (Also named to Super Lawyers-Real Estate)
FIRM: Block, Crouch, Keeter, Behm & Sayed, LLP
TITLE: Partner Keeter EDUCATION: Campbell University (B.S. and J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Keeter’s entire professional career has been in Wilmington. He previously practiced with Rountree & Seagle LLP and Carr, Swails, Huffine, Crouch & Keeter LLP. He has been a partner at Block, Crouch, Keeter, Behm & Sayed LLP since the law firm’s inception in 1996. He has served as a member of the New Hanover County Bar Association, N.C. Bar Association Law Practice Management Section Council and N.C. Bar Association member (Real Estate, Business and Estate Planning, and Fiduciary Law Sections).
AREAS OF FOCUS: Business law (formation, representation, acquisitions and sales), real estate law (commercial and residential), estate planning and administration
 

REBECCA A. KNUDSON

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Construction (Also named to Super Lawyers- Construction Litigation)
FIRM: Cranfill Sumner LLP TITLE: Partner
EDUCATION: UNCW (B.A.); Northeastern University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Knudson focuses her civil litigation practice on matters concerning construction law, business law, community association law and other complex litigation matters. Her experience includes representing builders, developers, homeowner association boards, product manufacturers and other business professionals in contract, construction defect, business and lien disputes.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Construction, litigation, business, community association law, appellate law
 

JAMES W. LEA III

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Family (Also named to 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 41 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 25 years. For over 15 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 LEE

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Real Estate (Also named to Super Lawyers- Real Estate)
FIRM: Lee Kaess PLLC
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A.); Wake Forest University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Lee started the Lee Law Firm in 2012. Lee joined with Jill Kaess to form the law firm of Lee Kaess PLLC. He has earned the Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating; Business North Carolina’s Legal Elite 2007, 2009-20; North Carolina Super Lawyers 2009-20; and 2014 Best of the Best, Top 100 North Carolina Super Lawyers. He was also selected by his peers multiple years for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America and U.S. News’ Best Law Firm list and in 2020 was selected as a 26th Edition “Lawyer of the Year” for his work in Real Estate Law in Wilmington. Lee served in the N.C. Senate 2014-18 and is currently serving in his third term in the N.C. Senate. Lee previously served on the N.C. Board of Transportation and N.C. State Ports Authority Board as its chairman.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Commercial real estate, land use and zoning
 

ANDREW MCVEY

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Litigation (Also named to Super Lawyers- Employment & Labor)
FIRM: Murchison, Taylor & Gibson PLLC
TITLE: Member
EDUCATION: Wake Forest University (B.A. and J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: “Arguing before the N.C. Supreme Court on my 33rd birthday, being part of a litigation team that obtained a total verdict in excess of $24 million on behalf of an individual defamation plaintiff in federal court; defending cases that needed to be tried to verdict and resolving others that needed to be settled.”
AREAS OF FOCUS: Civil litigation, employment, business law, homeowners association representation, mediation
 

PATRICK M. MINCEY

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Criminal and Litigation (Also named to Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Criminal Defense/ White Collar)
FIRM: Cranfill Sumner LLP
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: Davidson College (B.A.); Mercer University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Mincey focuses his practice on white-collar criminal defense. He represents companies, health care institutions, boards of directors, executives, public officials and other professionals in government investigations, corporate crises and sensitive matters. He defends clients in prosecutions of federal and state governments, clients who are frequently entangled in simultaneous civil, criminal and regulatory investigations.
AREAS OF FOCUS: White-collar criminal defense and government investigations
 

WILLIAM A. ODEN III

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Employment (Also named to Super Lawyers- Employment & Labor)
FIRM: Ward and Smith P.A.
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A.); Campbell University (J.D. and M.B.A.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Oden’s practice focuses on the representation of management in employment, occupational safety and health, and workers’ compensation matters. Oden is a former president of both the New Hanover County Bar Association and 5th Judicial District Bar and a 2019 recipient of the N.C. Bar Association’s Citizen Lawyer Award.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Employment law, employment litigation, occupational safety and health and workers’ compensation
 

CHRISTOPHER L. ORING

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Criminal
FIRM: Oring Law Firm PLLC
EDUCATION: University of Akron (B.A.); University of Toledo (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Oring was the top vote-getter in the Legal Elite-Criminal category, meaning he will join the category’s Hall of Fame. According to his website, he has more than 15 years of experience resolving cases of all levels of complexity. He is admitted to practice law in North Carolina and Ohio and is a member of the N.C. Bar Association and the N.C. Association of Trial Lawyers. Oring serves clients throughout New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick counties.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Criminal law, traffic violations, DWI, general practice, drug crimes, expungements, driver’s license suspension
 

LEEANNE QUATTRUCCI

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Family Law
FIRM: The Law Office of LeeAnne Quattrucci
TITLE: Managing Attorney
EDUCATION: Wake Forest University (B.S.); UNC-Chapel Hill (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Quattrucci opened her law practice in 2011. She has been voted Wilmington’s Best Attorney by Wilmington Magazine and received the Pro Bono Publico Award from Legal Aid of North Carolina. Quattrucci has been a featured speaker at various CLEs across the country and completed over 500 adoptions. She is the guardian ad litem attorney for New Hanover and Pender counties. Additionally, she sits on the alumni board at Carolina Law and on the board of several nonprofit organizations.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Family law, juvenile, domestic and immigration
 

JOEL R. RHINE

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Construction and Litigation (Also named to Super Lawyers Top 100 list and Super Lawyers- Personal Injury General: Plaintiff)
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, data breach and institutional sexual abuse for more than 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
 

LINDA B. SAYED

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Family Law (Also named to Super Lawyers- Family Law)
FIRM: Block, Crouch, Keeter, Behm & Sayed, LLP
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 LLP 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 former president of Coastal Women Attorneys. She serves on the NHRMC Foundation Board as vice chairman and on the UNCW Foundation Board.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Divorce, custody, child support, alimony, property division, separation agreements, premarital agreements and adoptions
 

BENTON L. TOUPS

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Employment and Litigation (Also named to Super Lawyers- Employment & Labor)
FIRM: Cranfill Sumner LLP
TITLE: Partner
EDUCATION: Louisiana State University (B.A. and J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: “I remember every sincere ‘thank you’ I get from a client. Those are the highlights.”
AREAS OF FOCUS: Toups handles all aspects of employment law, from drafting and negotiating employment contracts to litigating discrimination, harassment and wage/ hour cases before various government agencies and state and federal courts. In addition to his employment practice, Toups represents clients in commercial litigation matters, including claims for breach of contract, unfair and deceptive trade practices and misappropriation of trade secrets. He is also a certified mediator.
 

THOMAS G. VARNUM

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Intellectual Property (Also named to Super Lawyers-Rising Stars: Intellectual Property)
FIRM: Brooks Pierce McLendon Humphrey & Leonard
TITLE: Partner
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A.); University of California, Davis (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: In his intellectual property practice, Varnum helps clients acquire, protect, enforce and exploit their trademarks, copyrights and other intellectual property assets. He also represents individuals and companies active in film projects and other types of entertainment media. At other times, Varnum provides general business counseling to all types of businesses in the region. He serves as a board of director member for the Brigade Boys & Girls Club in Wilmington.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Intellectual property, entertainment law (film and TV), civil litigation and general business counseling
 

JASON VAUGHN

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Family
FIRM: Law Office of Jason Vaughn
TITLE: Managing Member
EDUCATION: MCRD San Diego (USMC); Mount Olive College (B.S.); N.C. Central University (J.D.) CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: 2014-18 Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Rating, highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards; 2015- 17 National Association of Distinguished Counsel, Nation’s Top One Percent; American Institute of Family Law Attorneys, 10 Best Client Satisfaction; American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys, 10 Best Client Satisfaction
AREAS OF FOCUS: Family law, criminal law, civil litigation
 

BRETT WENTZ

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Criminal
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-state and federal
 

EDWIN L. WEST III

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Criminal (Also named to Super Lawyers- Criminal Defense)
FIRM: Brooks Pierce McLendon Humphrey & Leonard
TITLE: Partner
EDUCATION: Hampden- Sydney College (B.A.); Wake Forest University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Whether resolving matters quietly or fighting in the courts, West works with his clients to find the best solutions, according to the firm. “Some of my best work has happened quietly behind the scenes, protecting the reputation of a business or individual by making the issue go away,” West said. “I work with professionals in the midst of a crisis, helping them navigate not only the legal side of the situation, but also the PR side.”
AREAS OF FOCUS: White-collar criminal defense, crisis management, complex business and corporate litigation, professional liability litigation
 

WOODY WHITE

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Criminal (Also named to 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; state senator in 2004; Lower Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity Board Trustee 2006-07; New Hanover County Board of Commissioners 2012- 20, including as chairman 2012-14 and 2016-18; 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
 

JORDAN DUHE WILLETTS

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Young Guns Duhe Willets
FIRM: Duhe Willetts Law
EDUCATION: Guilford College (B.S.); Washington and Lee University (J.D.)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Jordan developed a passion for criminal defense in law school, and she started Duhe Willetts Law in 2014. Jordan is one of only two board-certified state criminal law specialists in Brunswick County. She is a member of the N.C. State Bar and N.C. Bar Association. Willetts is also involved in the Junior League of Wilmington, Coastal Women Attorneys and Lawyers for Literacy Brunswick County.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Criminal offenses ranging from minor traffic violations to first-degree murder
 

JEREMY M. WILSON

CATEGORY: Legal Elite-Young Guns (Also named to Super Lawyers- Rising Stars: Personal Injury General/Plaintiff)
FIRM: Ward and Smith P.A.
TITLE: Attorney
EDUCATION: UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A.); Duke University (M.P.P.); UNC School of Law (J.D.)
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. Wilson’s wide-ranging experience also includes other areas of litigation such as business, insurance coverage and eminent domain cases.
AREAS OF FOCUS: Personal injury and wrongful death, medical malpractice, premises liability, product liability, nursing home liability, class actions, business litigation, insurance coverage litigation, eminent domain and appellate law

 HALL OF FAME

Local attorneys named to the Legal Elite Hall of Fame means they received the most votes in their category in a particular year and are not eligible for the annual lists. The firm listed is where they worked when they were added.
  • CHARLES BALDWIN IV, Brooks Pierce McLendon Humphrey & Leonard (Business/2015);
  • DANIEL BRAWLEY, Williams Mullen (Litigation/2012);
  • B. JUDD HARTMAN, PPD (Corporate Counsel/ 2009);
  • HENRY L. “HAL” KITCHIN JR., McGuireWoods LLP (Antitrust/2019);
  • WILLIAM MASON, MacCord Mason (Intellectual Property/2011);
  • JEAN SUTTON MARTIN, Law Office of Jean Sutton Martin (Litigation/2016)
Ico insights

INSIGHTS

SPONSORS' CONTENT
Kellyerola headshot lcflc

What Is LifeCare?

Kelly Erola - Lower Cape Fear LifeCare
Jeremytomlinson enfuse headshot

Repair Or Replace? 7 Signs That You Need A New Computer

Jeremy Tomlinson - Enfuse Technology Solutions
Aaeaaqaaaaaaaaidaaaajdhiztrkodm0lte2yjetngrkmy1hotrmltawmdvlmwqyztmymw

Entrepreneurs Tap Into Answers With Givitas

Diane Durance - UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Trending News

Novant Names New Presidents Of NHRMC, Brunswick Medical Center

Scott Nunn - Apr 20, 2021

Corey Spell Joins Beach & Barn

Christina Haley O'Neal - Apr 20, 2021

After Sale Announcement, Area Officials Discuss PPD's Impact On Wilmington

Christina Haley O'Neal - Apr 19, 2021

Downtown Manufacturer Snags First WDI Microloan

Jenny Callison - Apr 20, 2021

Lynn Harris Earns Century 21 Ranking

Christina Haley O'Neal - Apr 20, 2021

In The Current Issue

Building Health Care Innovators

Those with an interest in innovation and solving health care problems can exercise their entrepreneurial spirit and earn a certificate while...


Coping With Ongoing Appliance Shortage

An appliance shortage stemming from multiple factors, COVID-19 being the major one, has been going on for the better part of a year and does...


Pleasure Island Chamber Shaking Things Up

The Pleasure Island chamber recently announced changes to the organization....

Book On Business

The 2021 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!


Galleries

Videos

Trying to Grow a Business?
2020 Health Care Heroes
2020 WilmingtonBiz 100