Charlotte Region: Legal Elite

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March 1, 2024

legal elite Charlotte region


Each year, SouthPark’s sister publication, Business North Carolina, publishes a list of the state’s Legal Elite, attorneys chosen by their peers as being top in their field. To identify the 23rd Legal Elite class, Business North Carolina contracted DataJoe Research, a Boulder, Colorado-based software and research company specializing in data collection and verification. 

DataJoe facilitated an online peer-voting process of all active members of the North Carolina Bar. Attorneys without an active license or who had disciplinary infractions were excluded from the list. Lawyers can’t vote for themselves or for members of the Legal Elite Hall of Fame (previous top vote-getters in a particular specialty). Votes for attorneys from another firm are weighted more heavily than votes for colleagues at the same firm. For research/methodology questions, contact the research team at

DataJoe and Business North Carolina recognize that there are many talented lawyers who are not listed. This is a subset of talented professionals across the state. Inclusion in the list is based on the opinions of responding lawyers in North Carolina. DataJoe thoroughly ensures fair voting, but the company understands that the results of this survey nomination and internet research campaign are not an objective metric.

This year, about 1,300 lawyers were selected to the Legal Elite. In this section, we highlight Legal Elite winners practicing in selected specialties in the Charlotte region. To view the full list, visit:


David R. Badger, David R. Badger

Paul Rudd Baynard, Offit Kurman Attorneys At Law

Stacy C. Cordes, Cordes Law

Robert Cox, Hamilton Stephens Steele + Martin

Hillary B. Crabtree, Moore & Van Allen

Ashley A. Edwards, Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein

William L. Esser IV, Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein

Joseph W. Grier III, Grier Wright Martinez

Stephen E. Gruendel, Moore & Van Allen

Cole Hayes, Hayes Law

Andrew Thomas Houston, Moon Wright & Houston

Michael Leon Martinez, Grier Wright Martinez PA

Jack Miller, Rayburn Cooper & Durham

Ashley B. Oldfield, Rayburn Cooper & Durham

Felton E. Parrish, Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor

Alan W. Pope, Moore & Van Allen

Charles Richard Rayburn III, Rayburn Cooper & Durham

Glenn Clark Thompson, Hamilton Stephens Steele + Martin

Landon Van Winkle, Smith Debnam Narron Drake Saintsing & Myers

Matthew Alexander Winer, Hamilton Stephens Steele + Martin

Hall of Fame: J. Michael Booe, Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman (2002, 2003); C. Richard Rayburn Jr., Rayburn Cooper & Durham (2006); Richard S. Wright, Moon Wright & Houston (2016); Heather W. Culp, Essex Richards (2017); John “Woody” C. Woodman, Essex Richards (2021); Matt Tomsic, Rayburn Cooper & Durham (2023)


Justin Evan Agans, Spengler & Agans

Catherine A. Barnes, James, McElroy & Diehl

William P. Bray, Bray & Long 

Scott Cooper, Rayburn Cooper & Durham 

Heather Culp*, Essex Richards 

Joshua B. Durham, Bell, Davis & Pitt 

Joseph A. Fernandez, Moore & Van Allen 

Milton Heath Gilbert Jr., Baucom, Claytor, Benton, Morgan & Wood 

Nathan M. Hull, Hull & Chandler 

Nick Kendall, Johnston Allison Hord 

Katherine Kliebert, Kliebert Law 

Christopher Henry Kouri, Nexsen Pruet 

Robert R. Marcus, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings 

Jeffrey Michael McCraw, Crisp Cherry McCraw 

Carolyn P. Meade, Moore & Van Allen 

Joseph William Norman, Moore & Van Allen 

David Scott Rugani, Johnston Allison Hord 

Robert Rust, Moore & Van Allen 

Caroline Wannamaker Sink, Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson 

George W. Sistrunk III, Hamilton Stephens Steele + Martin 

Bryan Lee Tyson, Marcellino & Tyson 

Elizabeth Vennum, Hull & Chandler 

Hall of Fame: Russell M. Robinson II, Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson (2002; 2003); J. Norfleet Pruden III, Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman (2005); Robin L. Hinson, Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson (2007); Peter C. Buck, Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson (2008); Stephen M. Lynch, Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson (2011); Matthew Marcellino, Marcellino & Tyson PLLC (2020); Daniel Stephen Trimmer, Skufca Law (2022)


Timothy Michael Cannady, Jetton Meredith PLLC 

Christine Elizabeth Clarke-Peckham, Chrissy Clarke-Peckham 

Christopher A. Connelly, Christopher A. Connelly 

James J. Exum, JJ Exum Law 

Christopher C. Fialko, Fialko Law 

Elizabeth Freeman Greene, Flannery Georgalis 

Lambert Franklin Guinn, Flannery Georgalis 

Adam Hauser, Mecklenburg County Public Defender’s Office 

Banks Hudson Huntley, Banks Huntley 

Bradford F. Icard, Icard Law 

George V. Laughrun III, Goodman, Carr, Laughrun, Levine & Greene 

Aaron Raymond Lee, Lee & Lee, Huntersville

Thomas Courtenay Leitner Jr., Leitner, Bragg & Griffin, Monroe

Keith Brentten Metz, Metz Law 

C. Melissa “Missy” Owen, Tin Fulton Walker & Owen 

Gregory Plumides, Plumides, Romano & Johnson 

Bill Powers, Powers Law 

Claire J. Rauscher, Womble Bond Dickinson 

Eben Turner Rawls III, Rawls, Scheer, Clary & Mingo 

Tony Scheer, Rawls, Scheer, Clary & Mingo 

Adam M. Seifer, SeiferFlatow 

Ronald James Shook II, Ronald J. Shook, Gastonia

Noell P. Tin, Tin Fulton Walker & Owen 

Anne M. Tompkins, Cadwaladar 

Otha B. Townsend, Seegars & Townsend 

Hall of Fame: James F. Wyatt III, Wyatt & Blake (2005); James P. Cooney III, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice (2008); T. Patrick Matus II (died July 18, 2023), Essex Richards (2010); David S. Rudolf, Rudolf, Widenhouse & Fialko (2011); Michael J. Greene, Goodman, Carr, Laughrun, Levine & Greene (2014); Robert K. Corbett III, Law Offices of Harold Cogdell Jr. (2015); Ryan T. Smith, RTS Law Group (2016); George V. Laughrun II, Goodman, Carr, Laughrun, Levine & Greene (2017); Rob Heroy, Goodman, Carr, Laughrun, Levine & Greene (2023)


Matthew Robert Arnold, Arnold & Smith 

Ashley B. Bonomini, Sodoma Law North 

Chad M. Buckingham, Regent Law 

Laura B. Burt, Wofford Burt 

Adrienne R. Cherry, Leitner, Bragg & Griffin, Monroe 

Holden Blake Clark, Hometown Counsel, Gastonia

Stephen Corby, Emblem Legal 

Amanda Marie Cubit, Dozier Miller Law Group 

Nicholas Lee Cushing, Miller Bowles Cushing 

Paul A. DeJesse Jr., Hatcher Law Group 

Kavita Christina Desai, James, McElroy & Diehl 

Nicole Applefield Engel, Johnston Allison Hord 

David W. Erdman, Erdman Hockfield 

Candace Strickland Faircloth, Collins Family Law Group, Monroe

Jonathan Daniel Feit, James, McElroy & Diehl 

Joshua L. Finney, Sodoma Law 

Kyle Frost, Offit Kurman 

Maren Tallent Funk, Godley Glazer + Funk, Mooresville

Chelsea Elise Gajewski, Sodoma Law 

Kaylan M. Gaudio, Sodoma Law 

Seth Andrew Glazer, Godley Glazer + Funk, Mooresville

Marli Dabareiner Grady, Godley Glazer + Funk, Cornelius

Jordan Marie Griffin, Leitner, Bragg & Griffin, Monroe

Tia G. Hartley, Tia G. Hartley 

James Gregory Hatcher, Hatcher Law Group 

Penelope Lazarou Hefner, Sodoma Law 

Kimberly Herron, Law Office of Tamela T. Wallace 

Paul Doughton Horton, Sodoma Law 

Christine Houston, Collins Family & Elder Law Group, Monroe

Richard B. Johnson, Plumides, Romano & Johnson 

Jana Kelly Jones, Jana K. Jones 

David Meade Kern, James, McElroy & Diehl 

Irene Patrice King, King Collaborative Family Law 

Kate A.D. Kovats, Law Office of Kate A.D. Kovats 

Carolyn Lovejoy Krueger-Andes, Hamilton Stephens Steele + Martin 

David Matthew Krusch, Plumides, Romano & Johnson 

Daniel Larson, Duncan Larson Law 

Dara Duncan Larson, Duncan Larson Law 

Lydia Bree Laughrun, Essex Richards 

Kyle Wesley LeBlanc, Hamilton Stephens Steele + Martin 

Lauren Vaughn Lewis, Essex Richards 

Alexa Noelle Litt, Collins Family & Elder Law Group, Monroe

David Michael McCleary, Dozier Miller Law Group 

Christopher D. Miller, Miller Bowles Cushing 

Jennifer P. Moore, Marcellino & Tyson 

Gena G. Morris, James, McElroy & Diehl 

Bethany M. Mulhern, Miller Bowles Cushing 

Erica R. Nesmith, The Nesmith Firm 

Corey Alexander Noland, Arnold & Smith 

Steven Blaine Ockerman, Epperson Law Group 

Katherine Adkins Rech, Rech Law 

Andrew Charles Rheingrover, Conrad Trosch & Kemmy 

Mark D. Riopel, Hamilton Stephens Steele + Martin 

Kimberly R. Robertson, Dozier Miller Law Group 

Rachel D. Rogers Hamrick, Tom Bush Law Group 

William F. Rogers Jr., Billick Rogers, Concord

Michael Romano, Plumides, Romano & Johnson 

Claire Joanne Samuels Collaborative Divorce Professionals 

David Kenneth Self, David Self Law, Cornelius

Sean P. Smith, Grasersmith 

Tonya Graser Smith, Grasersmith 

John Paul Tsahakis, James, McElroy & Diehl 

Meghan A. Van Vynckt, Cordes Law 

Theresa Eileen Viera, Modern Legal 

Tamela T. Wallace, Law Office of Tamela T. Wallace 

Danielle Jessica Walle, Marcellino & Tyson 

Anna N. Westmoreland, Westmoreland Legal 

Rebecca Wofford, Wofford Burt 

Tiasha L. Wray, Wray Law Firm 

Hall of Fame: Richard D. Stephens, Dozier, Miller, Pollard & Murphy (2009); Stan Brown, Hamilton Stephens Steele + Martin (2013); Rob Blair, Essex Richards (2016); Ketan P. Soni, Soni Brendle (2023)


Mary Burgett Ashley, Ashley Law Firm 

Holly S. Bannerman, Moore & Van Allen 

Catherine Price Barr, Johnston Allison Hord 

Paul H. Bass, Law Office of Paul H. Bass 

Kenneth R. Benton, Baucom, Claytor, Benton, Morgan & Wood 

Justin Nicholas Bolling, Bolling & Ghannam 

John R. Buben Jr., Johnston Allison Hord 

William Richardson Daughtrey, Alexander Ricks 

Matthew Peter Doyle, Doyle Wallace 

James Scott Efird, St. Amand & Efird 

Randall Wayne Faircloth, Regent Law 

Walter D. Fisher Jr., Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders 

Jonathan Peter Goldberg, Alexander Ricks 

Austin Grabowski, Grabowski Law Firm 

Stephanie E. Greer Fulcher, Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders 

Jonathan Robert Hankin, Hankin Law 

Mark Joseph Hanson, Alexander Ricks 

Janeen Hogue, Miller-Hogue Law 

Susan K. Irvin, Irvin Law Group, Cornelius

Brooks F. Jaffa, Cranford, Buckley, Schultze, Tomchin, Allen & Buie 

William B. Kirk Jr., Kirk Palmer & Thigpen 

William F. Kirk, Regent Law 

Allen Crosby Livingston III, Knipp Law 

Timothy P. Logan, Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein 

Joseph R. Marek, Johnston Allison Hord 

LaDeidre Dianne Matthews, Fox Rothschild 

William C. Matthews, Womble Bond Dickinson 

Andrew Martin McCullough, Venn Law Group 

Gary T. McDermott, McDermott Law, Waxhaw

Daniel Adam Merlin, Alexander Ricks 

Peter F. Morgan, Peter F. Morgan 

David William Murray, Murray Law Firm 

Jeanne A. Pearson, Johnston Allison Hord 

John F. Renger III, Renger & Reynolds 

Lawrence Joseph Shaheen Jr., McIntosh Law Firm, Davidson

Daniel A. Terry, Terry Law Firm 

Mark V. Thigpin, King & Spalding 

Henry Frazier Wallace II, Doyle Wallace 

Cameron Todd Ware, Johnston Allison Hord 

Hall of Fame: Brent A. Torstrick, Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson (2006); Timothy G. Sellers, Sellers, Hinshaw, Ayers, Dortch & Lyons (2010); George W. Sistrunk III, Hamilton Stephens Steele + Martin (2012); Diana R. Palecek, Fox Rothschild (2021)


S. Kyle Agee, Johnston Allison Hord 

Michael F. Anderson, Anderson Law Firm 

Brian Carl Bernhardt, Fox Rothschild 

Julie Marion Bradlow, Darrow Everett 

John J. Carpenter, Culp Elliott & Carpenter 

Christian P. Cherry, Crisp Cherry McCraw 

Thomas A. Cooper, AustinCooper 

Charles M. Crisp, Crisp Cherry McCraw 

Stephanie Daniel, Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick 

Janice L. Davies, Davies Law 

John W. Forneris, Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson 

C. Wells Hall III, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough 

Christopher E. Hannum, Culp Elliott & Carpenter 

Robyn Alise Hicks-Guinn, Hicks Guinn Law

Mary C. Immen, Cranford, Buckley, Schultze, Tomchin, Allen & Buie 

Kelly Rains Jesson, Jesson & Rains 

Jacob A. Johnson, Robertson & Associates 

Warren P. Kean, Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick 

Margaret Troy Kocaj, Kocaj Consulting 

David Tyler Lewis, Johnston Allison Hord 

Robert D. Lyerly Jr., Nexsen Pruet 

William Lee Mills IV, Culp, Elliott & Carpenter 

Holly Berry Harris Norvell, Johnston Allison Hord 

Tanya Nicole Oesterreich, Oesterreich Law, Concord

Erin Bray Patterson, Erin Patterson Law 

Christian Lee Perrin, Perrin Legal 

Heidi Elizabeth Royal, Heidi E. Royal Law 

Maria Magdalena Satterfield, Satterfield Legal 

Joseph D. Shealy, Johnston Allison Hord 

Jeneva Alicia Vazquez, Bray & Long 

Connie J. Vetter, Connie J. Vetter 

Hall of Fame: W. Curtis Elliott Jr., Culp Elliott & Carpenter (2004); Ray S. Farris, Johnston Allison Hord (2005); Christy Eve Reid (died May 8, 2014), Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson (2009); Graham D. Holding Jr., Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson (2012); Debra L. Foster, Foster Royal (2017); Jessica Mering Hardin, Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson (2021); Brooks Jaffa, Cranford, Buckley Schultze, Tomchin, Allen & Buie (2022)


Helen Somerville Baddour, Johnson & Groninger 

Elizabeth Buckner, Moore & Van Allen 

Katie Burchette, Johnston Allison Hord 

Diane B. Burks, Katten Muchin Rosenman 

David Busch, Alexander Ricks 

James Bradley Cheek, Rogers Patrick Westbrook & Brickman 

Mikail Orestes Clark, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton 

Tyler Andrew Diekhaus, Jones Childers Donaldson Webb, Mooresville

Alexis Gadzinski, Marcellino & Tyson 

James Van Cleave Gambrell, Moore & Van Allen 

Meredith Hamilton, Ogletree Deakins 

Fielding E. Huseth, Moore & Van Allen 

Mary Scott Kennedy, K&L Gates 

Anna Gray LeBlanc, Offit Kurman Attorneys at Law 

Benjamin Leighton, Alexander Ricks 

Alexa Noelle Litt, Collins Family & Elder Law Group, Monroe

Jeremy Scott Maddox, Law Offices of James Scott Farrin 

Alexia Virginia Martin, Skufca Law 

Kelsey Nicole Hendry Mayo, Poyner Spruill 

Jackson Connelly Pridgen, Johnston Allison & Hord 

Elizabeth Ann Ray, CR Legal Team 

C. Cowden W. Rayburn, Moore & Van Allen 

Keith Manning Rivenbark, Marcellino & Tyson 

Joseph Robert Shealy, Katten Muchin Rosenman

Samuel Benjamin Simmons, Crisp Cherry McCraw 

Isla N. Tabrizi, Collins Family & Elder Law Group, Monroe

Jennifer W. Winkler, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough 

Hall of Fame: J. Christian Stevenson, Kirk Palmer & Thigpen PA (2012); Aaron Lay, Hamilton Stephens Steele + Martin (2016); Matthew T. Marcellino, Marcellino & Tyson (2018); Nancy S. Litwak, Rosenwood, Rose & Litwak (2019); Holden B. Clark, Holden B. Clark, Attorney at Law, Gastonia (2021); Carl Burchette, Rosenwood, Rose & Litwak (2022)

Disclaimers: DataJoe uses best practices and exercises great care in assembling content for this list. DataJoe does not warrant that the data contained within the list are complete or accurate. DataJoe does not assume, and hereby disclaims, any liability to any person for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions herein whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident or any other cause. All rights reserved. No commercial use of the information in this list may be made without written permission from DataJoe.  SP

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