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Lawyers In The News 07-19-10

Lawyers In The News 07-19-10

Litigation attorney Larry Gwaltney has been elected to serve as a member of the Legal Services of Southern Piedmont’s board of directors for a three-year term.

Gwaltney is a co-team leader of Moore & Van Allen’s litigation practice group, and his practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, including class-action and multidistrict litigation over ERISA and other fiduciary duty disputes, ESOP valuation, management liability, and health benefit litigation. Gwaltney has appeared before federal district courts in North Carolina, as well as in California, Minnesota, North Dakota, Illinois, Alabama, Missouri and Virginia.

He has also assisted countries around the world in establishing the rule of law, including providing assistance to the governments of Afghanistan, Mauritius, South Africa and Serbia and Montenegro.

Raleigh lawyer Kris Gardner was awarded the Apple Gavel Award by the North Carolina Bar Association’s Law-Related Education Advisory Committee for his work in updating and organizing the LRE website.

As part of the website upgrade, Gardner helped convert educational paper documents to an electronic format. He also organized them by category and posted them on the LRE website, Students and teachers now have electronic access to materials about the government, the courts and the law without having to check them out manually.

Gardner practices alcoholic beverage control law, local government law and litigation at Tharrington Smith.

Patricia P. Kerner has been voted president-elect for the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys. She is a partner with Troutman Sanders in Raleigh. Kerner will become president of the association at its next annual meeting in June 2011.

She will be only the fourth woman in the association’s 34-year history to serve as its president, and the second Troutman Sanders partner to serve in this role. Raleigh partner Gary S. Parsons served as NCADA’s president from 2003-2004.

Kerner’s practice focuses primarily on the areas of civil litigation and administrative law, with emphasis on the defense of attorney malpractice claims, products liability and personal injury actions and insurance coverage disputes. She received her J.D. from the University of North Carolina in 1985 and a B.A., cum laude, from Wake Forest University in 1982.

Attorney Brandon Shelton, a shareholder with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, has joined its Charlotte office. Previously, he was with the firm’s Indianapolis office.

Shelton represents employers in employment and labor law matters. He defends employers in class actions, multi-plaintiff and individual-employee lawsuits and administrative proceedings involving sexual and racial harassment, discrimination, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, wrongful discharge and wage and hour disputes.

Shelton also provides union-awareness training and represents employers in election campaigns, arbitrations, collective bargaining and proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board.

“Brandon is a talented attorney who is a proven asset to his clients. His reputation for legal knowledge and focus on providing excellent client service precedes his entrance into the Charlotte market,” said Bernard Tisdale, managing shareholder of the Charlotte office.

Shelton earned his J.D. from the University of Illinois School of Law, and a B.S. from Southern Illinois University.

Smith Moore Leatherwood has awarded its 2010 scholarship to Jonathan Peterson, a rising second-year law student from Elizabethtown.

The scholarship is designed to promote law school opportunities for outstanding minority students and to encourage minority graduates to practice in North Carolina and surrounding states in the Southeast.

Peterson, a student at the College of William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Va., will be awarded $5,000 per year for his remaining two years of school. He has also been granted a paid summer associate position at Smith Moore Leatherwood’s Greensboro office. Peterson received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and plans to practice law in North Carolina.

The Commission on Indigent Defense Services recently honored attorney Michael G. Howell with the second annual training award named for School of Government Professor John Rubin. The Professor John Rubin Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Indigent Defense Training Programs honors individuals who volunteer their time and effort to serve as trainers and who have done outstanding work on training programs for attorneys representing indigent persons.

“Howell is an example of the best the public defender system can offer,” said IDS Executive Director Thomas Maher. “He is a skilled and effective advocate who chooses to devote his career to representing indigent citizens facing the most serious charges imaginable, and then makes the time to apply that skill and effectiveness to training other lawyers.”

Howell is an assistant capital defender in the Durham Office of the Capital Defender. He teaches at the School of Government’s annual trial school for defense attorneys, presenting a plenary on jury selection and serving as a workshop leader for an advanced group. He also teaches at the new misdemeanor defender and new felony defender programs each year, and at the spring and fall public defender conferences on request.

Howell received his law degree from UNC in 1987. He started his legal career as an assistant public defender in Cumberland County, followed by seven years as an assistant federal defender in the Eastern District of North Carolina. After a short period in private practice, where he represented criminal defendants in state and federal court, he assumed his current position as an assistant capital defender in 2000.

Steve Epstein, a partner with the Raleigh office of Poyner Spruill, was recently appointed chair of the Product Liability Practice Group for the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys.

Additionally, Epstein has been elected chairman of the board of directors for Community Partnerships, Inc., a nonprofit agency in Wake County that serves children and adults with cognitive disabilities. He has been active in the leadership of this organization for several years, and most recently served as its vice chair from 2009-2010. He will serve as chairman for two years.

Epstein’s litigation practice is concentrated on product liability, trucking and vehicular accident defense, mass-tort defense, plaintiff’s personal injury and wrongful death, complex business litigation, general civil litigation and appeals. He has defended clients in product liability cases in state and federal courts from New York to California and has obtained multiple multi-million-dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of injured plaintiffs.

Epstein received his B.A. and J.D. from UNC, both with highest honors.

Attorneys from Shanahan Law Group presented a breakout workshop at the N.C. Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ inaugural conference, which was held July 11-13 at the Sheraton Raleigh.

“Public charter schools are confronted by many of the same issues and challenges faced by businesses and other organizations,” said John Branch, an attorney with Shanahan Law Group and the lead presenter at the workshop. “During this session we sought to educate charter school operators on legal landmines that could trip them up and provided tips to help them prevent legal problems from occurring in the first place.”

The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District has reconstituted its Local Rules Committee, with Margaret Westbrook of K&L Gates serving as chair, and Algernon L. Butler III of Butler & Butler serving as vice chair. Other members are Paul Fanning, Allen Murphy, John Bircher, Pam McAfee, Richard Stearns, Bill Janvier, Pam Keenan, Lenita Webb, Marjorie Lynch, Stephanie Edmondson and Professor Susan Hauser.

Mental Health America has elected Pender McElroy as the new chair of its board of directors beginning this month. He will provide direction and leadership to the organization and its more than 300 affiliates nationwide.

“Mental Health America has been at the forefront of the mental health movement in our country for over 100 years,” McElroy said. “Mental Health America is uniquely poised to continue its leadership role in meeting the significant challenges which lie ahead for mental health services and funding and for consumers and their families.”

McElroy is a mental-health advocate and attorney practicing corporate and commercial law in Charlotte. He served as a member of the Mental Health America board and as secretary/treasurer from 1998-2004 and chaired its affiliate relations committee. He rejoined the board in 2006 and served first as secretary/treasurer and then as board chair-elect.

In 2004, he was the recipient of the Sandy Brandt Award from Mental Health America as Volunteer of the Year.

McElroy serves as a board member and past board chair of the Presbyterian Samaritan Counseling Center in Charlotte. He was a board member and board chair of the Mental Health Association in North Carolina and the Mental Health Association of Central Carolinas, both affiliates of Mental Health America. McElroy served for 13 years as a member, and seven years as chair, of the North Carolina Commission for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.

He has also served as president of the Mecklenburg County Bar, on the board and as board chair of Legal Aid of North Carolina and as a board member of Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, United Way of Central Carolinas and the Mecklenburg County Area Mental Health Authority.

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