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Lawyers In The News: April 4, 2011

Lawyers In The News: April 4, 2011

Lauren S. Thurmond is now a shareholder of Rogers Townsend & Thomas. Thurmond works in the firm’s default services department, representing mortgage lenders, servicers and substitute trustees in foreclosure actions and related litigation. She is licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina and concentrates her practice on foreclosure, real property and creditors’ rights matters.

Thurmond holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a juris doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She is located in the firm’s Charlotte office.


The inaugural class of the Herb Falk Society, named for a Greensboro attorney who inspired others to take on pro bono work, was honored at a dinner last week at the Greensboro Country Club.

The honorees were all attorneys who had worked at least 75 hours pro bono in 2010 and included George W. Aycock III, Steven E. Black, William G. Burgin III, Barbara R. Christy, Locke T. Clifford, Robert C. Cone, Richard W. Gabriel, Garland G. Graham, Allen Holt Gwyn, Thomas P. Hockman, April E. Kight, Jennifer J.L. Koenig, Phyllis Lile-King, Phillip J. Long, James H. Slaughter, Melanie S. Tuttle, Amy J. Walker and Edward C. Winslow III.

N.C. State Bar President Anthony di Santi gave the keynote speech at the event, and those in attendance included Supreme Court Chief Justice Sarah Parker, Justice Bob Edmunds, and Court of Appeals Judges Robert N. Hunter Jr. and Rick Elmore.

Falk, who died in 2002, came up with a novel idea to promote volunteer work while he was president of the Greensboro Bar Association. He decided to call all seven Supreme Court justices to see if they would help build a home for a family in need. The justices agreed. Since then, lawyers in Greensboro continue to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity.


James L. Conner II has been made partner with Ragsdale Liggett. Conner leads the health-care litigation and the environmental law practice groups. He also focuses his practice in administrative law and commercial litigation, representing clients such as mental health providers, real estate developers, construction companies, professionals with licensing disputes and title insurance company.

Conner is a former administrative law judge and has been a certified mediator since 1994. He is also a certified arbitrator. He is a member of the North Carolina Academy of Superior Court Mediators and the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals.

Conner received his law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in botany from Duke University. He is serving his third term as a council member for the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Section of the N.C. Bar Association and is a frequent speaker at CLEs.

In other firm news, partner Melissa Dewey Brumback‘s “Construction Law in North Carolina” blog was recently named the top construction law blog in the country by Design and Construction Report, a division of Construction News and Report Group of Companies.

Brumback focuses her practice on construction law and civil litigation at Ragsdale Liggett. She received her juris doctor from the University of North Carolina School of Law and is a member of the Wake County Bar Association, N.C. Bar Association, N.C. Association of Women Attorneys and the Defense Research Institute. She also serves as vice chair of the 10th Judicial District Grievance Committee.


Poyner Spruill partner Frank Bryant was recently recognized as one of the 2011 Heroes for the Homeless at the third annual “Under Our Roof” Community Partnership Breakfast in Charlotte. He was honored for his volunteer work at the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, where he teaches several nights per week to help men work toward attaining their GEDs. 

Bryant focuses his practice on corporate law and has experience in advising and consulting closely held businesses on issues of formation, governance, operation, finance, growth, mergers and acquisitions and successions. He received both his bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Mark A. Jones has joined the law firm of Bell Davis & Pitt, where he will help establish a governmental investigations/white collar and general criminal defense practice. The new practice area will counsel and represent individuals and corporations regarding grand jury and government investigations and federal and state criminal proceedings.

Jones served as assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina from 2008-2011. He previously served as a law clerk for U.S. District Court Judges William L. Osteen Jr. and William L. Osteen Sr. and Virginia circuit judge Kathleen H. MacKay.

Jones is a 2006 graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, where he was assistant editor of the school’s law journal and senior primary editor of The 35th Annual Review of Criminal Procedure. Jones also covered the 2005 term of the U.S. Supreme Court as a research and press intern for Congressional Quarterly Press in Washington, D.C.


Melanie Black Dubis, a partner at Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein, has partnered with the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce to develop website terms of use and social media policy. The policy covers social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, as well as the chamber’s blog. It details the rules and restrictions for appropriate and prohibitive content and all responsibilities and liabilities for those using the website and contributing content.

Dubis serves the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s communication committee, which operates as an in-house, full-service agency handling a variety of communication activities.

Michael Shay has recently joined Mike Lewis Attorneys in Winston-Salem. Previously, he practiced Social Security Disability law with Legal Aid of North Carolina in Morganton.

Shay is a 2005 graduate of the N.C. Central University School of Law. He was co-chair of the statewide Public Benefits Task Force, a member of the Young Professional Exchange Program and a N.C. Crosby Scholar.


Womble Carlyle attorney Elizabeth Arias has been inducted as a fellow in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. ACTEC is a professional association consisting of approximately 2,700 lawyers from throughout the United States. Fellows of the college are nominated by other fellows in their geographic area and then are elected by the membership at large.

Arias provides estate planning and tax advice to clients across the state on a variety of issues, including creation and administration of irrevocable trusts, estate and gift tax issues, formation of limited liability companies or family limited partnerships, succession planning for family businesses and formation of charitable trusts and foundations. Arias also maintains an active fiduciary litigation practice. She practices in the firm’s Raleigh office.


Cristina Fernandez of Durham and E. Spencer Parris of Raleigh were elected to the board of directors of Legal Aid of North Carolina at its spring meeting. Fernandez will serve on the LANC Board as a representative from the N.C. Bar Association’s Latino Affairs Committee, and Parris will represent the N.C. Advocates for Justice.

Fernandez is vice president and associate general counsel with GlaxoSmithKline in Research Triangle Park, where she focuses on health-care law matters. She is a 1985 graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law.

Parris is a 1983 graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law. He is a past president of the N.C. Advocates for Justice and is also a member of the American Assoc-iation for Justice and the National Trial Lawyers.


Asheville attorney W. Louis Bissette Jr. has been selected to serve a four-year term on the UNC Board of Governors. The 32-member board handles all policymaking decisions for the 17 schools in the UNC system.

President of McGuire, Wood & Bissette since 1999, Bissette has practiced law with the firm since 1976. He received his undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University in 1965 and his J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1968. He also hold’s a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Virginia.

Bissette previously served two terms as Asheville’s mayor and as chairman of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, among other community and civic affiliations. He has received the Citizen Lawyer Award and the Centennial Award from the N.C. Bar Association, the J.D. Cooley Award from the Western North Carolina Community Development Association, the Citizenship Award from the Land of Sky Regional Council and the Big A and Chairman’s awards from the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce.


Former federal prosecutor Kieran Shanahan, principal of Shanahan Law Group, has been selected as a visiting professor for the Center for International Legal Studies and recently completed the Senior Lawyer Orientation Program in Salzburg, Austria, to prepare for his appointment.

The Center for International Legal Studies has operated for 32 years facilitating academic and exchange programs in eastern Europe. As a senior lawyer with the center, Shanahan will teach litigation and other topics at the University of Brest in Belarus this fall.

Shanahan was selected from more than 150 applicants and attended a weeklong training program in Austria to prepare for his visiting professorship appointment. The training included sessions on helping facilitate a productive learning experience such as teaching methods for a foreign audience and comparative systems of justice.


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