Chris is a dynamic appellate attorney and civil litigator whose multifaceted practice focuses on complex legal issues related to business, intellectual property, and appellate matters.
As a civil litigator, Chris has handled all aspects of commercial disputes involving contracts, non-compete clauses, trademarks, copyrights, and patents. His clients are as diverse as his practice, representing businesses, such as manufacturers, suppliers, and publications. Additionally, he has successfully defended individuals in disputes related to trusts and estates and unpaid commissions.
Chris devotes a substantial portion of his practice to critical motions and appeals. He has briefed and argued preliminary injunction, pre-trial, and post-judgment motions in state and federal courts. He has represented companies, individuals, and homeowners' associations before the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court of North Carolina, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Chris maintains an active pro bono practice, serving as appellate counsel for the North Carolina's Guardian ad Litem program. In 2020, Chris was appointed to the Fourth Circuit's Criminal Justice Act appellate panel. In that capacity, he serves as appointed counsel for indigent criminal defendants in federal appeals.
Before joining Ward and Smith, Chris was a law clerk to the Honorable Louise W. Flanagan, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, and the Honorable G. Steven Agee, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
- J.D., magna cum laude, Wake Forest University School of Law, 2014; Order of the Coif; Wake Forest Law Review
- B.A., magna cum laude, Wake Forest University, 2011
As a civil litigator, Chris has represented:
- a national publication company in non-compete dispute, obtaining a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that enforced client's non-compete against former franchisee.
- a fuel supplier against a multi-national corporation, obtaining a preliminary injunction against the multi-national corporation, which prohibited termination of client's contract.
- a cigarette manufacturer in a suit against a former buyer, successfully defending against the buyer's motion for summary judgment.
- a beneficiary of revocable trust in suit brought by the decedent's disinherited family members, obtaining a complete dismissal of all claims.
- a trustee of revocable trust in suit brought by the decedent's disinherited family members, successfully convincing the court to reconsider its prior order denying our motion to dismiss and thereby obtaining dismissal of all claims.
- a consultant in suit for unpaid commissions, defeating a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.
- a consultant in a suit for unpaid commissions, defeating a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim after successfully convincing the court to reconsider its order dismissing our client's claims.
In his appellate practice, Chris has represented:
- a North Carolina-based franchisor in an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, defending the dismissal of the plaintiff's breach of contract and unfair trade practices claims.
- an injured minor in an appeal to the North Carolina Court of Appeals, challenging the trial court's application of North Carolina's "Baseball Rule."
- a homeowners' association in an appeal to the North Carolina Court of Appeals, challenging the trial court's interpretation of the attorneys' fees provision of North Carolina's Planned Community Act.
- a national transportation-logistics company in an appeal to the Supreme Court of West Virginia, challenging an adverse jury verdict.
Currently, Chris is representing a large North Carolina municipality in an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, defending the dismissal of a Fair Labor Standards Act Claim. He is also representing a father in an appeal to the North Carolina Court of Appeals, defending a trial court's order awarding the father primary custody of his young daughter and allowing the father and daughter to relocate to California.
Honors and Distinctions*
- "Legal Elite," Young Guns, Business North Carolina, 2022
- "Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch," Best Lawyers®, 2020
- Leadership Wilmington, Class of 2020
- Boy Scouts of America, Eagle Scout
Professional and Community Affiliations
- Federal Bar Association
- Fourth Circuit's Criminal Justice Act Appellate Panel
- North Carolina Bar Association—Young Lawyers Division, Executive Council; Appellate Rules Committee; Antitrust and Complex Business Disputes, YLD Liaison
- North Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program
- Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, Ambassador
Admitted to Practice
- North Carolina, 2014
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern, Middle, and Western Districts of North Carolina, 2018
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 2017
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, 2021
* Please see the following websites for an explanation of the membership standards for the following recognitions: www.bestlawyers.com; businessnc.com/special-sections/legal-elite/; and www.superlawyers.com/north-carolina.
Highlights + Insights
Rapid Fire Legal Update on Tax Provisions, E-Discovery, Lobbying Issues, and ADA Compliance
Déjà Vu: Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Dissolves Stay of OSHA COVID-19 "Emergency Temporary Standard" for Large Employers
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