Chris is an appellate attorney who focuses his practice on complex legal issues in both federal and state courts of appeals. A North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Appellate Practice, Chris has handled both civil and criminal appeals raising a wide variety of legal issues. To take a few examples, he has handled appeals in constitutional litigation, child custody litigation, employment litigation, equitable distribution litigation, estate litigation, municipal litigation, patent litigation, personal injury litigation, tax litigation, trade secrets litigation, and unfair competition litigation. All told, since joining the firm in 2018, Chris has presented more than a dozen oral arguments in state and federal courts, and he has been the primary author of more than 30 appellate briefs.
As an appellate attorney, Chris also works with trial counsel before a final judgment has been entered. In this capacity, he drafts and argues significant motions, consults on legal strategy, and works to set the case up for a successful appeal.
Before joining Ward and Smith, Chris was a law clerk to U.S. Circuit Judge G. Steven Agee of the Fourth Circuit and U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan of the Eastern District of North Carolina. Outside of the firm, Chris is an active member of the appellate bar, administering the N.C. Bar Association’s Appellate Pro Bono Program and serving on its Appellate Rules Committee.
- 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
- Briefed and argued Warfield v. ICON Advisers, Inc., 26 F.4th 666 (4th Cir. 2022), a case reversing the district court’s judgment and reinstating an arbitration award finding liability and awarding damages under a “wrongful termination without just cause” theory.
- Briefed and argued Keith v. Health-Pro Home Care Services, 381 N.C. 442, 873 S.E.2d 567 (2022), a case reversing the Court of Appeals and reinstating a jury verdict, which clarified the scope of the negligent hiring tort in North Carolina.
- Briefed Southern Power Co. v. Cleveland County, 24 F.th 258 (4th Cir. 2022), a case affirming the district court’s judgment and interpreting a novel provision of North Carolina’s Economic Development Act.
- Briefed and argued Bill Clark Homes of Raleigh, LLC v. Town of Fuquay-Varina, 281 N.C. App. 1, 869 S.E.2d 1 (2021), a case reversing the trial court’s order dismissing a complaint seeking a refund of unlawful fees.
- Briefed and argued Munoz v. Munoz, 278 N.C. App. 647, 864 S.E.2d 364 (2021), a case interpreting a novel provision of North Carolina child custody law.
Honors and Distinctions*
- The Best Lawyers in America: Ones to Watch, Best Lawyers®, 2020-2024
- "Legal Elite," Business North Carolina, Appellate, 2023
- "40 & Under List," Benchmark Litigation, 2022, 2023
- "Legal Elite," Young Guns, Business North Carolina, 2022
- Leadership Wilmington, Class of 2020
- Boy Scouts of America, Eagle Scout
- NC Attorney Pro Bono Honor Society Inductee, NC Pro Bono Resource Center, 2021, 2020
- North Carolina State Bar Board Certified Specialist in Appellate Practice
Professional and Community Affiliations
- Federal Bar Association
- Fourth Circuit's Criminal Justice Act Appellate Panel
- North Carolina Bar Association—Appellate Section, Pro Bono Committee Chair; 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
Playing the Long Game: Preserving Issues for Appeal
The Third Chair: Engaging Appellate Counsel Early To Improve Outcomes at Trial
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