William R. Lathan, Jr.

Financial Institutions Attorney
Ward and Smith, P.A.
Email wrl@wardandsmith.com
252.672.5458 Fax 252.672.5477
Post Office Box 867, New Bern, NC 28563-0867

Bill's practice experience encompasses the formation, regulation, and operation of banks and bank holding companies; securities offerings and reporting; mergers and acquisitions; and corporate governance matters pertaining to publicly-held companies.

Prior to joining the firm, Bill served as vice president and general counsel/corporate secretary for one of North Carolina's multi-bank holding companies.


  • J.D., The University of North Carolina School of Law, 1975
  • A.B., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1972

Representative Experience

  • Representation of two bank holding companies in the course of their separate acquisitions of bank holding companies and their subsidiary banks located in other states
  • Representation of two banks in the course of their being acquired by other banks
  • Representation of a bank holding company in raising capital through its private sale of preferred stock
  • Counseled bank holding companies and banks in their compliance with reporting obligations under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
  • Counseled bank holding companies and banks in their annual shareholder meeting process, including their compliance with proxy solicitation disclosure rules and preparation of disclosures regarding various non-routine voting proposals, including various charter amendments and compensation plans

Honors and Distinctions*

  • The Best Lawyers in America, Best Lawyers®, 2005-2024
  • "Super Lawyer," Banking, North Carolina Super Lawyers, 2020-2024
  • "Legal Elite," Business North Carolina, 2014

Peer rated   Best Lawyers Logo     

Professional and Community Affiliations

  • American Bar Association — Section: Business Law
  • North Carolina Bankers Association
  • North Carolina Bar Association — Section: Business Law

Admitted to Practice

  • North Carolina, 1975
  • All state courts in North Carolina

About Me

Much that I learned in Boy Scouts has served me well as an attorney, particularly the motto…"Be Prepared."  The best thing about Ward and Smith is the team approach to client services, and the emphasis on teamwork rather than individual accomplishments.

One surprising thing people don't know about me is that I play keyboards in a classic rock band.  

* 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.

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  • American Board of Trial Advocates
  • Legal Elite Business North Carolina 2024
  • Super Lawyers 2021
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers 2023
  • U.S. News Best Lawyers 20234

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