Tony Copeland became North Carolina’s Secretary of Commerce in January 2017, named to the post by Governor Roy Cooper and marking a return to the agency for the experienced business executive.
Earlier in his career, Copeland served as an Assistant Commerce Secretary, leading the recruitment of nearly $12 billion in investment and the creation of nearly 100,000 jobs. In this capacity, he worked with numerous international companies in China, Japan, Europe, South Korea and Israel, as well as a variety of domestic companies.
Copeland’s experience spans a wide range of economic development and business leadership roles. During the past decade, as part of a major law firm, Copeland has brought significant new corporate investment into North Carolina from both domestic and international sources. He brings an insider’s knowledge of the ways corporate investment and site decisions are made.
From 1992 to 2003, Copeland served as executive vice president, secretary and general counsel of BTI, a competitive telecommunications company, where he led the company’s growth from $38 million in revenues to more than $250 million. He led the senior executive team that secured $500 million in equity financing and planned, financed and installed more than 5,000 miles of fiber optic cable in the Carolinas and along the eastern seaboard.
As the president and chief executive officer of FMI Corporation, Chris oversees the management of all FMI businesses and services and leads the firm’s strategic growth efforts. Previously, Chris served as president and senior managing director of FMI Capital Advisors, the firm’s investment banking subsidiary, where he also led the firm’s utility infrastructure practice. He works with owners, boards and management teams on strategic issues involving industry trends, management, ownership transfer, and mergers and acquisitions. He is a contributing author to numerous industry publications and media outlets and is an energetic and entertaining speaker on the current and future impact of economic, technology and competitive trends on the industry. Prior to joining FMI, Chris served as global financial services leader for an industrial company with operations throughout North and South America and Europe, and he began his career in public accounting with KPMG.
Tom's practice experience encompasses various areas of litigation. He has pretrial, trial, and appellate experience in trademark, trade secret, patent, real estate, products liability, construction, business torts, and contract matters. He also counsels clients on drafting and negotiating commercial transactions, including license, supplier, and vendor agreements; purchase order terms; divestiture of business segment agreements; and international vendor and supplier agreements.
Wes helps businesses and professionals respond to government investigations or criminal prosecutions. A former federal prosecutor, Wes uses his insight to frame his client’s situation, while attempting to mitigate the damage these investigations frequently bring. The earlier he is involved, the more likely he can alter the direction of the case. Wes also draws on his experience when conducting internal investigations of potential wrongdoing and advising private clients on appropriate responsive actions.
John counsels clients in estate and business planning matters. He prepares estate planning documents, including wills, revocable trusts, minors trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, and charitable trusts, and advises clients on the income, estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax consequences of wealth transfers to individuals, trusts, and charitable organizations. John also works with executors and trustees in estate and trust administration matters. With respect to business planning, he assists clients in entity selection, limited liability company formation and maintenance, closely-held business succession matters (including the creation and maintenance of ESOPs), and deferred compensation for employers, owners, and key employees in employment and severance agreements. John's practice includes counseling employers on their tax-qualified retirement plans, health and welfare benefit plans, nonqualified deferred compensation plans, and equity compensation arrangements. His background in employee benefits and compensation is beneficial to clients considering income and estate tax aspects of distributions, rollovers, and trustee-to-trustee transfers from qualified retirement plans and/or IRAs.
Whitney is a government relations attorney who represents clients before the North Carolina General Assembly, where for seven legislative sessions she has monitored, evaluated, drafted, supported, amended and opposed legislation in accordance with client needs. She has experience advocating on behalf of large technology companies, professional associations, manufacturers, restaurants and lodging properties, environmental mitigation providers, military and education nonprofits, and local governments. Whitney has successfully secured state budget provisions and has had legislation introduced and enacted pertaining to business liability, internet privacy and security laws, state and local pension system reforms, vehicle registration, special elections, alcoholic beverage laws, state procurement of information technology, local government purchasing requirements, and 911 dispatch center redundancy. She also counsels and represents clients before government bodies in economic development matters.
Merrill's practice experience encompasses a broad range of business law matters, including start-up businesses, business transfers and acquisitions, transactional matters, and tax matters. He has extensive experience representing contractors, design professionals, and project owners in drafting and negotiating construction, design, and design/build contracts. His practice also includes the representation of health care organizations and their owners in corporate, transactional, and merger and acquisition matters. Merrill has been a Certified Public Accountant since 1994.
Jamie works regularly with individuals, corporations, and governmental entities on a variety of complex legal matters. His experience in substantive areas of the law includes government contracts (with an emphasis on local, state, and federal construction contracts and the procurement of goods and services), government relations and lobbying (including campaign finance and ethics issues), and economic development law (especially public-private partnerships and incentives). Jamie has extensive experience with board governance issues, open meeting and public records laws, and military economic development initiatives. He provides legal services to corporations, individuals, cities, counties, public housing authorities, community colleges, and other independent subdivisions of the State.
Caitlin Poe is a litigation and regulatory compliance attorney who represents criminal and civil clients, with a particular focus on representing professional clients adverse to the federal government. Her substantive areas of experience include criminal and civil cases involving securities regulation, intellectual property, environmental compliance, health care fraud, and financial fraud. Caitlin also represents business entities and individuals in connection with government and internal investigations. Caitlin is also skilled in managing complex civil litigation matters in federal court.
John leads Ward and Smith's Trusts and Estates practice. He is certified by the North Carolina State Bar as a Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law. John's practice experience encompasses estate planning, estate administration, estate and gift tax planning, and related services primarily, though not exclusively, to high net worth individuals and families. His practice also involves business succession planning for closely-held business owners, asset protection, and estate planning with IRAs and retirement accounts.
Jason represents and assists contractors, subcontractors, owners, lenders, and design professionals in all areas of the construction and development process. His goal is to help clients through the building process in the most efficient and cost effective manner. His practice experience includes civil litigation, preparation and negotiation of construction contracts, and development of best practices for construction companies.
Ryal is an experienced litigator. He has handled a wide range of litigation cases in state and federal courts, many of them jury trials. Ryal has extensive construction law experience, including lien law, federal and state bond claims, and defective workmanship cases. He also has significant experience with agribusiness litigation, property owner association disputes, personal injury, and all types of real estate disputes, including title insurance claims, trespass, adverse possession, condemnation, easement rights, and wrongful timber cutting.
Amy leads the Ward and Smith's Environmental practice with a focus on the environmental aspects of real estate and business transactions, including coastal development. She has built trust with her clients by providing practical business advice regarding regulatory compliance; conducting due diligence; remediating contaminated properties; meeting the requirements of water, wetland, and stormwater permitting standards; and, devising strategies for sensitive and contaminated properties through Brownfields redevelopment and green building practices. Amy's philosophy of communication and teamwork allows her to establish, maintain, and leverage positive relationships with environmental technical experts and government regulators. Her representative experience includes defending stormwater and CAMA permits against administrative and judicial challenges; assisting corporate and banking clients with projects facing environmental assessment, permitting, and enforcement issues; advising industrial and municipal clients on compliance with NPDES wastewater and stormwater requirements; and, assisting developers and community associations with stormwater permits. Amy is an accredited Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ("LEED") Green Associate. She also chairs Ward and Smith's Green Initiative to build and promote environmentally sustainable professional practices within the firm.