Rising Stars: 6 Ward and Smith Attorneys Shine in 2023 Benchmark Litigation '40 & Under List'

6 Trophies on gray background

Benchmark Litigation, the definitive guide to the world’s leading litigation firms and lawyers, is honoring six Ward and Smith attorneys on its "2023 40 & Under List."

This prestigious distinction acknowledges some of the most noteworthy up-and-coming litigation attorneys in the country who handle significant cases, including those with high stakes or that set precedents. The guide results from a meticulous process involving peer review and case evaluation.

Ward and Smith's attorneys recognized on the 2023 "40 & Under Hot List" are:

Chris EdwardsChris Edwards 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 civil and criminal appeals raising various 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.

Evan MusselwhiteEvan Musselwhite is a construction litigator who serves as the co-Chair of the firm's construction law practice. He represents and advises contractors, subcontractors, owners, and design professionals in all stages of the construction and development process. His experience includes drafting and negotiating construction, design, and design/build contracts. Additionally, he represents owners, contractors, and subcontractors in various civil litigation matters.

Jordan SpannerJordan Spanner helps clients navigate complex disputes related to business, intellectual property, and trusts and estates matters.  She is skilled at interpreting statutory and regulatory schemes, contracts, and other legal documents.  She is also experienced in evaluating pleadings, motions, and briefs, which allows her to work with individuals and businesses in all phases of the litigation process, including pre-trial investigations, preparation of pleadings, discovery, and trial.

Hayley WellsHayley Wells' practice primarily focuses on alcoholic beverage law, labor and employment law, and civil litigation.  As head of the firm's Alcoholic Beverage Law Practice Group, she regularly advises brewery and other craft alcoholic beverage clients on various aspects of the law.  She also regularly advises individual and corporate clients in matters of covenants not to compete, employment discrimination, discipline and termination, harassment, wrongful discharge, and wage and hour matters. Additionally, Hayley represents both corporate and individual clients in all aspects related to litigation. 

Devon Williams is one of the firm's Managing Directors. Her practice encompasses a wide range of labor and employment issues, including wage and hour matters, federal contractor compliance, employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims, employee discipline and termination decisions, personnel policies and practices, restrictive covenants, and background checks. As a member of the firm's Hemp Law practice group, Devon regularly assists clients in the agribusiness, hemp, and CBD industries in navigating the complexities of ever-changing labor and employment laws.


Amy WootenAmy Wooten's litigation practice focuses on complex commercial disputes, fiduciary duty claims, unfair and deceptive trade practices claims, and community association matters.  Amy also has significant experience representing policyholders in a broad range of first- and third-party coverage litigation with their insurance carriers and co-chairs the firm's Insurance Counseling and Recovery Practice Group. That experience includes litigating coverage disputes pertaining to commercial property insurance, directors and officers ("D&O") insurance, errors and omissions ("E&O") insurance, disability insurance, and commercial general liability ("CGL") insurance.  In addition, Amy litigates disputes of all flavors that arise in the agribusiness and hemp industries. 

You can view the 2023 edition of the "40 & Under Hot List" here.

Benchmark exclusively covers the litigation and disputes market in North America, covering the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The publication focuses exclusively on litigation and disputes in North America, differentiating them from other legal directories covering a broader spectrum of legal services and geography. This allows them to provide a much more in-depth analysis of the litigation and disputes market. Benchmark is also editorially driven, rather than statistically driven, and strives to avoid being over-inclusive.

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