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2009 Legal Elite

For the eighth year, North Carolina lawyers judge their peers to decide who presides as best of the bar.

To call it Business North Carolina’s Legal Elite is a bit misleading. The magazine compiles and publishes the list, as it has since 2002, but its staff doesn’t pick the lawyers who appear on it. Their peers do. Ballots were mailed last summer to every active member of the State Bar — 19,160 of them — living in North Carolina. The ballots bore the same question as always: Of the Tar Heel lawyers whose work you have observed, whom would you rate the best in their fields? They were not allowed to vote for themselves and could select their partners and associates only if they also picked people outside the firm in the same categories — and those votes were given more weight. About 4% more ballots were returned than in the previous year, and lawyers who received the most votes constitute the 2009 Legal Elite, 621 strong — a little more than 3% of the state’s lawyers. Two firms — Charlotte-based Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson PA and Greensboro-based Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP — tied for the most lawyers on the list with 22 each. Charlotte-based Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP had 21. The magazine asked the top vote-getters in each category to reveal their favorite possession. Some are big — a car, two boats — while others are more personal — photographs or a letter — but all give insight into their owners. Contributing Photographer Steve Exum’s photos of the winners with their favorite things appear on the following pages, as does the complete roster of this year’s Legal Elite.

Photography by Steve Exum