In Features

Photos By John Gessner  |  Photo illustrations by Kathryn Galloway


Movies can make us laugh, offer an escape or provide a vicarious outlet for passions and dreams. When Business North Carolina asked this year’s class of Legal Elite winners about their favorite movies, we half-expected a smattering of courtroom dramas such as A Few Good Men or Presumed Innocent. Instead, responses from this year’s star attorneys were wide-ranging, from mysteries to Cohen brothers comedies to classic James Bond films.

And there were heroes — lots of heroes — from the everyday to the “super” variety. Rooting for heroes (and heroines), especially those who defend the weak and powerless, is a natural instinct for legal professionals, according to Nan Hannah, a Raleigh attorney who is this year’s winner in the construction law category. The young wizard Harry Potter “is a pretty good role model for a lawyer,” Hannah says. “We will on occasion demonstrate that we are fallible but, hopefully, continuously strive to protect our clients and the public — always seeking justice.”

Since 2002, Business North Carolina has reached out to members of the N.C. State Bar (numbering more than 23,000), asking them to select colleagues who are distinguished in their fields. Lawyers could not vote for themselves and could vote for a member of their own firm only if they also picked an attorney from an outside firm in the same category. Through an online balloting system, 669 attorneys were selected to this year’s list, representing less than 3% of the state’s lawyers. Also this year, a record seven of the top vote-getters are women — half of all winners. Overall winners will be elevated to the Legal Elite Hall of Fame and can’t win again in the same category.

Lights, camera …

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