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Kelly Margolis Dagger is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on business litigation, employment litigation, higher education, and criminal defense.  She has tried cases in North Carolina state and federal courts, including civil and criminal matters.  Ms. Dagger regularly appears in federal district court, the North Carolina Business Court, and other North Carolina state trial courts, where she represents clients in a wide range of pre- and post-trial matters.  She also represents clients on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and the North Carolina Supreme Court.  Her civil practice includes higher education litigation, contract disputes, antitrust and unfair competition claims, trade secrets, restrictive covenants, and other departing employee litigation, as well as wrongful termination and related employment law claims.  Ms. Dagger also defends clients in federal criminal cases and serves on the Criminal Justice Act panels for the Eastern District of North Carolina and the Fourth Circuit.

Ms. Dagger joined Ellis & Winters after receiving her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, where she was elected to the Order of the Coif and served as an editor of California Law Review. While in law school, she also served as the president of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund and continues to take an active interest in animal welfare issues. Ms. Dagger earned her undergraduate degree in religious studies, with highest distinction, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Prior to attending law school, Ms. Dagger worked as a research analyst for a pharmaceutical business intelligence firm in Research Triangle Park and as an intern at Equality North Carolina in Raleigh.

Ms. Dagger is a competitive runner at the marathon and half-marathon distances.  She is a native of Charleston, West Virginia, and lives in Raleigh with her husband and their dog.

Awards and Honors

  • North Carolina Super Lawyers Magazine, "Rising Star", Business Litigation, Appellate, Criminal Defense (2016-2020)
  • Business North Carolina, Legal Elite, Young Guns (2018-2019)

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Federal Bar Association, EDNC Chapter, Immediate Past President
  • Criminal Justice Act Panel, Eastern District of North Carolina
  • Criminal Justice Act Panel, Fourth Circuit
  • North Carolina Bar Association
  • Wake County Bar Association
  • DRI
  • North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys
  • Lung Transplant Foundation, Board of Directors (2018-Present)
  • SPCA of Wake County, Board of Directors, Former Member (2014-2017)