Curtis Shipley is the firm’s chief operating officer and serves on its management committee. He previously served as the general counsel to the firm, handling issues of ethics and professional responsibility. Curtis’s practice includes representation of clients in complex commercial disputes, construction defect and product liability matters, and environmental litigation. Though his environmental work frequently involves litigation, such as toxic tort actions and contribution and cost recovery actions under the federal Superfund statute, his work is sometimes regulatory in nature. Curtis routinely advises clients who are investigating, remediating, and monitoring contamination at closed landfills and other environmental sites. Most recently, his environmental work has focused on the legal challenges posed by emerging contaminants.
Curtis considers himself a generalist because his practice is broad-based and dynamic. He represents clients in complex commercial litigation and other civil disputes and also provides advisory services to commercial entities. He regularly advises clients on manufacturing, distribution, land use, and confidentiality agreements, as well as the management of risks associated with product lines and business operations.
Curtis prides himself on his ability to remain calm under fire. He strives to remain cordial and maintain personal integrity at every stage of the litigation process. Curtis believes it is better for both sides if attorneys act as zealous advocates within a basic framework of personal decorum and mutual respect. This ensures that the matter will be resolved as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Curtis’ path to the law was nontraditional. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 1985. While a student at Northwestern, he completed internships as a reporter at daily and weekly newspapers, and served as the publisher of Byline, Northwestern’s Journalism Review.
Through his work in journalism, Curtis realized that the skills he obtained in that field would translate well to law. Both industries require a high degree of curiosity and investigatory skills such as knowing the right questions to ask, discerning where to seek information, and adopting a dogged mindset in the pursuit of truth. Both fields also require excellent writing skills and the ability to take complex information, distill it into its relevant parts, and present it in a succinct and cogent manner.
Curtis graduated with high distinction from the University of Iowa College of Law, where he served as Articles Editor of the Iowa Law Review and was a semi-finalist in the Van Oosterhout Moot Court Competition. After law school, Curtis served as a law clerk for the Honorable Myron H. Bright of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He then practiced for three years with Sidley & Austin in Washington, D.C. and twelve years with Moore & Van Allen PLLC in Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina. Curtis joined Ellis & Winters LLP as a partner in June 2004 and practices in the firm’s Greensboro office.
In his free time, Curtis is an avid music fan and collector. He takes full advantage of North Carolina’s robust live music scene and enjoys attending shows by independent and obscure bands with his wife and friends. Curtis and his wife have four college-aged children, including triplets, which has made for a truly interesting adventure.
- J.D., University of Iowa College of Law, 1988
- Honors: High Distinction
- Law Review: Articles Editor, Iowa Law Review, 1987-1988
- Van Oosterhout Moot Court Competition, Semi-Finalist, 1987
- B.S., Northwestern University, 1985
- State Bar
- North Carolina
- U.S. District Courts
- Eastern District of North Carolina
- Middle District of North Carolina
- Western District of North Carolina
- District of District of Columbia
- U.S. Court of Appeals
- Fourth Circuit
- Ninth Circuit
- District of Columbia Circuit
Professional Associations and Memberships
- American Bar Association
- Section of Litigation
- Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources
- Forum on Construction Law
- North Carolina Bar Association
- Litigation Section
- Environmental, Energy & Natural Resources Law Section
- Construction Law Section
- Defense Research Institute (DRI)
- Commercial Litigation Section
- Construction Law Section
- Construction Insurance Coverage Section
- Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Committee
- Product Liability Committee
- Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee
- National MS Society (Greater Carolinas Chapter)
- Member, Government Relations Advisory Committee (2019-present)
- Member, Board of Trustees (2019-2023)
- City of Asheboro ABC Board (2022-present)
- Represented a national waste transporter at multi-party landfill sites, including the negotiation of cleanup requirements with federal and state regulators, the allocation of liability for cleanup costs, and the performance of environmental remediation and monitoring.
- Pursued cost recovery litigation under CERCLA for the costs of removing PCB-contaminated soil at a facility that repaired and sold electrical transformers.
- Defended toxic tort claims arising from alleged contamination of air and groundwater near industrial facilities.
- Defended product manufacturers, distributors, and contractors against claims arising from alleged asbestos exposure.
- Advised clients regarding land-use decisions for contaminated properties and the contractual allocation of environmental liabilities.
- Defended a manufacturer of cement-based building materials in claims related to the use of its products at construction projects nationwide.
- Defended a manufacturer of Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (“EIFS”) against product liability claims asserted in class actions and individual lawsuits.
- Defended a window manufacturer against class action claims of alleged product defects.
- Defended executive compensation disputes arising from bank mergers.
- Defended claims related to alleged fraudulent inducement of jet aircraft leases.
- Represented clients in commercial lease disputes.
- Represented clients in disputes under confidentiality and non-competition agreements.
- Drafted and negotiated manufacturing, distribution, confidentiality, and other commercial agreements.
Prior Legal Experience
- Partner, Moore & Van Allen PLLC, 1998-2004
- Associate, Moore & Van Allen PLLC, 1992-1997
- Associate, Sidley & Austin, 1989-1992
- Clerkship, United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, Hon. Myron H. Bright, 1988-1989
- Effective Writing and Editing in the In-House Legal Environment; Research Triangle Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel, September 21, 2016
- Overview of Past, Pending, and Denied Construction-Related MDLs; Harris Martin Construction Product Liability Conference, October 25, 2013
- The Best Lawyers in America®, Construction Law, Environmental Law, Environmental Litigation (2018-2024)
- Triad Lawyer of the Year (2024)
- North Carolina Super Lawyers Magazine, Business Litigation, Construction Litigation, and/or Environmental Litigation (2012-2023)
- Business North Carolina, Legal Elite, Litigation (2011, 2012, 2014, 2022)
- 2024 Best Lawyers Recognition Announced
- Ellis & Winters Sponsors “2023 Walk MS,” Triad Event
- Ellis & Winters Attorneys Recognized as 2023 Super Lawyers®
- Ellis & Winters Named to 2023 “Best Lawyers in America” List
- Ellis & Winters Attorneys Recognized as 2022 Super Lawyers®