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Ellis Payne is a member of the firm’s real estate group. He concentrates his practice primarily on commercial leasing for both landlords and tenants, and real estate development and financing. 

Prior to joining Ellis & Winters, Ellis served as senior vice president and general counsel for a commercial real estate development and management company with clients locally, nationally, and globally. He handled the direct management of the firm’s commercial real estate portfolio as well as the oversight of company operations from both a business and legal perspective. His work for clients has included a broad spectrum from small independent shops to Fortune 500 companies. He also has experience in land use and zoning issues including matters involving historical preservation.

Ellis has an analytical mind and considers himself a “number’s person.” He is a problem solver who works his way methodically through real estate matters as he would a math problem. He most enjoys the collaborative nature of practicing law in the real estate area and the tangible results as a deal develops and comes to fruition. He often will visit a location to see the property in-person during various phases of development.

Active in local real estate and legal organizations as well as his community and surrounding areas, Ellis enjoys staying apprised of local, state, and national real estate trends and activities and keeping his clients informed of issues and opportunities as they arise. Ellis earned the rank of Eagle Scout in the Scouts BSA program and was elected to the Order of the Arrow, scouting’s National Honor Society. The Eagle Scout’s code includes a pledge to “help other people at all times,” something Ellis continues to do.

When not busy with his legal practice, Ellis enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children and tries to get in a round of golf occasionally. He is an avid reader and has recently taken up fly fishing. He hopes to improve his casting technique as he spends more time practicing during beach and mountain visits with his family.



  • J.D., Campbell University, Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law
    • Cum Laude 
    • Phi Alpha Delta
  • B.S., North Carolina State University
    • Magna Cum Laude


  • North Carolina


  • Association of Corporate Counsel 
  • International Council of Shopping Centers
  • NAIOP Raleigh Durham 
  • North Carolina Bar Association, Real Property and In-House Counsel Sections
  • Wake County Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division