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Mary Dillon serves in a unique role at the firm, serving as outside general counsel for clients and practicing civil litigation and corporate law. One of the founders of Ellis & Winters, she is spirited, humorous, and conversationally engaging. She strives to form close, transparent, and highly interactive relationships with clients in order to deliver effective legal representation in litigation and transactional matters. Mary likes to find the humor in every situation and her relaxed, friendly demeanor often works well in representing her clients and negotiating with others.

Mary currently serves as outside general counsel for commercial entities, providing advisory services and representation related to corporate law issues and transactional matters. Her experience includes advising and counseling clients on corporate governance issues, contract drafting and negotiation, employee/personnel matters, legislation, regulatory matters, conflicts of interest, corporate policies, shareholder issues, and Chapter 55 matters. When necessary, she has taken center stage before local, state, and federal governmental entities and prominent regulatory bodies, advocating on behalf of clients in disputes based on complex underlying regulatory concerns.

Mary has served as outside counsel for the North Carolina Railroad Company. In this role, she has garnered extensive experience working with the company and its stakeholders, railroad operators, vendors, project partners, state and local entities and members of the community. 

Additionally, she has over twenty-five years of experience as a litigator, which has shaped every aspect of her legal practice. Mary has represented clients in state and federal court and argued appeals in service of her clients’ interests. She boasts a wide range of litigation experience, with a focus on product defect cases, commercial litigation, and professional liability. In her litigation practice, she has represented a variety of clients, including lawyers in professional negligence actions, medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers and distributors of construction and safety equipment, food and beverage manufacturers, airlines, boats, automobiles, railroads, and health care practitioners and institutions.

Mary’s deep experience in both the litigation and corporate counsel contexts affords her a competitive advantage in law practice. Litigation and corporate matters intersect in many ways and the ability to handle both aspects of law practice grants her unique insight into what drives a client and how to advance their objectives.

Although every client and case is different, Mary strives to anticipate clients’ goals, needs, and limitations and exceed their expectations. Whether in litigation or as corporate counsel, Mary understands the value of resolving matters creatively and efficiently while balancing the needs and goals of internal and external stakeholders. While some attorneys “put blinders on” and take the longest path to a resolution simply because they are most familiar with it, Mary focuses on the client’s business goal, which may require a different legal strategy than originally planned.

Mary obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina (B.A., 1989), where she was a Morehead Scholar, and received her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law (1993) where she was Executive Editor of the Virginia Environmental Law Journal. Mary also has a Masters in Education from the University of North Carolina.

In her free time, Mary enjoys chasing her twins, reading a book, unwinding in a yoga class, and walking her dog. She is also a long-time kayaker.



  • J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 1993
    • Virginia Environmental Law Journal, Executive Editor, 1992-1993
  • M.ED., University of North Carolina, 2004
  • B.A., University of North Carolina, 1989
    • Honors: Morehead Scholar

Bar Admissions

  • North Carolina

Court Admissions

  • Eastern District of North Carolina
  • Middle District of North Carolina
  • Western District of North Carolina
  • Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • North Carolina Pattern Jury Instructions,
    • Reporter for Civil Committee (2011-2014)
  • North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys
    • Membership Committee, Co-Chair (2013-2015)
    • Board of Directors (2008-2011)
    • Amicus Committee, Chair (2011-2013)
    • Product Liability Committee, Chair (2007)
    • Diversity Committee, Co-Chair (2016)
  • North Carolina Bar Association
    • Citizen Lawyer Task Force, Member (2009-2014); Chair (2015-2016)
    • Member (1993-2016)
  • Tenth Judicial District Bar
    • Grievance Committee (2011-2013)
  • Wake County Bar Association
  • DRI
  • International Association of Defense Counsel
  • Triangle ArtWorks
    • Chair, Board of Directors (2010-2015)
  • Beginnings
    • Chair, Board of Directors (2015-2016)
    • Board of Directors (2013-2015)


  • The Accidental Lawyer – Terms Engagement, Lawyers Mutual Liability Insurance Company of North Carolina CLE, Raleigh, North Carolina, January 11, 2019
  • Communicating with Difficult Attorneys, Clients and Judges, North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys Annual Meeting, Asheville, North Carolina, June 17, 2016


  • Business North Carolina, Legal Elite, Litigation & Corporate (2016-present)
  • The Best Lawyers in America®, Commercial Litigation (2018-2024)
  • Peer Review Rating of AV® in Martindale-Hubbell