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Michelle Liguori is an appellate and business litigation attorney in the Raleigh office of Ellis & Winters.  Her practice focuses on appeals, class actions, and other complex business disputes.

Before joining Ellis & Winters, Michelle spent three years helping federal judges decide appeals as a staff attorney and law clerk at the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.  She later worked for the Solicitor General’s Office at the North Carolina Department of Justice, handling civil and criminal appeals in the state and federal appellate courts. 

In private practice, Michelle regularly handles appeals in the Fourth Circuit, North Carolina Court of Appeals, and North Carolina Supreme Court, and she has briefed several petitions before the United States Supreme Court.  Michelle’s appellate practice has spanned a broad array of subject matters, including arbitration disputes, medical malpractice, land use, consumer protection matters, estate litigation, and criminal law.  She is a member of the Fourth Circuit’s Criminal Justice Act panel, and on the appointments list for the North Carolina Office of the Appellate Defender. 

Michelle’s trial court practice focuses on class actions, other complex commercial disputes, and section 1983 litigation.  Michelle has significant experience litigating in the North Carolina Business Court, which includes briefing and arguing several issues of first impression and trying an LLC dispute to jury verdict.  She is a founding member of Best in Class, Ellis & Winters’s class action blog, and she regularly writes and edits articles for the blog. 

Michelle is actively involved in the legal community, both locally and nationally.  She is on the North Carolina Bar Association’s Appellate Section Council, serves as Appellate Subcommittee Chair for the American Bar Association’s Class Actions and Derivative Suits Committee, and is on the Bar Candidate Interview Committee for the Wake County Bar Association. 

In addition to her law practice, Michelle has been an adjunct professor at Duke Law School, where she has taught legal and scholarly writing, and she is a member of the Board of Directors of the Harvard Club of the Research Triangle.



  • J.D., Harvard Law School, 2012
    • Honors: cum laude
  • B.A., Amherst College, 2006

Court Admissions

  • North Carolina
  • New York
  • Eastern District of North Carolina
  • Middle District of North Carolina
  • Western District of North Carolina
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • United States Supreme Court

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • North Carolina Bar Association, Appellate Practice Section
  • Wake County Bar Association, Bar Candidate Interview Committee
  • American Bar Association, Litigation Section, Class Actions and Derivative Suits Committee
  • Defense Research Institute, Appellate Advocacy Committee



  • Briefed and argued criminal appeal in North Carolina Court of Appeals involving motion to suppress and petition for certiorari review of civil judgment; obtained vacatur of civil judgment.
  • Successfully briefed and argued criminal appeal in North Carolina Court of Appeals involving constitutional challenges to state stalking statute.
  • Briefed appeals before the North Carolina Court of Appeals and petitions before the North Carolina Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court on motion to compel arbitration in putative class action.
  • Briefed appeals before the North Carolina Court of Appeals and North Carolina Supreme Court involving issues of first impression in the application of statutes governing debt buyer collections activity.
  • Briefed appeals in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and North Carolina Supreme Court in appeals raising matters of first impression under the North Carolina Trust Code.
  • Briefed appeal and petition for discretionary review in North Carolina Supreme Court in appeal involving application of Rule 45(d1) of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure.
  • Wrote prevailing Fourth Circuit brief defending against section 1983 claims and constitutional challenges to a state occupational licensing statute.
  • Advised on appellate strategy in Fourth Circuit appeals involving North Carolina parole procedures for juvenile offenders and section 1983 action involving vacated convictions.

Class Actions

  • Represented landlord against putative class action involving recovery of litigation costs for eviction actions.
  • Represent debt buyer in putative class action involving statutory requirements for collections activity.
  • Represent assisted living facility in class action involving breach of contract claims.
  • Represent employer in putative class and California Private Attorney General Act action.
  • Advise universities on potential class-action ramifications of decision-making related to COVID-19.

Other Cases

  • Represent minority member of limited liability company in dispute with majority member. Obtained temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and defeated motion to dismiss.
  • Successfully briefed and argued issue of first impression in North Carolina Business Court related to enforcement of LLC member’s information rights.
  • Represented defendant against allegations of theft of trade secrets, fraud, and related claims. Successfully briefed and argued opposition to third-party defendants’ motions to dismiss and for judgment on the pleadings.
  • Successfully petitioned for release of third party’s property being held for criminal trial, under North Carolina General Statute section 15-11.1(a).



  • Best Lawyers in America, “Ones to Watch,” Appellate Practice 2021-2024, Commercial Litigation 2024
  • North Carolina Super Lawyers Magazine, Appellate, Rising Stars, (2022, 2023)
  • Business North Carolina, Legal Elite, Appellate, 2022