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Ellis & Winters lawyers have handled well over one hundred appellate cases. These matters involve not only trial court cases litigated by the firm’s attorneys, but also cases in which the firm is retained specifically to serve as appellate counsel. Our appellate lawyers are also frequently retained to write amicus curiae briefs to aid the appellate courts in their decisions. In addition, several of the firm’s litigators have appellate clerkship experience at both the state and federal levels, providing insight into how appellate matters are approached within judges’ chambers.

Ellis & Winters’s appellate practice earned a Tier 1 ranking in Chambers USA, while Benchmark Litigation awarded the firm’s appellate practice a rating of “Highly Recommended.”


The firm takes pride in its leadership within the national and state appellate bar. Founding partner Paul Sun is the leader of the firm's appellate practice. He has served as the Rules Editor for the American Bar Association's Appellate Practice Journal. In 2013 and 2019, he was named Raleigh “Lawyer of the Year” for Appellate Practice by Best Lawyers in America.  Paul, along with partners Jon Sasser and Tom Segars, have all served as speakers at annual appellate practice CLE programs. Ellis & Winters attorneys have also served on the North Carolina Appellate Rules Committee, the committee that advises the North Carolina Supreme Court on rules of appellate procedure, and on the Section Council of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Section. Two attorneys serve on the Criminal Justice Act panel for the Fourth Circuit, regularly accepting appointments to brief and argue Fourth Circuit appeals.  Ellis & Winters attorneys have devoted hundreds of hours coaching appellate moot court teams and judging appellate moot court competitions.


Ellis & Winters has argued and won appeals of major significance. In these cases, and all cases, we take pride in preparing appellate courts with precise, persuasive briefs.

  • North Carolina Acupuncture Licensing Board v. North Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners (N.C. Supreme Court 2018). In this matter, the Supreme Court of North Carolina affirmed a decision by the firm’s client—the Physical Therapy Board—about the scope of physical therapy practice in North Carolina. A sister licensing board had attacked that decision.
  • Town of Littleton v. Layne Heavy Civil (N.C. Court of Appeals 2018). The firm obtained the affirmance of a trial court order that barred the plaintiff’s claim against our client, a general contractor, based on the expiration of statutes of limitation.
  • Cynthia Walker v. North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners (N.C. Supreme Court 2016). Representing the state dental board, the firm obtained a dismissal of a licensee’s appeal when the state supreme court concluded that it had improvidently allowed discretionary review.
  • Joseph Jemsek v. Janelle Rhyne, et al. (Fourth Circuit 2016). The firm successfully represented the North Carolina Medical Board in this appeal against allegations that the Board had violated a licensee’s due-process rights. The Fourth Circuit concluded that Eleventh-Amendment immunity barred those claims.
  • Bumpers v. Community Bank of North Carolina (N.C. Supreme Court 2013). In this putative class action, the firm overturned the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment in a significant decision concerning North Carolina’s unfair and deceptive trade practices statute.
  • McAdoo v. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (N.C. Court of Appeals 2013). The firm successfully represented the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) against claims asserted by a University of North Carolina football player after the NCAA declared the player ineligible. The Supreme Court denied discretionary review of the decision.
  • Willis v. Town of Marshall (Fourth Circuit 2005, 2008). In this case, concerning an individual’s constitutional right to attend a public gathering, the firm successfully argued for reversal of two summary judgment orders. 
  • Goldston v. State of North Carolina (N.C. Supreme Court 2006). The firm authored an amicus brief on behalf of the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law that helped clarify state standing doctrine derived under the North Carolina Constitution.
  • North Carolina Board of Pharmacy v. North Carolina Rules Review Commission (N.C. Supreme Court 2006). In this appeal, the North Carolina Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals that had invalidated a rule promulgated by the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy (our client) concerning pharmacists’ working hours.
  • State v. Philip Morris USA, Inc. (N.C. Supreme Court 2005). The firm successfully represented JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., the trustee of the National Tobacco Grower Settlement Trust, in a landmark decision concerning whether the Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004 relieved tobacco companies of their obligations to the Trust.