Wilson & Helms partners G. Gray Wilson, Linda Helms, Stuart Russell and Lorin Lapidus have all joined Nelson Mullins’ current office in Winston-Salem, with Wilson and Russell joining as partners and Helms and Lapidus as of counsel.
Established in 1992, Wilson & Helms focuses its practice on professional liability defense, business litigation and appeals. It was the compatibility between Wilson & Helms and Nelson Mullins in those practice areas that made the tie-up appealing, said Wilson, who also serves as chairman of the Board of Lawyers Mutual Liability Insurance Co.—the largest professional liability carrier for lawyers in North Carolina with over 8,000 enrolled.
“I made the approach to this office several months ago because I thought the synergy between the two [firms] might be good and that our respective practices would be a good fit with each other,” said Wilson, a well-known Tobacco Road litigator who serves as author of the North Carolina Civil Procedure treatise, now in its third edition.
Nelson Mullins, which earlier this month snagged Squire Patton Boggs partner Samuel Rosenthal in Washington, D.C., was excited about the opportunity to add on a Winston-Salem team that brings the firm’s total number of lawyers in the city to 10.
“For someone of [Wilson’s] stature to express interest, we were just absolutely delighted and saw as [he] mentioned just tremendous synergies between what we do here at Nelson Mullins and what the lawyers at Wilson & Helms are doing so it was a great opportunity for all of us,” said Nelson Mullins’ Winston-Salem office managing partner Denise Gunter, who joined the firm in 2003 from what is now Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton.
Wilson & Helms will bring Nelson Mullins its four new litigators in Winston-Salem, as well as two administrative assistants. Of the former’s three remaining staff, two have already found other positions in the legal industry, while the other retired.
“No one was left in the wind,” said Wilson, a senior partner at Wilson & Helms.
Winston-Salem has recently been a hotbed of law firm consolidation. North Carolina’s Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice saw its trans-Atlantic merger with the U.K.’s Bond Dickinson go live earlier this month, forming Womble Bond Dickinson.
“You do see some movement and in our case a very happy movement that the Wilson & Helms lawyers were interested in joining our law firm,” Gunter said. “[Winston-Salem] is a strong market with a lot of legal talent.”
Nelson Mullins, which made its way onto the Am Law 100 list this year with a gross revenue of $380.5 million in 2016, has recently expanded its reach nationwide and in the Carolinas. In September, the firm absorbed the Charleston-based litigation shop of E. Bart Daniel, a former top federal prosecutor in South Carolina, to pick up a new leader of its white-collar crime and government investigations group.
That move came after Nelson Mullins opened its first West Coast office in Los Angeles in a bid to capture automotive industry work, while also recruiting Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo partner Bret Cohen in Boston to co-chair its labor and employment practice. In late October, Nelson Mullins welcomed Smith Moore Leatherwood partners Elizabeth Trahos and Brett Hanna to its ranks in Raleigh.