Jim Phillips is frequently called upon by businesses, professional firms, educational institutions, individuals, and municipalities to represent them when complex legal and regulatory issues arise. Frequently these matters lead to litigation, and for many years, Jim's advocacy skills have been recognized by his peers. He has been voted as one of North Carolina's "Top 100" lawyers, and is recognized regularly for Business Litigation in North Carolina Super Lawyers. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America©, recognized in Business North Carolina's "Legal Elite" in Litigation, listed in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, and recognized as a litigation star in Benchmark Litigation.

For three years during the 1990s, Jim served as Legislative Counsel to the Honorable Jim Hunt, Governor of North Carolina. Jim currently serves on the Board of Directors of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, BESTNC and the James B. Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy.  Jim also chairs the Administration of Justice Committee of the N.C. Bar Association.  Previously, Jim served on the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, chairing the Board from 2006 through 2008.

Jim is known for his effective advocacy in the courtroom, and has litigated complex business matters in federal and state courts in North Carolina and across the United States. He has led the defense of significant claims for violations of the federal and state securities laws, and has litigated numerous intellectual property and trade secrets cases, many of which involved preliminary hearings seeking injunctive relief. In addition, Jim has litigated cases involving contracts, real property, employment issues, tax issues, defamation, construction issues and a variety of business torts.

Learn more about this practice area

Jim has significant complex business litigation experience, both in North Carolina and in venues throughout the nation. He has represented clients in matters involving intellectual property, federal securities law, contracts, real property, state insurance regulation, defamation claims, First Amendment rights, construction issues, tax matters, employment matters, and other sophisticated commercial controversies. By way of example, Jim has:

  • Defended the three major U.S. tobacco companies against claims brought by the States of Maryland and Pennsylvania. The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that no monies were owed and dismissed the States’ claims.

  • Obtained a judgment for a significant operator of adult care homes in North Carolina which was affirmed on appeal exempting that operator from the legislatively mandated moratoriums on the certification of need obligations and operation of new adult care homes in the state.  Later, Jim argued and won a challenge by a competitor of that adult care home business contending that all new homes required a Certificate of Need issued by the State.

  • Successfully represented a major U.S. tobacco company in multi-year litigation matter asserting breach of contract and unfair competition claims in the North Carolina Business Court.

  • Represented a large restaurant franchisee asserting claims against one of the largest banks in the country for substantially overcharging in connection with equipment leases. The matter was resolved satisfactorily.

Learn more about this practice area

Jim is regularly engaged to defend national and regional accounting firms, law firms, and other businesses against claims alleging professional negligence or violations of the securities laws. He has appeared in state and federal courts in North Carolina and other Southeastern states on related matters.

For example, Jim:

  • Successfully defended a national insurance agency against claims arising under Delaware law for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. Four of the five claims against the agency were dismissed, and the matter was resolved shortly thereafter.
  • Defended a major North Carolina law firm against securities fraud claims in federal court in South Carolina. The matter was resolved satisfactorily.

  • Defended a national accounting firm against malpractice claims asserted by its client. After two weeks of trial, the case was settled on favorable terms.

  • Defended another national accounting firm against claims asserted by a trustee in bankruptcy. The matter was resolved satisfactorily.

  • Defended the President of a Florida-based insurance agency and its parent company against claims for wrongful interference with contract and other claims in Michigan State Court. Obtained a dismissal of all claims.

Learn more about this practice area

In the last several years, Jim has represented a number of cities, school boards, and public bodies across North Carolina who have challenged legislation restricting or taking their authority. Jim has:

  • Successfully challenged the constitutionality of an act of the North Carolina General Assembly moving control of Charlotte Douglas International Airport from the City of Charlotte to an independent commission.
  • Obtained a preliminary injunction on behalf of two of North Carolina’s largest school systems, enjoining application of two recently passed laws retroactively abolishing tenure for public school teachers and requiring the school systems to contract with teachers in exchange for the teacher’s relinquishment of their tenure rights.
  • Successfully obtained a preliminary injunction on behalf of the Town of Boone of an Act adopted by the North Carolina General Assembly, which abolished Boone's powers of extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Jim continues to represent municipalities, school boards, or other public institutions in matters relating to the balance of power and constitutional law issues. He recently represented the City of Greensboro and obtained a preliminary injunction halting implementation of fundamental changes to Greensboro's form of governance. 

Learn more about this practice area

Excerpt from Chambers USA 2015:

Jim Phillips is held in high esteem by peers for his work on a variety of intellectual property, contract and general business disputes. He is particularly praised for his knowledge of individual businesses, with one source commenting: "The ability to act quickly and effectively was a direct result of the time Jim has spent getting to know and understand our business and developing a relationship of trust with management."

Jim has litigated numerous intellectual property and trade secrets cases, many seeking immediate preliminary injunctive relief. He recently represented a major tobacco company asserting unfair competition claims and breach of contract in the North Carolina Business Court. That matter settled favorably while the trial date was pending.

Learn more about this practice area

Because of his background in state government, Jim has the ability to design and implement strategies directed at regulators which frequently lead to positive results for clients.

In addition to his trial practice, Jim regularly appears on behalf of clients in the telecommunications, retail, hospitality, healthcare, and financial services industries in administrative proceedings. He represents clients in hearings before the North Carolina Utilities Commission, the North Carolina Property Tax Commission, the North Carolina Tax Review Board, and the North Carolina Board of Elections, as well as in a number of proceedings before the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Learn more about this practice area

Selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in Bet-the-Company Litigation (2018), Commercial Litigation, Litigation - Intellectual Property, and Litigation - Securities (Greensboro "Lawyer of the Year" 2018) (2006-2018)

Recognized in North Carolina Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters) in Business Litigation (2006-2017); Top 100 (2007-2009)

Recognized in Super Lawyers Business Edition in Business Litigation (2015)

Recognized by his peers for inclusion in Business North Carolina's "Legal Elite" in Litigation (2005-2006, 2008-2010, 2015-2016)

Recognized by Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business for Litigation: General Commercial (2004-2017), and Litigation (2004)

Recognized by Benchmark Litigation as a "Litigation Star"  in General Commercial Litigation and Intellectual Property (2015-2017)

Board of Governors, University of North Carolina, Board Chair, 2006-2008; Member, 1997-2009

Trustee, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, 2011-present

Director, James B. Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy, 2010-present

Chair, Administration of Justice Committee, North Carolina Bar Association, 2015-present

Chair, Greensboro Economic Development Alliance, 2010-2014

"I decided I didn’t want to run for President, and I wasn’t going to be the third baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, so I became an attorney.

I’m a litigator because I like to compete and win. That was true when I was younger and played baseball, and it’s one of the reasons I like politics today. I enjoy being involved with teams of people working for a common goal that really matters. 

At Brooks Pierce, complex litigation is a team sport. There are two (or sometimes, more) sides, and a clear set of rules. Not always, but most of the time, the team that works the hardest, that hones their natural talents, that prepares the most thoroughly, wins.  I pride myself and our team on working hard and smart to win for our clients."

-Jim Phillips, April 2015

[Jim Phillips] is a skilled trial lawyer equally at home in the Business Court or federal courts. He is described as 'extremely bright, a wonderful communicator, a good guy and a good leader of people.' – From 2014 Chambers USA

Recent Publications & Media

Speaking Engagements

November 13, 2009

Jim Phillips Presents "Credible Persuasion"

Brooks Pierce partner Jim Phillips participated in the North Carolina Bar Association's Appellate Rules Committee CLE program on November 13 in Cary, NC. The CLE was entitled "Communicate, Advocate, Persuade - the Definition of Appeals." Jim presented "Credible Persuasion" and discussed the limits...Read more

Recent Publications & Media