William Cary, Brooks Pierce Photo

William P.H. Cary



Bill Cary works with a variety of public and private entities in the emerging area of Climate Resilience planning and strategies. He also has extensive experience in employment law, counseling employers to avoid conflict and guiding them through difficult transitions, whether systemic or specific. Bill’s career has included extensive experience in litigation and mediation, especially in employment and environmental disputes.

My Practices

  • Bill helps the Firm’s clients address the risks and opportunities that climate change and extreme weather bring. His recent work with U. S. Department of Defense and several NGOs working together to identify ways to strengthen the resilience of coastal DoD facilities has led to projects being submitted to the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program (REPI). He is also actively engaged with the Southeast Regional Partnership for Planning and Sustainability, which brings together state and federal agencies from six southeastern states to focus on environmental sustainability initiatives that promote conservation as part of assuring military readiness and is now focusing on coastal resilience issues. He is working with several NGOs to develop and implement specific recommendations as part of the NC Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan. This is an emerging area, and Bill helps clients learn about the state and federal resources potentially available and assists in formulating appropriate strategies to plan for the impacts these changes will have on our clients’ businesses and communities.

  • Having previously served as general counsel of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Bill has a comprehensive understanding of the agency’s methods, practices, procedures and personnel. He has extensive experience in compliance planning and litigation, especially CWA issues and emerging coastal management practices. He was part of the team that developed the NC Oyster Mariculture Plan, which resulted in legislation promoting development of this industry with broad bipartisan support.

  • Bill has over 40 years of experience counseling employers through difficult employment decisions while complying with the maze of employment-related laws. He has extensive experience in employment contracting issues, including non-competition and non-solicitation drafting and litigation, and employment practices audits. Bill also has planning and litigation experience in FLSA executive compliance issues.

  • Bill is experienced in a wide variety of litigation and arbitration areas, including construction, environmental, real property, and contract disputes.

    Bill is also a graduate of the state mediator program and has extensive experience in using non-traditional techniques to solve complex problems, including conducting hundreds of private mediations.


Honors & Recognitions

Recognized as a "Labor and Employment Star" by Benchmark Litigation (2021)

Appointed to the NC Coastal Federation President’s Council (2021)

Pelican Award for Leadership and Commitment to Advancing Effective Coastal Policy, North Carolina Coastal Federation, August 2019

Recognized by Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business for Labor & Employment Law (2004-2011, 2017-2018)

Selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in Labor and Employment Litigation, Employment Law - Management, and Labor Law - Management (Greensboro Lawyer of the Year 2015, 2019, 2023) (1995-2024)

Recognized by his peers for inclusion in Business North Carolina’s "Legal Elite" in Employment Law (2003, 2006, 2009, 2012-2014)

Recognized in North Carolina Super Lawyers in Employment & Labor Law (2006-2012, 2014-2020)

Member, North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society (2019-2021, 2023)

Recognized in Super Lawyers Business Edition in Employment & Labor Law (2015)

Environmental Leadership Award, North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, December 2012


University of Virginia School of Law, J.D., 1976

University of Virginia, M.B.A., 1976

University of Virginia, B.A., 1971,  Echols Scholar


North Carolina


U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit

U.S. District Court for the Western, Middle, and Eastern Districts of North Carolina




Professional & Civic

Professional & Civic Activities

Chair (2007-2009); Vice Chair (2003-2007); Board Member (1999-2003), NC School of Science and Mathematics

Board Member, Piedmont Triad, National Conference for Community & Justice (NCCJ) (2002-2006)

Board Member, the United Arts Council of Greensboro (“ArtsGreensboro”) (2010-2020), General Counsel (1985-2010)

Board Member, North Carolina Folk Festival (2019-present)

Board Member, Labor & Employment Section, North Carolina Bar Association

Member, Environmental, Employment, and Litigation Sections, American Bar Association and North Carolina Bar Association

Council Member, Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Law Section, North Carolina Bar Association (2013-present)

About Me

After 35 years as a private practice lawyer, in which I litigated in a wide variety of courts and agencies as well as counseled a broad spectrum of clients, I took almost a year “off” to work as a state government employee (General Counsel of the N.C. Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources). It was an eye opening and enriching experience. The job was fascinating—covering all aspects of a typical general counsel position of an entity with nearly 4,000 employees and more than 15 departments (contracting, employment, litigation), plus the wonderful world of state and federal financing and politics. But more interesting was seeing the agency up close. I was truly impressed with the overall dedication, knowledge and cooperative spirit of the career employees. It was a privilege to try to help them, and I see the public sector in an entirely new light. It lead to my current interest in working with private and public entities to plan for and manage private enterprises and public natural resources in the face of the risks presented by climate change. The greatest contribution we can make to our clients is the application of informed creativity, and the more we learn, the more new connections we see.

  • 16
    16 States (and 2 Canadian Provinces) visited in 12 days, by car
  • 7
    7 States and 3 countries I’ve resided in for at least 3 months
  • 44
    44 years with the same employer
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