Sam Ervin IV, Brooks Pierce Photo

Sam J. Ervin IV

Of Counsel


Sam J. Ervin IV, brings his nearly 18 years in private practice and more than 23 years’ experience as a public servant to his work in assisting clients with a variety of regulatory and litigation-related matters. Before joining Brooks Pierce, he served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina for eight years, as a Judge of the North Carolina Court of Appeals for six years, and as a Commissioner of the North Carolina Utilities Commission for nine and a half years. During his time as a Utilities Commissioner, he served as Chair of the Subcommittee on Nuclear Issues and the Committee on Electricity of the National Association of Regulatory Utilities Commissioners and as a member of the board of the Organization of PJM States. During his time in private practice, former Justice Ervin handled a wide variety of civil, criminal, and administrative matters and participated in many civil and criminal jury trials and numerous civil and criminal appeals to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and the North Carolina Supreme Court. He is a Board Certified Specialist in Utilities Law from the North Carolina State Bar Board of Legal Specialization.

My Practices

  • As a practitioner and former regulator, Mr. Ervin has extensive experience in and a unique perspective about litigating and deciding matters before the North Carolina Utilities Commission, including those involving rate, generating plant certification, business organization, and quality of service issues. In addition, Mr. Ervin played an advisory role in the drafting of important pieces of utilities-related legislation while a member of the Utilities Commission. 

  • As both a practitioner and former state appellate judge, Mr. Ervin has been involved in handling and deciding many civil, criminal, and administrative appeals in the North Carolina state courts, including cases that deal with important business-related questions.

  • Mr. Ervin participated in trying numerous civil cases to juries during his time in private practice and in deciding hundreds of litigated cases while serving on the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

  • Mr. Ervin participated in trying numerous criminal cases before juries while in private practice and devoted approximately one-half of his time as an appellate judge to deciding such cases.


Honors & Recognitions

Recognized by his peers for inclusion in Business North Carolina’s "Legal Elite" in Appellate Law (2024)

Liberty Bell Award, North Carolina Bar Association (2023)


Harvard Law School, J.D., 1981, cum laude

Davidson College, B.A., 1978, magna cum laude


Certified as a Specialist in Utilities Law by the North Carolina State Bar Board of Legal Specialization (NCBLS)


North Carolina

United States Supreme Court

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

United States District Court for the Western, Middle, and Eastern Districts of North Carolina


Professional & Civic

Professional & Civic Activities

Associate Justice, Supreme Court of North Carolina (2015-2023)

Judge, North Carolina Court of Appeals (2009-2015)

Commissioner, North Carolina Utilities Commission (1999-2009)

Chair, Committee on Electricity, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (2005-2008)

Chair, Subcommittee on Nuclear Issues, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (2004-2005)

Private Practice (1981-1999)

Member, First Presbyterian Church of Morganton (former elder and deacon and current member of the Administrative Committee)

Officiates age group, middle school, and high school soccer matches

About Me

I was born, grew up, and raised in Morganton, North Carolina, where I still live. I am a fourth generation lawyer and live in the house that my great-great grandfather and great-grandfather, who practiced from the 1870s until the 1940s, began building in the 1870s. As a child, I remember going to court with my father, who was then a Superior Court Judge, and talking with my grandfather and other family members about legal issues. During those conversations, I learned that the law is the glue that holds our society together, that the law applies equally to everybody, that no person is above the law, and that all of us have both legal rights and legal responsibilities. As far as I am concerned, the role of a lawyer in our legal system is to do everything that is legally and ethically possible and consistent with the exercise of sound judgment to ensure that each client’s legal rights are protected and that every client who is entitled to a legal remedy obtains one. I look forward, after a lengthy career in public service, to resuming the representation of the firm’s clients and helping those clients to achieve the best possible result.

In my spare time, I enjoy reading, with my favorite authors including writers such as William Faulkner, Thomas Wolfe, and Robert Penn Warren; hiking in the mountains of western North Carolina and in the other places that I’ve had the opportunity to visit; and officiating age group, middle school, and high school soccer matches, which is an activity that will teach those involved in it a lot about the necessity for humility and the important role that perspective plays in everything that we see and do. Finally, my wife and I are acoustic music devotees, and I’ve helped her put on over 70 house concerts at our home in Morganton.  

  • 3
    Helped officiate three North Carolina high school state soccer finals (one as an assistant referee and two as the fourth official)
  • 40
    Hiked to the top of all 40 mountains in the southeast that are more than 6,000 feet high
  • 18
    Participated in arguing in 18 appeals before the Supreme Court of North Carolina
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