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James G. Exum Jr.

James G. Exum Jr.


T (336) 378-5385
F (336) 378-5400

Jim Exum, Jr., retired as Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court in December 1994, after 28 years on the bench--8 years as a superior court judge in Guilford County and 20 years on the state supreme court.  Before being appointed to the bench, he served in the 1967 North Carolina General Assembly and practiced law with this firm, or its predecessors, from 1961 until 1967 and from 1996 until the present.  He helped establish and was the first leader of the firm’s Appellate Practice Group.

  • 2009 John McNeill Smith, Jr., Award from the North Carolina Bar Association Constitutional Rights and Responsibilities Section
  • North Carolina Super Lawyers, Listed Appellate (2006-2011)
  • Selected by his peers as Greensboro Best Lawyers Lawyer of the Year (Woodward/White, Inc.), Appellate Practice (2014)
  • Listed, The Best Lawyers in America® (Woodward/White, Inc.), Appellate Law, Bet-the-Company Litigation (2007-2016)
  • Martindale-Hubbell's top ("AV") Peer Review Rating *
  • Judge John J. Parker Award, North Carolina Bar Association
  • Alumni Achievement Award, NYU School of Law
  • Herbert Harley Award, The American Judicature Society
  • James Iredell Award, Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, Norman A. Wiggins School of Law, Campbell University
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • William Richardson Davie Award, Trustees, UNC-CH
  • Distinguished Service Award, General Alumni Association, UNC-CH
  • Frank Porter Graham Award, American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina
  • President, Phi Beta Kappa, UNC-CH
  • Morehead Scholar, UNC-CH
  • Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, UNC-CH
  • Root-Tilden Scholar, New York University School of Law
  • Benjamin F. Butler Memorial Award, NYU School of Law

* CV, BV, and AV are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedure's standards and policies.


Representative Work

  • While an Associate Justice and Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, Jim Exum wrote 402 opinions for the Court and 208 concurring or dissenting opinions.  As a lawyer, he has participated in over 40 appeals in state and federal appellate courts.

    Representative, recent appellate cases in which he participated in both the briefing and oral arguments are:
    • Analog Devices, Inc. v. Michalski, _____ N.C. App. _____, 579 S.E.2d 449 (2003)
    • Governors Club, Inc. v. Governors Club Ltd Partnership, et al, 152 N.C. App. 240, 567 S.E.2d 781 (2002), aff'd, 357 N.C. 46, 577 S.E.2d 620 (2003)
    • Martishius v. Carolco Studios, 355 N.C. 465, 562 S.E.2d 887 (2002)
    • Royal, et al. v. State, et al., 153 N.C. App. 495, 570 S.E.2d 738 (2002), review denied, 356 N.C. 677, 576 S.E.2d 111 (2003)
    • Guilford Financial Services v. City of Brevard, 356 N.C. 655, 576 S.E.2d 325 (2002)
    • Piedmont Triad Airport Authority v. Urbine, 354 N.C. 336, 554 S.E.2d 331 (2001)
    • Williamson v. Liptzin, 141 N.C. App. 1, 539 S.E.2d 313 (2000), review denied, 353 N.C. 456 (2001)
    • New Horizon of New York, LLC v. Jacobs, et al., 231 F.3d 143 (4th Cir. 2000)
    • State v. Israel, 353 N.C. 211, 539 S.E.2d 633 (2000)
    • Cato v. Crown Financial, 131 N.C. App. 154, 683, 508 S.E.2d 822 (1998, review denied, 350 N.C. 836, 536 S.E.2d 836 (1999)


  • Law Clerk, Senior Associate Justice Emery B. Denny, North Carolina Supreme Court, 1960-61
  • Attorney, Smith Moore Smith Schell & Hunter, Greensboro, NC, 1961-67
  • Member, North Carolina House of Representatives, 1967
  • Resident Superior Court Judge, Guilford County, 1967-74
  • Associate Justice, North Carolina Supreme Court, 1974-86
  • Chief Justice, North Carolina Supreme Court, 1986-94
  • Of Counsel, Smith Moore, 1996-present
  • Adjunct Faculty, Duke University School of Law, 1995-96
  • General Counsel, General Alumni Association, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1998-2001

* Past success does not indicate the likelihood of success in any future legal representation.

Thought Leadership

Published Works

  • "Appellate Advocacy", The Appellate Advocate (American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, Issue 1, 2003)
  • "The Warren Court and State Constitutional Law," The Warren Court, Ed. Bernard Schwartz (Oxford University Press, 1996)(Chapter co-written with Professor Louis D. Bilionis, UNC School of Law, Chapel Hill)
  • "Rediscovering State Constitutions," 70 N.C. L. Rev. 1741 (1992)
  • "Judicial Selection in North Carolina," North Carolina State Bar Quarterly, (Vol. 35, No. 3, Summer 1988)
  • "The Legal Profession:  How Do We See Ourselves?" North Carolina State Bar Quarterly, (Vol. 35, No. 2, Spring 1988)
  • "The Death Penalty in North Carolina," 8 Campbell Law Review 1 (1985)
  • "The Lawyer as Peacemaker," Barnotes, (North Carolina Bar Association, Vol. 34, No. 1, Feb-Mar 1983)
  • "The Perjurious Criminal Defendant:  A Solution to His Lawyer's Dilemma," Social Responsibility:  Journalism, Law, Medicine, Vol. VI (Washington and Lee University, 1980)


  • Paul Green Foundation; Sustainable North Carolina; Fair Trial Initiative; Court Watch; Habitat for Humanity, 1995-98
  • Mason, 32°, K.C.C.H.
  • Greensboro City Club
  • Carolina Club
  • Sherwood Swim & Racquet Club
  • Neuse Sailing Association
  • Watauga Club
  • Conversation Club
  • New York University School of Law, LL.B., 1960
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, A.B., 1957
  • Senior Appellate Judge's Seminar, Institute of Judicial Administration, NYU School of Law, 1976
  • United States Supreme Court, 2001
  • North Carolina, 1960
  • Fellow, American Academy of Appellate Lawyers
  • American Bar Association:  House of Delegates, 1993-96; Chairperson, ABA Criminal Justice Standards Committee, 1990-93
  • Fellow, American Bar Association Foundation: State Chair, 1995-2003
  • North Carolina Bar Association:  Member, Committee on Judicial Independence, 2003-present; Appellate Rules Study Committee, 1985-87; Vice-Chairman, Task Force on Alternatives to Litigation, 1983-85; Vice-President, 1979-80
  • International Society of Barristers
  • Guilford Inn of Court
Military Service
  • U.S. Army

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