After more than forty five years in the private practice of law, thirty years with a parallel career as an officer in the United States Navy, twenty years as a Commissioner to the North Carolina Battleship Commission, and decades committed to his four children and his family, Sam Southern made the difficult decision to withdraw from the partnership and has retired from the practice of law. His wife Mary has been his companion on every step of this rich journey, and she remains his co-traveler as they begin their retirement.
Sam's skill set was unusual. A former Chair of the Health Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association, Sam was recognized by his peers as among the "Best Lawyers in America" and "North Carolina Super Lawyers" in the Health Law arena. Many attorneys might build a career on that foundation alone. In Sam's case, however, his knowledge of health law was only part of the foundation. With his quiet, courteous and professional demeanor, Sam was one of the most effective courtroom lawyers in medical malpractice and health care litigation in the state. His peers recognized this skill set as well, and they selected him as among the "Best Lawyers in America" in the medical malpractice arena.
Sam's experience in trial practice included not only medical malpractice defense, but also products liability, pharmaceutical liability, insurance litigation, commercial disputes, environmental litigation, and medical staff litigation. He has served as counsel in trials and appeals of cases of major importance to health care providers. He was selected as lead counsel by a major health care entity to defend a landmark out-of-state case with national repercussions. Sam also brought to counsel table his extensive experience in medical staff proceedings, and has been certified as a mediator by the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission.
Drawing from his knowledge of the health care system and his experience in the courts, Sam was especially equipped to counsel clients on structuring medical staff bylaws, risk management plans, peer review and medical staff issues, and policies designed to minimize claims against health care providers. In 2010 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award of the Health Law Section, "In recognition of his lifelong achievements and outstanding contributions to heath law, and his exemplary service to health care professionals, the bar, and the general public."
It is fitting that in his final year in the practice of law, Sam received one of the highest awards bestowed by the North Carolina State Bar. The John B. McMillan Distinguished Service Award is granted only once each year to one or two lawyers selected from among more than 25,000 lawyers throughout the State. In December 2015, this rare recognition was presented to Sam at the annual meeting of the 2015 North Carolina State Bar, capping off his distinguished career of service.