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James F. Wyatt, III

Background: James F. Wyatt, III is recognized as one of North Carolina’s leading trial lawyers. James attended Vanderbilt University, graduating in 1978 with summa cum laude honors.  He graduated from Duke Law School in 1982, after being the Executive Editor of the Duke Law Journal and a member of the Moot Court Board.  After graduating from Duke Law School, he clerked for United States District Court Judge Harold L. Murphy in the Northern District of Georgia. He then worked for three years with Bobby Lee Cook, Sr. of Summerville, Georgia.  Mr. Cook is the real life lawyer who the television show “Matlock” is loosely patterned after.  When working with Mr. Cook, James tried over 30 cases to verdict, ranging from a RICO trial to diverse federal and state cases, both civil and criminal. James opened his law practice in Charlotte in 1986, and has engaged in the trial of criminal and civil cases since then, now specializing in white collar defense, whistleblower cases and class action cases.

In 1991, at the age of 33, James was asked to present the topic of closing arguments at the North Carolina Criminal Defense “All Star” Seminar.  In 1991, he also received an “AV” Martindale Hubbell rating and was listed in Martindale Hubbell’s Register of Pre-Eminent Civil and Criminal Trial Lawyers.  In 1992, he was named one of the six top young attorneys in Charlotte.  In 1994, he was listed in Best Lawyers in America.  In 2005, James was selected by his peers as the best criminal defense lawyer in North Carolina. In 2006, James was named one of the Top 100 Super Lawyers in North Carolina.  In 2007, James spoke at an “All Star Trial Advocacy” program sponsored by the federal court system.

Currently, James is listed in Best Lawyers in America in four separate categories: Bet-The-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Non-White Collar Criminal Defense and White Collar Criminal Defense. He is also a Member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, an organization devoted to recognizing outstanding civil and criminal trial lawyers (with fewer than 1% of the lawyers in the United States and Canada becoming members of this organization after a thorough vetting process).

In addition to his representation of individuals and businesses in white collar and criminal defense matters, James has represented numerous plaintiffs in both class action litigation and qui tam lawsuits over the past 20 years.  In qui tam litigation, James has represented physicians, medical billing and coding personnel and other employees of medical practices in qui tam whistleblower lawsuits filed under the federal False Claims Act, the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Federal Physician Self-Referral Statute (or Stark Law), and the NC False Claims Act. These cases have included issues of false and fraudulent billing of Medicaid and Medicare services, upcoding, improper referrals and illegal kickbacks.  He has been lead or co-counsel in two recent qui tam settlements of over $100,000,000 each, and a recent class action settlement exceeding $1,000,000,000.

James recently presented a seminar to counsel throughout the State of North Carolina concerning the North Carolina False Claims Act.  A copy of the PowerPoint seminar presentation can be accessed here.  In addition, James recently co-authored two publications concerning the North Carolina False Claims Act, including a comparison of this statute with the federal False Claims Act .  These articles can be accessed here.


• 2017 – Listed Among Top 10 Lawyers in North Carolina by Super Lawyers
• 2016 The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyers
• 2016 Band 1 Ranking with Chambers and Partners: Litigation – White-Collar Crime and Government Investigations (North Carolina)
• 2015 National Association of Distinguished Counsel – Nation’s Top One Percent
• 2014-15 Best Lawyers Charlotte Criminal Defense: Non-White Collar Lawyer of the Year
• 2014 Best Lawyers: Banking and Finance Lawyer of the Year
• 2013 The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers
• 2011 Best Lawyers Charlotte Criminal Defense: White-Collar Lawyer of the Year
• 2008 to Present – Elected to Membership in American College of Trial Lawyers
• 2008 to Present – Listed by Corporate Counsel as one of the Top Lawyers in Bet the Company Litigation
• 2005 to Present – Charlotte Magazine – Listed as one of North Carolina’s “Superlawyers”
• 2005 Business North Carolina – Listed as North Carolina’s Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in article entitled “Legal Elite – Up On The Law.”
• 2004 Business North Carolina – Listed as one of North Carolina’s best lawyers in article entitled “Legal Elite”
• Listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in American Lawyers
• 1999 Charlotte Magazine – Listed as one of Charlotte’s best lawyers in article entitled “These Are The City’s Best Lawyers”
• 1994 – Present – Listed in The Best Lawyers in America
• 1991 – Present – Listed in Martindale-Hubbell’s Bar Register of Preeminent Civil and Criminal Trial Attorneys
• 1992 – One of six lawyers profiled in an article published by The Business Journal in Charlotte entitled “The Verdict Is In: Charlotte’s Top Young Attorneys” (May 1992)
• 1991 – Selected as Speaker for North Carolina State Bar “All-Star Criminal Defense Lawyers” Seminar (topic: Closing Arguments)

Legal Community/Activities:

• Board of Directors of Federal Defenders of Western North Carolina, Inc. (2004 – present)
• Committee Member of the Fourth Circuit CJA Appellate Panel Committee, appointed by the Fourth Circuit Court Judges (2007 – 2012)
• Trustee – McKnight Education Trust Foundation (2005 – present)
• Chairman of the Board of Directors and President of the Federal Defenders of Western North Carolina, Inc., the federal defender organization for the Western District of North Carolina (2004 – 2008)
• Board of Governors, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers (1997 – 2000)
• Chairman and Member, Federal Bar Advisory Council (1996 – 2001)
• Criminal Law Section of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers (President 1994-1995, Chairman/Lawyer’s Assistance Committee 1991 – 1992, Secretary 1992 – 1993, Vice-President 1993 – 1994)
• 1991 – Organized the Mecklenburg County Bar’s Habitat for Humanity Project (first Habitat House built solely by a bar association in the nation)
• 1991 – 1995: Board of Directors, Davidson Habitat for Humanity
• Speakers Counsel, Charlotte Habitat for Humanity

Education: Duke University (J.D., 1982); Vanderbilt University (B.S., Salutatorian, summa cum laude, 1978)

Admitted: 1986, U.S. District Court, Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of North Carolina and U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit; 1982, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia and U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit

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