RALEIGH, N.C. — Poyner Spruill LLP is proud to announce that eight attorneys received a total of nine recognitions as members of Business North Carolina’s 2019 class of Legal Elite. This included Keith Johnson becoming a member of the Business North Carolina’s Legal Elite Hall of Fame for Environmental attorneys.

Since 2002, Business North Carolina magazine has honored attorneys with a listing of the state’s top lawyers in business-related categories. Winners are chosen not by the publication’s editors but by the state’s lawyers.

Each year, BNC sends ballot notices to every member of the North Carolina State Bar living in North Carolina asking them to rate the top attorneys in each category based on their personal experience or knowledge. Attorneys are not allowed to vote for themselves and can only select members of their own firm if they pick out-of-firm lawyers in the same categories, with the latter votes weighted more heavily.

In addition to Johnson being named the top Environmental attorney for 2019, the following seven attorneys also earned recognition in the 2019 Legal Elite:


Kevin Ceglowski represents employers in many areas of labor and employment law, including race, age, gender, religion, national origin, and disability employment discrimination claims, wrongful discharge claims, and wage and hour claims. He defends clients before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Labor, and the North Carolina Employment Security Commission, in state and federal courts and in arbitrations.

Bo Dempster has more than 20 years of business and professional experience, working with a large number and wide variety of clients, crossing both geographic and industry lines. He has represented a number of business and institutional clients with respect to planning and execution of acquisition and growth strategies, and has worked with companies seeking to divest themselves of business lines or navigating foreclosures and business shutdowns.

Steve Epstein’s litigation practice concentrates on commercial and business litigation, product liability defense, and general civil litigation and appeals. In 2014, after nearly 25 years in law practice, he decided to migrate into the area of family law, where he now advises clients and represents them in litigation regarding separation and divorce, child custody and support, alimony and post-separation support, and equitable distribution.

Drew Erteschik focuses his practice on high-stakes litigation, complex business disputes, and appeals. He co-chairs the firm’s Government and Constitutional Litigation Practice Group, and he also co-chairs the firm’s Appellate Practice Group. In his defense of corporate and government defendants, Drew has a track record of winning dismissals of high-exposure lawsuits soon after they are filed, in addition to significant trial experience. He is a board-certified specialist in appellate practice.

Chad Essick primarily represents landowners and developers before local boards of adjustment, planning commissions, city councils and county commissioners on matters related to zoning, permitting, variances, annexations, special use permits, site plans, subdivisions, and road closings. He also represents landowners, developers and local governments in state and federal court and administration proceedings on myriad land use, zoning and real estate issues. Chad also regularly represents buyers and sellers in multimillion-dollar real estate transactions.

Cecil Harrison maintains an active employment litigation practice, and his experience is includes civil cases and administrative matters arising under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 and the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act. He has also litigated to verdict a number of common law claims and has handled numerous cases on appeal at both federal and state levels, and has an extensive practice before numerous administrative agencies.

Keith Johnson represents clients in property development and redevelopment projects, with particular expertise in addressing environmental issues and obtaining permits and other land use entitlements under local ordinances and state law. He has assisted developers and local governments with the planning, permitting and construction of a variety of projects, including solid waste recycling and disposal facilities, and compliance with the state Environmental Policy Act.

Jennifer Parser’s practice includes a broad range of immigration and labor and employment matters. She is a multilingual attorney able to handle all immigration matters, including H-1B visas; L-1A, L-1B, and H visas; J-1 visas; E-1, E-2, and Australian E-3 visas; F visas and the OPT period option; the newly enacted deferred action program for undocumented youth; O and P visas; TN visas; PERM labor certifications; permanent resident; investor-, employment-, and family-based visa petitions; deportation and political asylum cases; and naturalization and renunciation matters.

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