There are about 32,000 attorneys licensed to practice in North Carolina.
Approximately 4% are North Carolina State Bar Board Certified Specialists, and 10 of them practice right here at our firm.3
While N.C. Board certification isn’t offered for personal injury/car accident practice areas (or many other types of practice areas), it is offered for workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability law.
North Carolina State Bar Board Certification Explained
So what exactly does it mean to be Board certified? It means you have an attorney who shows special knowledge and proficiency in their specific area of law, having undergone additional training (and other intense analysis) to become certified as a specialist.
It’s a little like commercial pilot training. Certain airports with particularly dangerous runways or topography require specialized pilot training and certification to fly into.
Now unlike pilot certifications, a lack of specialization does not prevent an attorney from practicing, but it does indicate a certain level of expertise and accomplishment.
The North Carolina State Bar puts it another way: “Certification of lawyers as specialists by an objective entity and according to objective criteria fulfills the mission of the State Bar to protect the public by providing relevant, truthful, and reliable information to consumers of legal services.
Certification helps consumers to identify lawyers who have experience and skill in a certain area of practice. Certification also helps lawyers by encouraging them to improve their expertise in particular areas of practice and providing them with a legitimate way of informing the public and other lawyers of this expertise.”
North Carolina State Bar Board Certification Requirements
North Carolina is one of only 14 states that sponsors a State Bar Board certification program.
Several North Carolina State Bar Board Certified Specialists at James Scott Farrin
If you are looking for an attorney who is an N.C. State Bar Board Certified Specialist in workers’ compensation law or Social Security Disability law, you won’t find many. Less than 1% of all attorneys licensed to practice in North Carolina are Board Certified Specialists in workers’ compensation law.3 There are even fewer in Social Security Disability law – less than 40, in fact.3 We have 10 N.C. State Bar Board Certified Specialists here at our firm.
Workers’ Compensation Specialists at James Scott Farrin
Doug Berger joined us in 2005 and is a Partner of the firm. Doug is a former North Carolina State Senator and also served as a Deputy Commissioner at the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) for 10 years. Doug was named to the “Best Lawyers” list for workers’ compensation law by Best Lawyers in America from 2021-2023.4
Ryan Bliss joined the firm in 2012 after having been a worker’s compensation defense attorney representing insurance companies, and he is a Partner of the firm. This experience allowed him to see how workers’ compensation law is practiced from both sides. Super Lawyers magazine listed Ryan as a “Rising Star” in workers’ compensation law in 2018.5
Matt Harbin joined the firm in 2003 and became a Partner in 2008. Matt was appointed by (former) North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue to a two-and-a-half-year term on the North Carolina Commission for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services. Matt was named to the “Best Lawyers” list for workers’ compensation law by Best Lawyers in America from 2021-2023.4
Matthew Healey ran a workers’ compensation department at another N.C. firm prior to joining our firm, of which he is now a Partner. He has been selected to Best Lawyers in America’s annual list of workers’ compensation lawyers every year since 2013.4 North Carolina Super Lawyers listed him as a “Rising Star” from 2010–2013 and a “Super Lawyer” from 2014–2016, and 2021.5,6 Best Lawyers went a step further and named Matthew as a workers’ compensation “Lawyer of the Year” for Raleigh in 2015, 2017, and 2022.7
Daniel Lehrer joined the firm in 2019 handling workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Daniel’s background also includes Social Security Disability law. He has also been selected to Best Lawyers in America’s “Ones to Watch” annual list for workers’ compensation and personal injury law from 2021-2023.4
Ali Overby joined the firm in 2015, is a member of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, and was named to the “Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch” list for workers’ compensation law by Best Lawyers in America from 2021-2023.4
Michael Roessler joined the firm in 2015, after having represented personal injury and workers’ compensation clients for more than five years, and he is now a Partner. Michael is passionate about representing marginalized members of the community and is an advocate of individuals’ rights. He was named to the “Best Lawyers” list for workers’ compensation law by Best Lawyers in America from 2022-2023.4
Josh D. Smith joined the firm in 2014 and was named to the “Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch” list for workers’ compensation law by Best Lawyers in America from 2021-2023.4 He serves as the Communications Chair for the Workers’ Compensation Section of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice.
Susan Vanderweert represented insurance companies and employers for more than 12 years before joining our firm. Susan, a Partner of the firm, has received the 2021 Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ designation — the gold standard in attorney ratings.8 She has also been selected to Best Lawyers in America’s annual “Best Lawyers in America” list for workers’ compensation law from 2021-2023.4
Social Security Disability Specialist at James Scott Farrin
Rick Fleming joined the firm in 2002 and is a Partner and head of the firm’s Social Security Disability department. He is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States. Rick is also the Fourth and DC Circuits representative for the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) Board of Directors, and has supported the organization in a variety of leading roles. He will serve as the President of NOSSCR in 2024.
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3Figures and percentages provided by the N.C. State Bar as of January 2023.
4For more information regarding the standards for inclusion, visit www.bestlawyers.com.
5For more information regarding the standards for inclusion, visit www.superlawyers.com.
6For more information regarding the standards for inclusion, visit www.superlawyers.com.
7For more information regarding the standards for inclusion, visit www.bestlawyers.com.
8For more information regarding the standards for peer review ratings, visit www.martindale.com.Text Us