AA Contact info

Deborah J. Smith
Phone: 919.821.6632
Fax: 919.821.6800

Practice Areas

Bar & Court Admissions

  • North Carolina
  • Numerous federal trial and appellate courts


Yale Law School, J.D., 1998

  • Notes Editor on the Yale Law Journal

Duke University, B.A., 1993


  • Law Clerk for the Hon. Gerald B. Tjoflat of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
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Photo of Clifton L. Brinson

Clifton L. Brinson

  • 150 Fayetteville Street, Suite 2300
    Raleigh, North Carolina 27601
  • Phone: 919.821.6605
  • Fax: 919.821.6800

Cliff Brinson litigates business disputes. He assists clients with a full range of commercial litigation matters, including contract disputes, tortious interference, defamation, and unfair trade practices. Cliff has extensive experience representing companies and individuals in corporate and securities litigation, including mergers and acquisitions litigation, disputes between business entities and their investment partners, and internal shareholder disputes in closely-held companies. 

Cliff has successfully taken cases to trial and handled appeals in both federal and state courts, including the North Carolina Business Court. In 2010, Cliff helped a client obtain a $37 million judgment at trial in a commercial contract case, one of the largest jury verdicts in North Carolina history. The judgment was affirmed unanimously by the Court of Appeals in August 2012, and satisfied in full in September 2012 ($48.5 million including interest). In 2013, Cliff helped a client obtain a declaratory judgment at trial in another commercial contract case, resulting in cost savings to the client of over $100 million. Following trial, the court awarded the client over $1.2 million in fees and costs.

Cliff was previously an attorney in the securities enforcement group at WilmerHale in Washington, D.C.

Professional & Community Affiliations

  • Co-Chair, Securities Litigation Subcommittee of the Commercial & Business Litigation Committee, American Bar Association
  • North Carolina Business Court Rules Committee
  • North Carolina Bar Association, Litigation Section
  • Wake County Bar Association

Honors & Awards

  • Benchmark Litigation, North Carolina State Litigation Star (2015-2017)
  • Benchmark Litigation, North Carolina State Future Star (2009-2014)
  • North Carolina Super Lawyers (2014-2017)
  • North Carolina Super Lawyers, Rising Star (2010, 2012)


  • In multiple cases, represented the target company’s board of directors in merger litigation
  • Represented a public company’s directors in a shareholder suit challenging the company’s forum-selection bylaw
  • Represented the acquirer in a merger between two real estate companies in a shareholder class action
  • Represented a telecommunications company in a post-closing dispute, in which the acquirer sought indemnification based on breaches of representations and warranties in the merger agreement
  • Represented a public company threatened with litigation regarding its proxy statement disclosures
  • Represented corrugated packaging companies in a post-closing dispute relating to a deferred payment provision in the asset sale agreement
  • Represented a group of shareholders to obtain judicial dissolution of a corporation in which management had been wasting corporate assets
  • Represented a minority shareholder in a contract dispute with the company over ongoing royalty payments
  • Represented a plasma center developer in a contract dispute with a pharmaceutical company
  • Represented a publishing company in arbitration in a contract dispute with a printer
  • Represented a private security company in enforcement of arbitration agreements between the company and its independent contractors
  • Represented tobacco manufacturers in North Carolina enforcement of the arbitration provision in the Master Settlement Agreement
  • Represented a nursing home to secure enforcement of an arbitration provision in its admission agreement with a resident

Representative Cases

  • City of Providence v. First Citizens Bancshares, Inc., 99 A.3d 229 (Del. Ch. 2014)
  • R.H. Donnelley Inc. v. Embarq Corp., 2013 WL 4005261 (N.C. Ct. App. 2013)
  • Plasma Centers of America, LLC v. Talecris Plasma Resources, Inc., 731 S.E.2d 837 (N.C. Ct. App. 2012)
  • Ladd v. Research Triangle Institute, 335 Fed. Appx. 285 (4th Cir. 2009)
  • State of North Carolina v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., 193 N.C. App. 1, 666 S.E.2d 783 (N.C. Ct. App. 2008)
  • Dorton v. Hendrick Motorsports, Inc., 792 F. Supp. 2d 870 (M.D.N.C. 2011)
  • Manook v. Research Triangle Institute, 759 F. Supp. 2d 674 (E.D.N.C. 2010)
  • Gallagher v. Southern Source Packaging, LLC, 568 F. Supp. 2d 624 (E.D.N.C. 2008)