Adam Charnes focuses his practice on appellate, constitutional, and complex commercial litigation. Mr. Charnes has extensive experience in cases pending in federal and state courts of appeals across the nation, including the United States Supreme Court. He also has been responsible for a broad range of business litigation matters, including contract, business torts, environmental, copyright, ERISA, and other commercial litigation. He regularly represents clients in constitutional litigation. Mr. Charnes is a fellow of the prestigious American Academy of Appellate Lawyers.

Following law school, Mr. Charnes served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and to Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Prior to joining the firm, he was an associate at a Washington, D.C. law firm and then was an executive-level in-house litigator for a Fortune 500 company. From 2002 to 2003, Mr. Charnes served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy at the United States Department of Justice. At the Office of Legal Policy, he was responsible for various legal policy matters, including counter-terrorism policy and civil justice reform, and for assisting with the selection and confirmation of federal judges.

Mr. Charnes was awarded the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award in July 2003. While at Harvard Law School, he was the recipient of the Sears Prize, awarded to the three students with the top academic performance during their first year of law school. Mr. Charnes was recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® for Appellate Law, Commercial Litigation, and First Amendment Litigation in 2021 and the 13 years immediately preceding. He was also named a 2021 “Triad Lawyer of the Year” in the area of Appellate Law by The Best Lawyers in America®. Mr. Charnes has been listed in the 2016 and the nine immediately preceding editions of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in the area of General Commercial Litigation. He has been named a North Carolina "Super Lawyer" in 2020 and the eight immediately precedent years in the area of Appellate Law, and one of the top 100 lawyers in North Carolina, by Super Lawyers magazine. Mr. Charnes was named a "Litigation Star" among North Carolina attorneys and a “Fourth Circuit Litigation Star” in the 2013 edition of Benchmark Litigation. He was also named a "Litigation Star" for North Carolina in 2014, 2015 and 2016 by Benchmark Litigation. Mr. Charnes is AV® rated by Martindale-Hubbell.*

*CV, BV, and AV are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedure's standards and policies.


Represents Thryv, Inc. in briefing and argument at the U.S. Supreme Court in Thryv, Inc. v. Click to Call Techs. LP. This patent case was argued in December 2019.

Represents Ford in Wickersham v. Ford Motor Co. (4th Cir. pending). The case involves an appeal an adverse jury verdict against Ford of more than $4.5 million in a products liability case.

Represents Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals in Knight v. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (4th Cir. Pending). The case involves an appeal of a $1.25 million jury verdict in a products liability case.

Briefed and argued for four intervening Indian tribes in Brackeen v. Bernhardt, 2019 WL 3857613 (5th Cir. Aug. 9, 2019). The case involved a constitutional challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act under the due process, equal protection, and commerce clauses and the 10th amendment. After rehearing en banc was granted, the case was argued before the en banc Fifth Circuit in January 2020.

Briefed for Ford in Philips v. Ford Motor Co., 726 F. App’x 608 (9th Cir. 2018). Successfully defended the denial of class certification and summary judgment in a consumer fraud class action under California law.

Briefed and argued for RJR in Tatum v. RJR Pension Inv. Comm., 855 F.3d 553 (4th Cir. 2017). Successfully defended the district court’s judgment for defendants, after a bench trial, in a certified class action alleging breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA.

Briefed and argued for the taxpayer in Wright v. Commissioner, 809 F.3d 877 (6th Cir. 2016). Successfully overturned a decision of the U.S. Tax Court finding that an investment was an unlawful tax shelter.

Represented parties in several appeals from decisions by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board in inter partes reviews, including Softview LLC v. Kyocera Corp., 592 Fed. Appx. 947, 592 Fed. Appx. 949 (Fed. Cir. 2015), Tandus Flooring, Inc. v. Interface, Inc. (Fed. Cir., pending), and Prolitec, Inc. v. ScentAir Techs. Inc., 607 F. App’x 992 (Fed. Cir. 2015).

Briefed and argued on behalf of DuPont in Big Vision Private Ltd. v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co., 601 F. App’x 69 (2d Cir. 2015). The case involved claims of unfair competition arising joint laboratory trials.

Represented Ford Motor Co. in Ford Motor Co. v. Johnson, 473 S.W.3d 925 (Tex. Ct. App.—Dallas 2015), involving whether venue was proper in this product liability case.

Represented the taxpayer in Kearney Partners Fund, LLC v. United States, 803 F.3d 1280 (6th Cir. 2015). The case involved the application of the “economic substance” rule to certain foreign currency transactions.

Represented NCR in Astornet Technologies Inc. v. BAE Systems, Inc., 802 F.3d 1271 (Fed. Cir. 2015). The case involved whether the exclusive remedy for patent infringement by federal contractors was a suit against the United States in the Court of Federal Claims.

Briefed and argued on behalf of the defendants in Alabama v. PCI Gaming Auth., 801 F.3d 1278 (11th Cir. 2015). The case involved whether Alabama has a state or federal cause of action to challenge the legality of gaming on certain parcels of tribal lands.

Briefed and argued on behalf of R.J. Reynolds in Tatum v. RJR Pension Inv. Comm., 761 F.3d 346 (4th Cir. 2014). The case involved a class action plaintiff’s appeal of a defense verdict after a bench trial in an ERISA breach-of-fiduciary duty class action.

Briefed and argued on behalf of DuPont defending a $919 million trade secrets verdict in DuPont v. Kolon Industries, Inc., 564 Fed. Appx. 710 (4th Cir. 2014). DuPont alleged, and the jury found, that Kolon stole the trade secrets for DuPont’s Kevlar® product.

Briefed and argued on behalf of Ford Motor Co. in Conley v. Ford Motor Co., 757 S.E.2d 20 (Ga. 2014). Ford appealed a new trial order in a case where Ford prevailed at trial; the order was based on Ford’s alleged failure to disclose its insurers during discovery and voir dire.

Briefed and agued on behalf of a class of state employees in Sanders v. State Personnel Commission, 762 S.E.2d 850 (N.C. 2014). The case involved whether the North Carolina state government violated personnel regulations in the hiring of “temporary” employees for a period of more than one year.

Briefed and argued on behalf of the plaintiffs in IMT, Inc. v. City of Lumberton, 738 S.E.2d 156 (N.C. 2013). Successfully obtained a Supreme Court ruling invalidating a city’s privilege license fees under the North Carolina Constitution’s Just and Equitable Tax Clause.

Briefed and argued on behalf of Nestlé Waters North America in Eureka Water Co. v. Nestlé Waters North America, 690 F.3d 1139 (10th Cir. 2012). Successfully overturned an adverse $14 million jury verdict involving claims of breach of contract and tortious interference with contract.

Briefed and argued on behalf of a class of 500,000 individual Native Americans in Cobell v. Salazar, 679 F.3d 909 (D.C. Cir. 2012). The class action alleged that the United States breached its fiduciary duties to beneficiaries of the Individual Indian Money trust. Successfully defended a landmark $3.4 billion class settlement with the United States government in an appeal in the D.C. Circuit brought by class objectors.

Briefed and argued on behalf of Ford Motor Co. in Stark v. Ford Motor Co., 723 S.E.2d 753 (N.C. 2012). Represented Ford Motor Company in a petition for discretionary review and merits briefing in the North Carolina Supreme Court in an appeal from an adverse products liability ruling in the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court reversed the lower court ruling against Ford in an opinion establishing favorable products liability law for manufacturers.

Briefed and argued on behalf of plaintiffs in Hest Technologies, Inc. v. State ex rel. Perdue, 725 S.E.2d 10 (N.C. App. 2012), rev’d, 2012 WL 6218202 (N.C. 2012). The case involved a First Amendment challenge to a state law banning electronic sweepstakes.

Successfully represents Reynolds American Inc. in a bench trial of an ERISA class action alleging breach of fiduciary duty. The case arose from the 1999 spin-off of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. from R.J.R. Nabisco. The claims stem from the liquidation of frozen non-employer stock funds and the subsequent appreciation of those securities.

Represents Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corp. in a complex breach of contract and tortious interference with contact case arising out of the award of company franchises in the Philippines.

Briefed and argued on behalf of AT&T in Duval Wiedmann, L.L.C. v. Inforocket.com, Inc., 620 F.3d 496 (5th Cir. 2010). The case involves questions of New York contract law and federal patent law.

Briefed on behalf of one of the defendants in Nisqually Indian Tribe v. Gregoire, 623 F.3d 923 (9th Cir. 2010). The case involved questions of federal Indian law.

Co-counsel for the Tohono O’odhom Nation in United States v. Tohono O’odhom Nation, 131 S. Ct. 1723 (2011). The case involved the scope of the Court of Federal Claims’ jurisdiction.

Briefed and argued on behalf of the defendant in Olin Corp. v. P.H. Glatfelter Co., 369 Fed. App’x 430 (4th Cir. 2010). The case involved an alleged breach of an indemnification contract.

Briefed and argued on behalf of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford in Edwards v. South Carolina, 383 S.C. 82, 678 S.E.2d 412 (2009), and Sanford v. McMaster, No. 3:09-cv-01322-JFA (D.S.C.). The cases involved the constitutionality of a South Carolina statute directing the Governor to accept, over his objection, certain federal stimulus funds.

Briefed on behalf of Zino Davidoff in Zino Davidoff SA v. CVS Corp., 571 F.3d 238 (2d Cir. 2009). The case involved whether the sale of products from which production codes were removed constituted trademark infringement.

Briefed and argued on behalf of Wake Forest University’s North Carolina Baptist Hospital in North Carolina Baptist Hosp. v. Novant Health, Inc., 195 N.C. App. 721, 673 S.E.2d 794 (2009). The case involved an appeal of a preliminary injunction prohibiting a competitor from opposing a certificate of need application.

Co-counsel for DuPont in Kennedy v. Plan Administrator for DuPont Savings & Investment Plan, 129 S. Ct. 865 (2009). The case involved the impact of a divorce decree that did not qualify as a “QDRO” under ERISA.

Represented the City of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, N.C., in Blinson v. State of North Carolina, 651 S.E.2d 268 (N.C. App. 2007), appeal dismissed & petition for discr. review denied, 362 N.C. 355, 661 S.E.2d 240 (2008). The plaintiffs asserted constitutional and statutory challenges to economic development incentives given to Dell, Inc.

Argued on behalf of BellSouth in Bryan v. BellSouth Communications, Inc., 492 F.3d 231 (4th Cir. 2007). The appeal involved the propriety of a district court injunction against further litigation of a class action in state court.

Briefed and argued on behalf of Nestlé in Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation v. Nestlé Waters North America, Inc,, 479 Mich. 280, 737 N.W.2d 447 (2007), and Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation v. Nestlé Waters North America, Inc., 269 Mich. App. 25, 709 N.W.2d 174 (2005). The case involved a challenge under Michigan’s common law of groundwater, state environmental law, and the public trust doctrine to groundwater pumping by Nestlé Waters.

Briefed and argued on behalf of the Animal Legal Defense Fund in Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Woodley, 181 N.C. App. 594, 640 S.E.2d 777 (2007), appeal dismissed & petition for discr. review denied, 361 N.C. 690, 652 S.E.2d 254 (2007). The case involved the constitutionality of a statute granting broad standing to “any person” to sue for the removal of mistreated animals.

Briefed and argued on behalf of Nestlé Waters in Nestlé Waters North America, Inc. v. Bollman, 505 F.3d 498 (6th Cir. 2007). The case involved the arbitrability of a contractual dispute.

Argued on behalf of the defendants in Shepard v. Ocwen Federal Bank, 361 N.C. 137, 638 S.E.2d. 197 (2006). The case involved the statute of limitations for usury.

Briefed and argued on behalf of Lowe’s in General Elec. Co. v. Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc., 279 Ga. 77, 608 S.E.2d 636 (2005). The case involved the application of the economic loss rule under Georgia tort law.

Briefed and argued on behalf of WorldCom in Guglielmo v. WorldCom, Inc., 148 N.H. 309, 808 A.2d 65 (2002). The case involved unfair trade practices claims.


Harvard Law SchoolJ.D. (1991) magna cum laude

Princeton UniversityA.B. (1988) summa cum laude


District of Columbia (1994)

North Carolina (2003)

Texas (2014)

Court Admissions

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan (1998)


U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit - J. Harvie Wilkinson, III

U.S. Supreme Court - Anthony M. Kennedy

Professional & Community Activities

Judicial Conference of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Permanent Member

Fellow, American Academy of Appellate Lawyers

Senior Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America

Master, William “Mac” Taylor, Jr., American Inn of Court

Federal Bar Association, Middle District of North Carolina Chapter, Past President

North Carolina Bar Association, Appellate Practice Section, Member

Texas State Bar, Appellate Section, Member

Dallas Bar Association, Appellate Law Section, Member

Harvard Law Review, Past Executive Editor


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