Jim Cooley
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Jim Cooley

Jim Cooley retired from Womble Bond Dickinson on December 31, 2023, after 50 years of law practice and continues to mediate fulltime with Miles Mediation & Arbitration in North Carolina and other states. He focused on resolving complex business disputes since joining Womble Bond Dickinson (formerly Womble Carlyle) in 1985. In addition to his many years of litigation experience, including over 50 jury trials, Jim brings a keen understanding of alternate dispute resolution techniques to his clients’ problems. He served on the North Carolina Bar Association’s Committee (now section) which designed and implemented North Carolina’s court-annexed dispute resolution process, and he served on the Council of the Dispute Resolution Section of the NC Bar Association in 2022-2023. In that role he led the section’s initiative, “Beyond Court-Ordered Mediation,” resulting in the formation of several task forces aimed at exploring new dispute resolution approaches for the 21st century. He has actively participated in the work of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution, studying dispute resolution in the construction and financial services industries. Jim has represented clients in hundreds of mediations and arbitrations and is now certified as a mediator in North Carolina, specializing in complex business disputes and class actions.

In recent years, Jim’s practice centered on the representation of financial institutions in a broad range of matters arising out of the 2008 financial crisis. He frequently represented clients in class actions and multidistrict litigation of antitrust, unfair competition, wage and hour and securities fraud claims, numerous corporate and partnership control disputes representing both majority and minority interests, commercial contract disputes for a wide variety of business clients in the United States and abroad and conducting internal corporate investigations. Jim’s interest in constitutional rights litigation continues, primarily on behalf of local governmental bodies in the education context.

Jim was a senior partner in the Charlotte office and a member of Womble Bond Dickinson’s 40-lawyer Financial Services Litigation Team. He was the practice group leader of the firm’s Business Litigation Practice Group from 1996-1998 and again from 2006-2012, and he headed the Financial Services Litigation Team from 2013-2018. He served on the firm’s Management Committee for many years, and was awarded the Sandridge Award for service to the firm as well as the Grady Barnhill Award for litigation.


  • J.D., 1973, University of North Carolina School of Law
    • Member, Associate Justice, Holderness Moot Court
    • Member, National Moot Court Team
    • North Carolina Law Review
    • Union Theological Seminary (N.Y.), 1969-70, Rockefeller Brothers Fellow
  • B.A., 1969, Davidson College
    • cum laude
    • Phi Beta Kappa
    • McConnell Scholar

Admitted to Practice

  • All NC State Court, 08/19/1973
  • S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, 08/01/1974
  • S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, 04/30/1976
  • S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina,10/30/1973
  • S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 06/19/1974
  • S. Supreme Court, 01/21/1997

Professional or Trade Affiliations

  • Senior Partner, Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP (formerly Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP) (Charlotte), 1985-2023
    • Firm Management Committee, 1990-1998; 2006-2008
    • Practice Group Leader, Business Litigation, 1996-1998, 2006-2012)
  • Partner, Pfefferkorn Cooley Pishko & Elliot (Winston-Salem, NC), 1976-84
  • Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellow (Winston-Salem, NC), 1974-76
  • Judicial Clerk, Judge J. Braxton Craven, Jr., United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 1973-74
  • Mecklenburg County Bar Association
  • North Carolina Bar Association
    • Member, Dispute Resolution Section Council, 2016 – present; chair, 2022-2023, immediate past chair, 2023-2024
    • Litigation Section and Senior Lawyer Division
    • Chair, Large Law Firm Committee, 1997-1998
    • Chair, Committee on Task Force Organization, 2023 – present
  • Member, Select Drafting Committee of the N.C. Board of Bar Examiners, 1986-1993
  • Member, International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution

Honors and Awards

  • Chambers USA Ranked Lawyer, Litigation: General Commercial, North Carolina, 2006 – present
  • Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America in the fields of Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Litigation – Banking and Finance, Litigation – Mergers and Acquisitions, Litigation – Real Estate, Litigation – Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy), 2005 – present
  • Received the Best Lawyers® “Lawyer of the Year” award in the fields of Litigation – Real Estate (Charlotte), 2016, 2020; Litigation – Mergers and Acquisitions (Charlotte), 2018, 2022
  • Recognized by North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society for pro bono work, 2021-2023
  • Super Lawyers Honoree in Business Litigation, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Antitrust Litigation, Securities Litigation, North Carolina Super Lawyers magazine (Thomson Reuters) 2006  – 2019
  • BTI Consulting, Client Service All-Start (2017)
  • Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (AV rating)
  • Pen Sandridge Award for Service to the Firm (Womble Carlyle)
  • “The Grady”: the Grady Barnhill Award for Outstanding Performance as a Litigator