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800 East Boulevard, Suite 100, P.O. Box 36098, Charlotte, North Carolina 28203-5467
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William C. Robinson

Managing Partner


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Charlotte attorney Shel Robinson is an active trial lawyer with over almost twenty-five years of civil litigation experience in the state and federal courts of North Carolina.  He has tried over 400 jury trials, representing both individuals and businesses in disputes involving motor vehicle accidents, personal injuries, contracts, business torts, malpractice, commercial and residential real estate, insurance coverage and financial services, among others.

Shel focuses his practice on providing strategic advocacy coupled with hands-on trial experience to guide clients through the rigors of the court system.  Like every attorney at Robinson Elliott & Smith, Shel’s experience is not narrowly tailored or limited to a specific area of the law such as corporate disputes or real estate transactions. Rather, Shel combines his wide range of knowledge of these, and other areas of the law, with his unmatched trial court and practical litigation experience to assist clients often facing serious or catastrophic circumstances navigate the complexities of the court system, and obtain results through either dispute resolution or trial to verdict.  While many attorneys who have a civil litigation or trial practice may rarely see the inside of a courtroom, Shel is a “regular” in the courts of this state, and has tried cases in front of a majority of its judges and against many of the state’s top trial lawyers.

  • Personal Injury Litigation. Shel represents both plaintiffs (i.e. persons suing) and defendants (i.e. persons/entities being sued) in virtually every kind of personal injury case.  He defends some of the country’s largest insurers and their insureds in cases involving wrongful death and catastrophic injury arising out of construction accidents, car and truck accidents, defective products, malpractice, and slip and falls, among others.  Shel also regularly represents individuals who have been injured and suffered damages, and that face difficult cases against powerful corporate defendants.
  • Business Disputes and Commercial Litigation. Shel represents all manner of businesses from large national companies to small local start-ups and business owners in cases involving, among other things, business valuation, shareholder and corporate control, contract disputes, business torts and unfair and deceptive trade practices.  Shel frequently handles complex business litigation pending in the North Carolina Business Court.  Additionally, while Robinson Elliott & Smith does not draft wills or estate documents, the firm and Shel regularly work with estate attorneys to assist their clients in the event a will or trust is challenged in court and requires the attention of a skilled litigator.
  • Real Estate Litigation. Robinson Elliott & Smith does not close loans or handle real estate closings, however, the firm and Shel are frequently retained by or referred by prominent corporate and real estate law firms to represent their special clients that have difficult trial issues.  In this context, Shel regularly represents developers, contractors, subcontractors and investors in litigation involving deals, disputes over leases, contracts, liens, shareholder disputes and construction accidents.
  • Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith Litigation. Shel represents national insurance companies in both the trial and appellate courts on issues critical to the insurance industry in North Carolina.  For example, he represented a national insurance company in statewide litigation, and at the North Carolina Court of Appeals, over the use of selection/rejection forms, and were instrumental in the development of the body of law that governs the award of underinsured motorist benefits.

Shel was born and raised in Charlotte and is a proud product of its public schools.  He attended Davidson College, where he was active in service, fraternity and varsity athletics.  He obtained his law degree from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1990.  Shel was sworn-in as an attorney on his twenty-fifth birthday which was the twenty-fifth anniversary of his father’s, Judge William G. “Bill” Robinson, swearing in as a new attorney (upon Shel’s birth, his father asked the Court to swear him in so that he could support his first child).  Shel began to practice with one of the state’s preeminent civil defense firms.  In 1999, Shel founded a new firm which eventually became Robinson Elliott & Smith, where he continues to actively appear in court and practice with colleagues that share his love of trial practice and service to clients.


  • Represented developer of multi-family housing and mixed-use projects in the jury trial of commercial real estate dispute arising out of the defendant-seller’s breach of purchase agreement and unlawful retention of earnest money. After initially prevailing on summary judgment on client’s claims for breach of contract, conversion and unfair and deceptive trade practices, obtained mid-trial settlement for all money owed plus fees.
  • Represented commercial landlord in real estate dispute and obtained jury verdict against tenant for breach of the lease agreement while successfully defending landlord against tenant’s claims of breach of contract and racial discrimination. Case tried to jury verdict in the Mecklenburg County Superior Court.
  • Obtained verdict in favor of defendant, a national provider of home healthcare products and services, successfully defending against a wrongful death suit asserting products liability and medical malpractice claims arising out of client’s alleged misuse of ventilator equipment. Case tried to jury verdict in the Caldwell County Superior Court.  Achieved dismissal of plaintiff’s subsequent appeal.
  • Represented start-up title insurance agency in business dispute with former national underwriting company. Obtained multi-million dollar jury verdict in favor of client on breach of contract and business tort claims.  Achieved favorable confidential settlement of all claims post-trial.
  • Represented interests of two member-managers of LLC engaged in the self-storage business in defense of claims including breach of fiduciary duties, breach of contract, fraud, misrepresentation, and violation of North Carolina’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, among others, and prosecution of similar cross and counterclaims in this multi-party litigation arising out of default on a commercial loan and circumstances surrounding the subsequent foreclosure of the property and enforcement of guaranty agreements. Case was tried for four weeks in the North Carolina Business Court – Charlotte Division, to jury verdict.
  • Obtained jury verdict in favor of defense against plaintiff who alleged that toxic poisoning as a result of pest control lead to catastrophic personal injury.
  • Pack Bros. Paint & Body Shop v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. (Case no. 01-CVS-805, NCBC) and Jetty Tuttle Body Shop, Inc. v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. (Case no. 02-CVS-875, NCBC) Successfully defended national insurer in the North Carolina Business Court against two suits filed by independent body shops claiming that the carriers illegally utilized aftermarket parts and steered customers. Other claims included interference with contract, business torts and unfair and deceptive trade practices.  Cases were each tried to jury verdict in the insurer’s favor.
  • Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Burgdoff, 698 S.E.2d 500 (N.C. Ct. App. 2010); Nationwide Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Martinson, 701 S.E.2d 390 (N.C. Ct. App. 2010); Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Caudill, 2010 N.C. App. LEXIS 2301 (N.C. Ct. App. 2010); Estate of Hart v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 2011 N.C. App. LEXIS 216 (N.C. Ct. App. 2011); Blanton v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 291 N.C. App. LEXIS 242 (N.C. Ct. App. 2011); Smithey v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 2009 N.C. App. LEXIS 1506 (N.C. Ct. App. 2009); Mintz v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 750 S.E.2d 917 (N.C. Ct. App. 2013) Represented national insurance carrier at the trial and appellate courts in series of lawsuits which successfully redefined and narrowed the circumstances under which North Carolina courts will award the statutory maximum of $1 million in UM/UIM coverage pursuant to the NC Motor Vehicle Safety & Financial Responsibility Act (now revised).
  • Estate of Furr v. City of Charlotte, 739 S.E.2d 627 (N.C. Ct. App. 2013) Represented family of deceased telecommunications worker alleging wrongful death arising out of police shooting.  The Court of Appeals affirmed denial of Summary Judgment for the city, and client subsequently obtained what was at the time, the largest settlement payout from the City of Charlotte for police misuse of force.
  • Strategic Outsourcing, Inc. v. A.G. Warehouse & Packing, Inc., 693 S.E.2d 374 (N.C. Ct. App. 2010) represented PEO against produce company seeking damages for breach of service agreement and indemnification; matter was resolved prior to issuance of an opinion, however, the withdrawn opinion illustrates PEO’s success on these claims.
  • Andrews v. Land, 736 S.E.2d 649 (N.C. Ct. App. 2013) Successfully defended property owner at the trial and appellate courts against claims for unlawful use of property, implicating land usage and Second Amendment issues.
  • Haugh v. Nationwide Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 2014 N.C. App. LEXIS 534 (N.C. Ct. App. 2014) Successfully defended national insurance carrier in bench trial and on appeal of insurance coverage dispute; successful defense of UIM claim pursuant to “Other Insurance” clause.
  • Criswell v. Wheatley, 2013 N.C. App. LEXIS 206 (N.C. Ct. App. 2013) Successfully defended insured driver at trial and on appeal involving motor vehicle negligence and application of the collateral source rule.
  • Burgess v. Dorton, 2014 N.C. App. LEXIS 12 (N.C. Ct. App. 2014) Successfully defended insured driver at trial and on appeal involving applicability of last clear chance instruction at trial.

*The select cases discussed above are illustrative of the matters handled by the lawyer or law firm.  Case results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case, and prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome in any future legal representation. 


  • Recipient of Martindale-Hubbell top (“AV Preeminent”) Peer Review Rating*
  • Listed in Business North Carolina’s Legal Elite, Litigation, 2008, 2010 and 2013

*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.  AV is the highest rating.


  • Speaker, Jury Selection Seminar: Watch. Practice.  And Learn, NC Advocates for Justice, 2014
  • Speaker, Recent Changes Impacting State Court Practice, Mecklenburg County Bar, 2011


  • North Carolina State Bar
  • United States District Court, Western District of North Carolina
  • United States District Court, Middle District of North Carolina
  • United States District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina
  • United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit