Attorney - Stephen W.  Coles


Stephen W. Coles
Of Counsel
HBS Charlotte Office

P: 980.859.0380
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Steve Coles is a litigator, and spends more time in court than out of it.  He has been lead counsel in over 200 medical-related matters. He has represented assisted living facilities, physicians, hospitals, nurses and manufacturers in cases involving pharmaceuticals, medical devices, transplants, bone marrow harvesting, contracts, medical staff issues, informed consent, mental health commitment, peer review, ethics and other matters.

Additionally, he has an active professional liability and insurance defense practice.  He has defended physicians practicing in all the major specialties and has tried over 100 jury trials primarily in the fields of medical injury, general insurance defense, commercial disputes, product defects, premises liability, insurance coverage, contracts, employment, workers' compensation,  eminent domain, will caveats, construction and personal injury.  He has represented professionals before the North Carolina Medical Board, North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners, North Carolina Real Estate Commission and the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board.  Steve has argued 28 cases before the North Carolina Court of Appeals and 11 cases before the North Carolina Supreme Court.  He has appeared in 62 of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

In addition to hundreds of depositions of parties in lawsuits, Steve has conducted over 500 depositions of experts involving topics such as insurance coverage, bad faith, unfair and deceptive trade practices, banking, economics, accounting, real estate appraisal, life care plans, construction, accident reconstruction, trucking, manufacturing, ballistics, poisons, handwriting analysis, asbestos, product analysis, biomechanics, genetics, arson, employment issues, security and premises upkeep, architecture, boating safety, electrical engineering, power company rules and regulations, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, medical equipment, long term care facilities, orthopedic surgery, neurology, neurosurgery, general surgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, urology, nephrology, plastic surgery, otolaryngology (ear, nose & throat), obstetrics-gynecology, internal medicine, primary care, rheumatology, addiction, pain management, cardiology, vascular surgery, psychiatry, psychology, cardiac surgery, thoracic surgery, bariatrics, allergy and immunology, oncology, dentistry, pathology, pediatrics, endocrinology, critical care, infectious disease, hospitalist care, gastroenterology, hematology, geriatrics and sleep medicine.

Steve, who has more than 35 years of experience in insurance, business and commercial litigation, has been listed in Best Lawyers in America for civil litigation since 1999 and has been rated a North Carolina “Super Lawyer” in commercial litigation and personal injury - defendants since its inception in 2006.  He has also been named in Business North Carolina Magazine’s “Legal Elite” for civil litigation.

Steve served as Davidson County and Lexington City School Board attorney for over twenty years, and has advised public school boards of education, private educational institutions, and public and private colleges and universities.  He has litigated in state, federal and appellate courts for those clients.  As outside counsel, he served as the interim County Attorney for Guilford County, performed an assessment study and assisted in the hiring of full-time in-house counsel.  His work in education and county government has included merger of school boards, policy generation, funding disputes, student conduct issues, student assignment, teacher tenure and dismissal, law enforcement and public safety issues, general employment, construction and public contracting, premises liability, general liability and First Amendment issues.  He has also been involved in advising municipal and county development entities.

He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Wake Forest University. Steve stays active in the legal community through serving with the North Carolina Bar Association, the North Carolina Association of Defense attorneys and was former President of Carolina Legal Services, Inc.

Before joining Hall Booth Smith, he was a member of Nexsen Pruet in its Greensboro and Charlotte offices from 2007 until 2016 when he decided to start his own law firm, The Coles Law Firm. He was also a partner in Brinkley Walser in Lexington, NC from 1980-2007.

Practice Areas



Wake Forest University School of Law, J.D., 1980
Wake Forest University, B.A., cum laude, 1977


North Carolina
U.S. District Court, Western, Middle and Eastern Districts of NC
U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit
U. S. Supreme Court


North Carolina “Super Lawyer” in commercial litigation and personal injury-defendant, 2006 (inception) - present
Business North Carolina's “Legal Elite” for civil litigation
The Best Lawyers in America©, 1999 - present


Co-chair of the NC Bar Association Tort Issues Task Force
Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel
North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys
Defense Research and Trial Lawyers Association
North Carolina Bar Association
Medico-Legal Liaison Committee 
National School Boards Association Council of School Attorneys
North Carolina School Board Attorney Association
North Carolina Bar Candidate Review Committee, 1985-2007
North Carolina Museum of Art, Past Director
Wake Forest Alumni Association, Past President
Wake Forest University Athletic Board, Past Member
Brenner’s Children’s Hospital Advisory Board, Past Chair, 2006-2014
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center Board of Visitors, 2012-2014
Mecklenburg Bar Association 
Cabarrus, Davidson, Guilford County Bar Associations; former member