Morningstar Law Group – Raleigh Law Firm – Durham NC Attorneys

Bill Brian has spent his thirty year career focusing on zoning and land use law, disputes between private parties and state and local governments, and disputes involving real estate, including land condemnation actions. He is an authority on quasi-judicial procedure who has been recognized as a leading lawyer by Best Lawyers, NC Super Lawyers and Chambers USA.

Bill and his wife, Leigh, live in Durham County and have one son, Keegan, who lives with his wife, Grace, in Roanoke, Virginia.


What's the best piece of advice you have ever received?
A horrible ending is better than an unending horror.

Accolades

  • Best Lawyers: Lawyer of the Year – Litigation – Land Use and Zoning (2017)
  • Best Lawyers: Lawyer of the Year – Land Use and Zoning Law (2013)
  • Best Lawyers: Land Use and Zoning Law (2009-2019), Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law (2009-2019), Litigation – Land Use and Zoning (2009-2019), Litigation – Real Estate (2009-2019)
  • Chambers USA: Real Estate – Zoning/Land Use (2007-2019)
  • Martindale-Hubbell: Peer Rating  AV Preeminent®
  • Martindale-Hubbell: Judicial Rating – AV Preeminent®
  • North Carolina Lawyer’s Weekly: Leaders in the Law Award (2014)
  • Super Lawyers (2016-2019)

Representative Experience

  • Obtains special use permits, variances and other forms of quasi-judicial approval for development projects
  • Represents developers in disputes with local governments over entitlements, zoning interpretations, and other issues
  • Represents developers against legal challenges filed by environmental and neighborhood groups
  • Represents private parties in eminent domain actions with state and local governments
  • Represents landlords in lease disputes and lawsuits with tenants
  • Represents general contractors and other professionals in disputes with state licensing boards, including the N.C. Real Estate Commission and N.C. Licensing Board for General Contractors

Presentations & Publications

  • “Commercial Land Use and Zoning Law – Vested Rights” National Business Institute (2017)
  • “The Practical Side of Litigating Cases Before the Zoning Board of Adjustment” North Carolina Bar Association 2013 Zoning, Planning & Land Use Section Annual Meeting (2013)
  • “Successes in Redeveloping Coastal Industrial Sites.” National Brownfields Conference (2011)
  • “Your Land Is Our Land: Public Claims to Private Beach Property in North Carolina.” K&L Gates NC Coastal Land Use Newsletter (2011)
  • “Defining the Breadth of the Public Trust Doctrine in North Carolina: A Conversation with Professor Joseph Kalo,” co-authored with Megan Lambert. K&L Gates NC Coastal Land Use Newsletter (2011)
  • “Durham Considers Allowing Development Agreements,” co-authored with Patrick Byker and Craigie Sanders. K&L Gates Triangle Land Use Newsletter (2011)
  • “Triangle-Area Local Government Opt-Out Roundup,” co-authored with Michael Birch and James Joyce. K&L Gates Triangle Land Use Newsletter (2011)
  • “Charlotte Area Local Governments Consider Opting Out of Permit Extension, co-authored with Collin Brown, Michael Birch, and James Joyce. K&L Gates Charlotte Real Estate Land Use, Planning and Zoning Alert (2010)
  • “Triangle-Area Local Governments Consider Opting Out of Permit Extension,” co-authored with Michael Birch and James Joyce. K&L Gates Real Estate Land Use, Planning and Zoning Alert (2010)
  • “General Assembly Extends Tolling Period,” co-authored with Michael Birch and James Joyce. K&L Gates Real Estate Land Use, Planning and Zoning Alert (2010)
  • “Going…Going…Gone! Why Time is of the Essence in Preserving the Value of Development Entitlements in Distressed Real Estate Assets.” K&L Gates Real Estate Alert (2010)
  • “The Practical Side of Litigating Cases Before the Zoning Board of Adjustment,” North Carolina Bar Association Land Use Section Annual Meeting (2009)
  • “Keeping Abreast of the Changes in Durham.” K&L Gates Triangle Land Use Newsletter (2009)
  • “City of Durham’s Stormwater Regulations Create Difficult Obstacles for New Development – ability to stimulate investment and job creation may be impaired,” co-authored with Patrick Byker and Craigie Sanders. K&L Gates Triangle Land Use Newsletter (2009)
  • “Bull City’s New Manager Makes Changes,” co-authored with Craigie Sanders. K&L Gates Triangle Land Use Newsletter (2009)
  • “Off-Site Improvements: So Easy to Promise, So Hard to Produce,” co-authored with Eric Braun. NC Bar Association: Zoning & Land Use Newsletter (2008)
  • “Streamlined development review needed,” co-authored with Patrick Byker. The Herald-Sun (2008)
  • “Beach erosion is a pricey crisis.” Greater Wilmington Business Journal (2008)
  • “Moving from Voluntary to Mandatory? The Evolving ‘Green’ Building Trend,” co-authored with Charlotte Mitchell and Eric Braun. Triangle Business Journal (2008)
  • “Development agreements: New tools for an old problem,” co-authored with Eric Braun. Greater Wilmington Business (2006)
  • “The Reincarnation of Dillion’s Rule.” NC Bar Association: Zoning & Land Use Newsletter (2006)
  • “Time for developers, local government to work together,” co-authored with Eric Braun. Triangle Business Journal (2006)
  • “Supreme Court navigating Clean Water Act legal quagmire,” co-authored with Eric Braun. Triangle Business Journal (2006)
  • “Why Another Section? The Purpose of the Zoning, Planning and Land Use Section of the North Carolina Bar Association.” NC Bar Association Zoning, Planning and Land Use Newsletter (2005)
  • “Attorneys See New Landscape with Development Agreements,” co-authored with Jason Barron, Eric Braun and Craigie Sanders. Triangle Business Journal (2005)
  • “Master Plans Put Limits on Developers, Not Governments.” The Triangle Business Journal (2004)
  • “Practical Guide to Zoning and Land Use Law in North Carolina.” National Business Institute, Inc. (2004)
  • “Smart Growth Needs to Consider African-American View.”  Triangle Business Journal (2004)
  • “Large-home-on-a-large-lot Status Symbol Spreads Sprawl.” Triangle Business Journal (2003)
  • “Lack of Regional Planning Can Lead to Urban Sprawl.” Triangle Business Journal (2003)
  • “Public Relations Often a Key in Winning Project Approval.” Triangle Business Journal (2003)
  • “Regulatory Smart Aid Project Success.” Triangle Business Journal (2003)
  • “Court ends environmental overreaching.” Charlotte Business Journal (2001)
  • “Migratory Birds May Foul Plans.” Charlotte Business Journal and Triad Business Journal (2000)
  • “Regulatory Takings in the Context of Wetlands: The Protection of Private Property Rights.” NC Agribusiness Law, Campbell University School of Law (1995, 1996)
  • “Refugees and International Law,” co-authored with A. Kenneth Pye. The Cultural Basis of Afghan Nationalism (Pinter Press, 1990) Ewan Anderson and Nancy Hatch Dupree, editors
  • “Land Use in North Carolina.” Co-Chair, Law Seminars International CLE (2008)
  • “Mud, Sludge and Traffic Counts: Taking Zoning and Land Use Advocacy to the Next Level.” NC Bar Foundation Land Use Planning and Zoning Update, CLE Program (2005)
  • “The Problem of Multijurisdictionalism.” NC Chapter of the American Planning Association (2003)
  • “Real Property Litigation.” Real Property 2002, 1999 and 1995, Wake Forest University School of Law, Continuing Legal Education Program
  • “Litigating Cases Before the Zoning Board of Adjustment.” Quasi-Judicial Proceedings, NC Bar Foundation, Continuing Legal Education Program (2001)
  • “Restrictive Covenants and Related Issues.” Real Property 2000, Wake Forest University School of Law, Continuing Legal Education Program (2000)
  • “Unwritten Title Transfers,” “Resolution of Boundary Disputes,” and “Ethics – It’s Legal But Is It Right?” Boundary Law in North Carolina, National Business Institute, Inc. (1996, 1997)

Education

  • Duke University, J.D. (1989) with high honors
    Notes and Research Editor, Law and Contemporary Problems
    Order of the Coif
    United States Law Week Award
  • George Washington University, M.A., International Relations (1987)
  • Washington University, A.B. (1984) cum laude
    Phi Alpha Theta – International History Honor Society

Admissions

  • North Carolina State Bar (1989)
  • US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina (1989)
  • US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina (1995)
  • US District Court for the Western District of North Carolina (1995)
  • US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (2006)

Professional

  • Carolina Theatre: Board of Trustees (2018-present), Chair (2019-2020)
  • Durham County Board of Elections: Chairman (2015-2018), Secretary (2011-2015)
  • Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce: Board of Directors (2006-2016)
    • Chairman of the Board (2015)
    • Executive Committee (2006-2016)
    • Public Policy Committee, Chairman and Member (1992-2016)
    • Local Government Committee, Chairman and Member (1990-1992)
    • Leadership Durham Program Graduate (1992)
  • Durham City/County Zoning Board of Adjustment: Chairman and Member (1995-2009)
  • Triangle Land Conservancy: Board of Directors (2005-2009), Conservation Strategies Committee Member (2011-2014)
  • NC Bar Association: Chairman (2007-2008), Zoning, Planning and Land Use Section
  • Friends of Durham Political Action Committee: Member of the Executive Committee (1997-2018), Chairman (1998-2000)
  • Duke-Durham Campaign: Fundraising Committee Member (2008)
  • City of Durham Citizens Capital Improvement Panel (2004-2006)
  • Durham City/County Planning Department: 2020 Comprehensive Plan Reformatting Committee (1994), “Redirecting Land Use” Strategic Issue Group Member