Nominee: John Bircher, Class of 1997
John Bircher is a partner at Davis Hartman Wright PLLC practicing in the areas of Bankruptcy, Creditors’ Rights and Commercial Litigation. In this role, he represents creditors and debtors in restructuring, workouts and bankruptcies. He also represents financial institutions in foreclosures and collection matters. Bircher is a North Carolina State Bar Certified Specialist in Business & Consumer Bankruptcy and a Chapter 7 and Chapter 12 Trustee.
Bircher’s honors and awards include Super Lawyer in the field of Business Bankruptcy and Legal Elite in the field of Bankruptcy. Bircher is a member, and currently serves as Chair, of the North Carolina State Bankruptcy Specialization Committee and Eastern North Carolina Inn of Court. He is also a member of the United States Bankruptcy Court (Eastern District) Local Rules Committee and National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees. Bircher is an active member of the North Carolina Bar Association, having served on the Board of Governors and Board of Directors, as Chair of the Bankruptcy Section and currently serving on the Bankruptcy Section Council.
Bircher earned his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He earned a Juris Doctor from Campbell University, Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law.
Q: Tell us about your extensive experience in private practice and the process of becoming a specialist in Business and Consumer Bankruptcy.
A: I started at Stubbs & Perdue in 1997 as a “District Court Lawyer” handling everything that rolled downhill — from domestic issues, personal injury, contract disputes, collection matters, DWIs, felony and misdemeanor criminal matters. Many hard lessons learned, but fantastic experience in how to treat others and be merciful and graceful with clients and counsel. Around 1999, bankruptcy was heating up and Mr. Stubbs put me in the middle of it all. I fell in love with bankruptcy law, and really put all my effort into learning the craft. It was attractive because there was always a different set of facts and circumstances in each case – normally touching every other type of law – from real estate to family, trademark to environmental law issues. Importantly, I was able to learn and practice with a bar that was as cordial and collegial as any in the state. In 2009, I realized that in order to elevate my practice, I needed to consider taking the N.C. State Bar Specialization Exam. I was petrified that I would fail and that everyone would know! I studied hard, took the exam, and passed both the Business and Consumer portions of the exam. I was pleased and excited to be a part of an elite group of fine lawyers across North Carolina that carried the designation of “Specialist.” The specialization designation has opened up a number of opportunities for me by way of out of state referrals and service opportunities with the State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. I’ve met and interacted with a number of Specialists from other areas of specialty across the state, broadening my base of colleagues and friends.
Q: How did Campbell Law School prepare you for your career?
A: Campbell gave me the advantage of practical knowledge in how the business of law works, not just theory. Campbell encouraged critical thinking, which helped develop my skills as an attorney. It prepared me for the first day of practice where I had to represent a grandparent against one of his children to sever parental rights over his child’s daughter. It was a painfully difficult situation, but I was prepared to set aside my fear and concern over the family trauma in order to present evidence, make appropriate objections and manage procedural issues because of the practical skills taught at Campbell. While I was extremely nervous, it wasn’t because I felt completely lost during the legal process. Over the years, I believe the educational experience at Campbell gave me an advantage over other graduates of different schools because of its individual instruction, its focus on North Carolina practice and on practical operation within one’s firm from day one. I definitely believe it gave me a “leg up” on practicing law with purpose.
Q: What has been your greatest professional accomplishment?
A: I think my greatest professional accomplishment was being appointed as a member of the panel of Standing Chapter 7 Trustees in 2005, and also being appointed as one of two Chapter 12 Farm Bankruptcy Trustees in the Eastern District, as well as having the confidence of our bankruptcy judges to handle complex trustee related matters and assist the court in mediating cases at their request. Generally, knowing that the bar and the bench have confidence in my abilities and knowledge of the bankruptcy code and trust my judgment in cases where I serve as Trustee and Mediator.
Q: What advice do you have for students interested in Bankruptcy, Creditors’ Rights and Commercial Litigation?
A: Pursue it – learn the statutes – understand the reasons for the various bankruptcy code and UCC sections and how those sections serve the overall purpose of the bankruptcy system. Also, learn all you can about the credit industry, how the UCC and FDCPA and other federal statutes and regulations work together to keep our economy moving forward.
Q: What does Campbell University’s motto “leading with purpose” mean to you?
A: I think it would be difficult to simply “lead” with no “purpose” behind one’s attempts at leading any group of people in any phase of life. Effective leadership requires purposeful action. There has to be a plan, an agenda to inspire others to take your lead and perform in a way that is beneficial to everyone involved. Campbell Law, since its inception, has a clear purpose – to create and mold effective lawyers/community leaders with practical knowledge to immediately make an impact all across North Carolina. Since the 1970s, the school has flourished, making a major impact across our state, in communities large and small.
Want to nominate a Campbell Law Alumna/Alumnus to be featured in a 45th anniversary spotlight?
If you would like to nominate a fellow alumnus/na who is living the university’s motto “leading with purpose,” please contact Lisa Snedeker at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.