The History of CBLW
Craige Brawley Liipfert & Walker LLP was founded in 1832 and is the oldest law firm in North Carolina. Burton Craige opened his law office in Salisbury, North Carolina, in 1832. In the tradition of the time, he was very active in government affairs, and he served four terms in the U.S. Congress until he resigned in 1861. After the war, he continued his law practice until his death in 1875.
His son, Kerr Craige, joined his father’s law practice in the late 1860′s. His sons, Kerr Craige, Jr. and the second Burton Craige, later joined the firm. After 10 years with the firm, Burton Craige moved to Winston-Salem in 1911 to become counsel for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. In 1917 he rejoined his brother in the private practice of law. The firm maintained offices in both Salisbury and Winston-Salem under the name of Craige & Craige from 1917 to 1959, when the firm’s Salisbury office was closed, leaving the Winston-Salem office as the surviving office. The firm’s name was also changed when the two new attorneys became partners.
Prior to World War II, Burton Craige was joined in the Winston-Salem office by his son and nephew, Archibald Craige and Robert V. Brawley, both of whom served in the military during the war. Burton Craige died in 1945 and both his son and nephew returned from military service and rejoined the Winston-Salem office of Craige & Craige. Archibald Craige retired from the firm in 1964 and Robert V. Brawley continued to practice law until 1980, when a stroke forced him to withdraw from active practice.
The most senior partner with the firm is Cowles Liipfert, who joined the firm in 1964. Other partners include William W. Walker, who joined in 1980, John A. Keiger (1996), Brent W. Stephens (1998), H. David Niblock (2005), Aimee L. Smith (2002), Rebecca L. Smitherman (2003), Susan J. Ryan (2005) and Julian P. Robb (2005). The firm currently has one associate attorney, Amanda H. Creamer.
The firm emphasizes continuing legal education for its attorneys, four of whom are certified specialists in their respective areas of practice. Cowles Liipfert and John Keiger are Board Certified Specialists in Estate Planning and Probate Law in North Carolina and Brent W. Stephens is a Board Certified Specialist in Elder Law. Stephens has also earned the designation of Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. H. David Niblock is a Domestic Relations Certified Mediator.
The law firm is listed as among the pre-eminent law firms in North Carolina by several selective registries, such as The Law List and The Bar Registry, the latter of which is published by the Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directory.