As an entrepreneur, Robert understands and empathizes with the business owners he represents as to the many complex business and relationship issues they will face during the life cycle of their businesses—from startup to rapid growth to continuous growth to exit. He is passionate about advising privately held businesses and their owners in defining and achieving their business and personal objectives. For more than 36 years, Robert has represented business owners in:
- Buying and selling businesses
- Succession planning
- Business owner exit planning
- Estate planning
He has assisted in creating succession plans and exit plans for some of the largest privately held and family businesses in the Carolinas.
Shortly after graduating from law school, Robert co-founded the law firm of Wishart Norris (with offices in Burlington and Charlotte) and served as a managing member since inception of the firm. In addition, in 2011, he was appointed General Counsel of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, where he served on the Executive Committee.
Robert graduated Phi Beta Kappa, with honors, from Davidson College in 1972 with a B.A. in Economics. In 1976, Robert earned both an MBA and Law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also a graduate of the basic and advanced courses in negotiations and the course in mediation of the Harvard Negotiation Project of Harvard Law School.
At Davidson College, Robert was a football player who, as a sophomore, started as outside linebacker for the Wildcats on their 1969 Southern Conference Championship Team, which was Davidson's only Division I Football Team to go to the Tangerine Bowl. He was a team captain and received the Most Valuable Player Award as a senior. As Robert tells it, "Though I was small...I was also slow."
- Regularly represents Business Owners of Emerging/Growth companies in:
- Exit Planning
- Sale of Businesses to Third Parties
- Business Succession Planning
- Transfer of Businesses to Key Employees or Family Members
- Business Owner Retirement Planning
- Incentivizing Key Employees through Equity Ownership and Phantom Plans
- Risk Assessment
- Asset Protection
- Developed strategy to enable retirement of current retail business owners and entry of employees as new owners.
- Represented founders of industrial services business in transition to second generation of family owners.
- Represented $1 billion revenue company in multinational reorganization.
- Represented fourth generation of $150 million revenue family business with multiple business subsidiaries in transition to second generation of outside management and fifth generation of family owners.
- Represented third generation family owners of $100 million manufacturing and distribution business in transition from second generation of owners.
- Represented sellers of business services company, manufacturing company, packaging company, insurance agency.
- Represented buyer with $35 million revenue in acquisitions and growth through Southeastern United States.
- Assisted founders of retail business products company in transition to key employees and ultimate exist from business.
- Represented manufacturer of alloys in sale to its major customer, a publicly traded company.
- Assisted in creation and operation of energy purchasing cooperative.
- Assisted with overall financial restructuring of commercial services company.
- AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell for over 20 years
- North Carolina Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers magazine, 2006, 2008, 2010 to present
- Best Lawyers in America, 2016 - 2019
- Recipient of North Carolina Bar Association 2018 Citizen Lawyer Award
- Recipient of Hendrix Award from Davidson College - Davidson Athletic Foundation ("awarded annually to a former Davidson football letterman who has gone on to achieve outstanding success in his chosen profession"), 2007
- Recipient of the Alamance County Area Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award
- Alamance County Bar Association Community Service Award
- Received Key to the City of Burlington for Recognition of Outstanding Service to the Community
Professional and Community Affiliations
- North Carolina Bar Association, Business Law Section
- Mecklenburg County Bar Association
- General Counsel to Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, 2011
- Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, Board of Advisors
- Davidson College, past Trustee (2 terms)
- Foundation Serving Alamance County, Co-Founder
- Fellow of American Leadership Forum
- Alamance County Area Chamber of Commerce, past Chair
- Alamance Coalition Against Drug Abuse, Founder and President
- Alamance County Strategic Planning Task Force, past Chair
- Lynwood Foundation, past Director
- NPower Charlotte Region, past Director
- First Presbyterian Church, Burlington, N.C., past Deacon and Elder
|January 2007||"Protecting Your Customer Base When Key Employees Leave," Charlotte Biz Magazine|
|December 2006||"Act NOW to Retain Your Key Employees," Charlotte Biz Magazine|
|January/February 2006||"Finding the Right Lawyer for Your Growing Business," Charlotte Biz Magazine|
Events and Presentations
|2013||Presenter, "Estate Planning for Business Owners in 2013: Addressing the Six Critical Questions"|
|2012||Presenter, "The Business Owner's Pathway™ to Maximizing and Preserving Your Business and Personal Wealth," a Four Part Series, Charlotte Minority Economic Development Initiative|
|2012||Presenter, "Act NOW to Capture Huge Benefits Before the Tax Laws Change, Access Capital Growth and Prepare Your Business for Sale"|
|2012||Presenter, "Bob Businessman's Bad Day: Survival Training for Business Owners," Wake Forest Family Business Center|
|2011||Presenter, "The Business Owner's Pathway™ to Maximizing and Preserving Your Business and Personal Wealth," a Four Part Series, Charlotte Chamber of Commerce|
|2011||Presenter, "The Business Owner's Pathway™ to Maximizing and Preserving Your Business and Personal Wealth," a Four Part Series, Wake Forest Family Business Center|
|2010||Presenter, "The Business Owner's Pathway™ to Maximizing and Preserving Your Business and Personal Wealth," a Four Part Series, Elon University Love School of Business|
|2010||Presenter, "A Brief Conversation with Business Owners," Hood Hargett Breakfast Club|
- J.D., Order of the Coif, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1976
- M.B.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Beta Gama Sigma Honor Society, 1976
- B.A., cum laude, Economics, Davidson College
- Harvard Law School, Graduate of Basic and Advanced Courses in Negotiations, Course Mediation (Harvard Negotiation Project)
Bar and Court Admissions
- United States Supreme Court, 2013
- North Carolina, 1976