Cranfill Sumner LLP (CSH Law) today announced that Steven Bader, Paul Gessner, Charles Hicks, Q. Shanté Martin and Nick Valaoras have received AV® Ratings from Martindale-Hubbell.

The Martindale-Hubbell AV® Rating is a peer review rating system designed to reflect an attorney’s ethical standards and professional ability.  It surveys attorney colleagues across multiple geographic locations and jurisdictions. Attorneys are rated using five key areas including Legal Knowledge, Analytical Capabilities, Judgment, Communication Ability and Legal Experience.

Steven Bader is Of Counsel in the Raleigh office of CSH Law and head of the firm’s appellate practice. He has authored briefs, motions, and petitions to the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the North Carolina Supreme Court, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. He advises insurers on coverage issues, including business interruption claims stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting government shut-down orders. He also maintains an active litigation practice, defending general casualty matters such as wrongful death suits, personal injury claims, and construction defect allegations.

Paul Gessner is Of Counsel at the Raleigh office of CSH Law representing individuals, businesses and governmental agencies in litigation. He has nearly two decades of service and experience as a trial judge in North Carolina district and superior courts where he presided over a wide variety of civil and criminal matters including medical malpractice, product liability, construction disputes, and capital cases. In addition to his time on the bench, he served as an assistant district attorney and in-house legal advisor at the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, where he provided advice and training to law enforcement and detention administrators and officers. Prior to law school, he served as a Raleigh Police Officer.

Charles L. Hicks, III is an associate attorney in the Raleigh Office of CSH Law, where he practices in the Workers’ Compensation Defense Group. He has defended hundreds of workers’ compensation claims, through all phases of the North Carolina workers’ compensation process.  Charles has substantial experience investigating and analyzing cases, mediating claims to a successful resolution, conducting depositions, and crafting pleadings and briefs.  He has served as first chair attorney in dozens of hearings in administrative forums, full evidentiary Hearings, and in appeals before panels of Commissioners. He was recently named among the Best Lawyers in America: Ones to Watch 2021 in the fields of Workers’ Compensation Defense and Construction law.

Shanté Martin has spent nearly 20 years committed to representing and advising educational institutions across the secondary to post-secondary spectrum on a wide-range of legal issues. She has expertise in areas of employment, Title VII, the First Amendment, board governance, Title IX, open meetings, public records, policy drafting and editing, grievance hearings, student disciplinary hearings, investigations, and professional development training for education leaders.

Nick Valaoras is a partner in the firm’s Charlotte office where he has been practicing since 1993.  His practice is focused exclusively on workers’ compensation defense representing employers and insurance carriers.  He is also a Board-Certified mediator in workers’ compensation cases.  He has represented employers and workers’ compensation insurance carriers in evidentiary and appellate hearings before the North Carolina Industrial Commission, North Carolina Court of Appeals and North Carolina Supreme Court.