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Russell B. Killen

Raleigh | 919.890.4151
Fax | 919.835.4547

Russell Killen has approximately 30 years of experience advising clients on their construction, real estate, and land use needs. He counsels clients through the complete life cycle of development, from entitlement through construction and the final resolution of any disputes.

Russell's clients include a global life sciences company, a leading national homebuilder, international manufacturers, regional hospital systems, universities, municipalities, and renewable energy developers. Clients have praised his ability to find practical solutions that keep their businesses moving forward. 

Russell negotiates and drafts construction contracts for clients throughout the country and internationally. His experience includes engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contracts, design-build contracts, and multiyear, multiphase projects. His focus on developing and implementing proactive solutions for each project helps his clients avoid many of the customary pitfalls in construction projects.

Russell also represents clients in homebuilding, life sciences, and other industries on the full range of their real estate needs. He advises on project acquisition, development agreements, zoning and land use, construction, leasing, and dispute resolution, including class action litigation. He has resolved disputes involving scheduling and delay claims, construction defect claims, retaining wall and foundation failures, mold and indoor air quality claims, lien claims, and payment disputes.

Finally, his extensive experience and contacts in the municipal arena provide his clients a unique perspective in connection with land use and zoning, where he regularly represents developers, homebuilders, municipalities, and other clients. His municipal background also informs his approach to development agreements, which he has deep experience negotiating. 

Russell served as mayor of the Town of Knightdale from 2007 to 2015 and was president of the Wake County Mayors Association in 2011 and 2015. He served as an interim member of the Knightdale Town Council in 2019 and previously served as a councilor from 2003 to 2007.

Representative Experience

Contract Negotiation

  • Drafted and negotiated design, construction, and ancillary agreements for construction of a new North American headquarters for an international automotive manufacturer.
  • Negotiated contracts and oversaw legal aspects of construction for multiple new wastewater treatment plants and related projects.
  • Drafted and negotiated a significant number of development agreements between developers and municipalities.  
  • Drafted and negotiated design and construction contracts for hospital system's multiyear, multiphase campus expansion program, including construction of new patient towers.
  • Negotiated development and construction contracts on behalf of a university for its campus housing expansion projects.
  • Drafted contracts and negotiated the owner-controlled insurance program for the construction of a new $150 million manufacturing facility on behalf of an international pharmaceutical client.
  • Drafted EPC contract for international textile manufacturer's major expansion of an existing facility in western North Carolina.
  • Prepared and negotiated contracts for design and construction related to development of international resort property.

Dispute Resolution

  • Successfully defended national homebuilder in a series of construction defect/environmental contamination lawsuits and attempted class certification of the lawsuits.
  • Represented owner/developer in separate arbitration, state court, and federal court proceedings regarding the development of a luxury home community with more than $150 million in infrastructure.
  • Successfully defended a national engineering firm against multimillion-dollar claim alleging design defects and delays arising out of the design and construction of drilled shafts on an interstate highway project.
  • Prosecuted general contractor's $4 million claim against product manufacturer, architectural firm and subcontractors regarding the design and construction of the roofing system for the facility.
  • Prosecuted claims on behalf of a health care system regarding major delays in the design, construction, and permitting of a new central energy plant.

Land Use & Entitlement

  • Served as counsel for developer on rezoning and entitlement of 100-acre tract in Cary, North Carolina, for retail, office and residential development, involving coordination with State Property Office, negotiating provisions for zoning overlay district, and collaboration with town council and adjacent property owners.
  • Represented commercial developer on build-out, entitlement, and leasing of 22-acre mixed-use development, including sketch plan review, securing utility easements, and organizing community outreach.
  • Represented hotel owner in connection with entitlement of new hotel.
  • Advised and represented developer in pursuing and seeking amendment of existing entitlements for master planned mixed-use development.

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Honors & Awards

  • The Best Lawyers in America "Lawyer of the Year" in Raleigh for Construction Law, 2022
  • The Best Lawyers in America in Construction Law, 2007-2024; Construction Litigation, 2011-2024
  • Business North Carolina magazine’s "Legal Elite" in Construction, 2006-2007, 2009, 2012-2014, 2018-2019, 2024
  • North Carolina Super Lawyers, 2007-2019
  • Triangle Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, 2006
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ in Construction; Professional Negligence Defense; Real Property Dispute Resolution; Litigation; Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR); Public Transit
  • Phi Beta Kappa


  • Raleigh Chamber, General Counsel, 2022-present
  • Triangle Land Conservancy, Board of Directors, 2014-2020
  • Wake County Mayor's Association, President, 2011, 2015
  • North Carolina League of Municipalities, Finance and Administration Legislative Committee 2009-2015
  • Communities in Schools of the Triangle, Board of Directors, 2013-2015
  • Wake Education Partnership, Board of Directors, 2005-2013