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Meet Our Professionals

William L. Esser IV

Financial Services Industry Team Leader
Charlotte | 704.335.9507
Fax | 704.334.4706

Will Esser is the chair of Parker Poe’s Financial Services Industry Team. His practice focuses primarily on commercial litigation, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights, foreclosures, loan workouts, and loan sales. He has successfully represented lenders, loan servicers, landlords, municipal governments, creditors’ committees, receivers, and investment companies in federal and state court lawsuits, bankruptcies, arbitrations, and restructurings. His areas of particular emphasis include disputes involving loans, real estate, leases, mortgage servicing, title insurance, retail banking, and Ponzi/fraud schemes. He was an initial drafter of the North Carolina Commercial Receivership Act.

Will is admitted to the United States Supreme Court, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Second, Fourth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuits, as well as each of the federal district and bankruptcy courts in North Carolina. Will is certified by the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission (NCDRC) as a Superior Court mediator. Prior to joining Parker Poe, he served as a law clerk for the Honorable Paul J. Kelly on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Will is a passionate believer in pro bono work and is a member of Parker Poe’s Pro Bono Committee. Much of Will’s pro bono practice is focused on appellate advocacy, including filing amicus briefs in First Amendment cases before the United States Supreme Court and representing abused and neglected children in dozens of appeals before the North Carolina Supreme Court and North Carolina Court of Appeals through the Guardian ad Litem program. Will served as chair of the Pro Bono Committee from 2013 through 2017, during which time he and the firm were recognized through the following awards:

  • 2014 NC Bar Association Large Law Firm of the Year Pro Bono Award
  • 2014 Mecklenburg County Bar’s Outstanding Collaborative Project Pro Bono Award (in conjunction with Duke Energy and Legal Aid)
  • 2016 Outstanding Individual Pro Bono Service Award (Legal Aid of North Carolina)
  • 2017 NC Bar Association William Thorp Award (individual award for attorney who has presented exemplary pro bono legal services to low-income North Carolinians)

Representative Experience

Commercial Litigation

  • Litigated breach of contract claims arising from asset purchase agreements, franchise and distributor agreements, real property leases, and all forms of commercial contracts.
  • Defended financial institutions from lender liability claims, including borrower/guarantor claims for misrepresentation, fraud, tortious interference with business, negligence, unfair trade practices, and related tort actions.
  • Litigated cases involving complex financial instruments (such as interest rate swaps and letters of credit) and infrastructure bonds in federal court and the North Carolina Business Court.
  • Organized and led multi-firm joint defense team to defend more than 100 corporate clients in mass fraudulent transfer/alleged Ponzi scheme litigation.

Mortgage Servicer Litigation

  • Defended mortgage servicers from all varieties of claims, including wrongful foreclosure, FCRA, FDCPA, RESPA, and TILA.
  • Prosecuted contested foreclosures before clerk of court and on appeal.
  • Defended bankruptcy adversary proceedings and assisted with relief from stay/contested plan confirmation fights.
  • Analyzed and resolved challenging title issues related to encroachments, access, zoning, and lien priority.


  • Represented creditors in all areas of bankruptcy practice in Chapter 7, 11, 12, or 13, such as cash collateral motions, motions for adequate protection/relief from stay, and contested confirmation hearings.
  • Represented unsecured creditor committees from committee formation through final distribution under confirmed plans.
  • Assisted purchasers in Section 363 asset sales.
  • Defended vendors, surety companies, and other defendants in preference and avoidance actions.

Collections / Loan Workouts / Loan Sales

  • Managed the workout of large loan portfolios for lenders involving hundreds of real property foreclosures/note collection lawsuits.
  • Obtained the appointment of real property receivers over all collateral types (office, multifamily, retail, and industrial).
  • Negotiated and litigated title insurance claims and other real property related litigation.
  • Assisted with all stages of loan workouts, including forbearance agreements, loan modifications, deeds in lieu, short sales, and collection actions.
  • Represented buyers and sellers in loan sale transactions, including due diligence and contract negotiation.

Selected Cases

  • In re M.A.W., 804 S.E.2d 513 (N.C. 2017). Pro bono case in which the North Carolina Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and clarified the standard applicable to termination of a previously incarcerated father’s parental rights.
  • Rose Oil Company, Inc. v. PNC Bank, N.A., 2016 WL 373961 (E.D.N.C. 2016). Granted dismissal of lender liability claims against bank regarding loans and interest rate swap, including enforcement of contested release in loan modification agreement.
  • ACC Construction, Inc. v. Suntrust Mortgage, Inc., 769 S.E.2d 200 (N.C. Ct. App. 2015). Affirmed dismissal of unjust enrichment and constructive trust claims against lender arising from contested foreclosure, as well as awarding sanctions against plaintiff and plaintiff’s counsel.
  • The Caper Corporation v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 578 Fed. Appx. 276 (4th Cir. 2014). Affirmed dismissal of multiple contract and tort claims against bank related to interest rate swap used to hedge floating rate LIBOR loan.
  • Campbell v. Hanover Insurance Company, 709 F.3d 388 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 134 S. Ct. 221 (2013). Affirmed the grant of summary judgment to surety company on trustee’s preference claims arising from surety’s draw on a letter of credit provided by bonded contractor.
  • Harris v. SunTrust Mortgage et. al., 2013 WL 1120846 (M.D.N.C. March 18, 2013). Granted lender’s motion to dismiss claims asserted by borrower, including wrongful foreclosure and violations of TILA, RESPA, HOEPA, FCRA, slander of title, and others.
  • LFM Real Estate Ventures, LLC v. SunTrust Bank, 2012 WL 6114242 (W.D.N.C. December 7, 2012). Awarded lender judgment against borrower and guarantors, and dismissing lender liability claims for alleged fraud, predatory lending, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and unfair and deceptive trade practices.
  • In re Versant Properties, 2011 WL 1131057 (W.D.N.C. 2011). Held that lender, not lien claimants, was entitled to return of excess letter of credit funds drawn by municipal government for subdivision infrastructure.
  • Speedway Motorsports International Limited v. Bronwen Energy Trading, Ltd., 706 S.E.2d. 262 (N.C. Ct. App. 2011). Affirmed denial of French bank’s request to change venue to Switzerland based on forum selection clause contained in demand guarantee to collateralize international purchase of petroleum products.

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Honors & Awards

  • The Best Lawyers in America in Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law, 2016-2024; Bankruptcy Litigation, 2018-2024
  • Business North Carolina magazine’s “Legal Elite” in Business Law, 2012; Bankruptcy, 2024
  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers in Bankruptcy/Restructuring, 2012-2013, 2023-2024
  • North Carolina Super Lawyers, 2017-2024; Rising Star, 2009
  • North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society, 2018; 2021; 2022-2023
  • Parker Poe Pro Bono Legacy Award, 2024
  • North Carolina Bar Association's William Thorp Pro Bono Attorney Award, 2017
  • Legal Aid of North Carolina's Outstanding Individual Pro Bono Service Award, 2016
  • Mecklenburg County Bar Volunteer Lawyer Program Pro Bono Awards, Outstanding Individual Attorney, 2011
  • Belmont Abbey College Alumni Sports Hall of Fame Inductee, Tennis, 2011
  • Recipient of the Belmont Abbey College Brother Gregory Corcoran Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award, 2010
  • Charlotte Business Journal's 40 Under 40, 2009
  • North Carolina Super Lawyers Rising Star in Business Litigation, 2009
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV® Distinguished™ in Commercial Litigation; Real Estate Foreclosure; Franchise Litigation; Receiverships; Bankruptcy; Civil Fraud; Unfair Competition


  • Belmont Abbey College, Board of Trustees, 2017-2020
  • Mecklenburg County Bar, Fee Disputes Committee, 2013; Bar Leadership Institute, 2011
  • Room at the Inn, (n/k/a MiraVia), President, 2008-2009
  • St. Thomas More Society, Inc., Co-founder and President, 2004-2006
  • United States Bankruptcy Court, Chair, Chapter 11 Subcommittee, Western District of North Carolina Local Rules Committee, 2007
  • Parker Poe, Pro Bono Committee Chair, 2013-2017