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William P. Farthing Jr.

Retired of Counsel
Charlotte | 704.372.9000

Bill Farthing attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a Morehead Scholarship, graduating in 1970 with an A.B. degree in Religious Studies. After attending the interdenominational seminary Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA, Mr. Farthing chose law school over seminary, and returned to Chapel Hill and graduated from the UNC Law School with Honors in 1974. He joined the law firm Grier, Parker, Poe, Thompson, Bernstein, Gage & Preston in 1974 as it’s 14th lawyer. During his career, the firm has grown from 14 lawyers in one Charlotte office to 275 lawyers in eight offices in the Southeast. 

Mr. Farthing has more than 40 years of experience in law firm leadership and regulatory and employment counseling and litigation. Mr. Farthing served on Parker Poe's board of directors for 22 years and was the firm's first full-time Chairman and Managing Partner from 2002-2012. 

Prior to serving as Managing Partner, Mr. Farthing was the founder of and the first Practice Group Leader of the firm's Employment & Benefits Practice Group, where he defended numerous employers in disputes ranging from executive terminations to discrimination and harassment cases. He represented manufacturers, retailers, universities and transportation companies in various litigation matters earlier in his legal career.

As Retired Of Counsel at Parker Poe since 2015, Mr. Farthing served as University Counsel at Johnson C. Smith University and as a Board member of various leading Charlotte area and statewide non-profit and for-profit entities. Mr. Farthing and his wife Linda remain heavily involved in various philanthropic activities. 

Representative Experience

  • Procured hundreds of operating authorities for transportation entities in the Southeast in the first years after deregulation of the Interstate Commerce Commission.
  • Representation of and litigation on behalf of the region's largest outdoor advertising company in decades of sign ordinance disputes.
  • Representation of essentially all of North Carolina's independent dairy producers and processors that culminated in the institution of a constitutional commerce clause attack on the NC Milk Commission's regulatory authority, which resulted in the elimination of the state milk commission as a functioning regulatory body.
  • Defense of employers in disputes including EEOC, OFCCP, Title VII, ADEA and ADA claims, and sexual harassment and related claims.
  • Representing and defending colleges and universities in employment disputes, tenure controversies, executive and staff contracts, governance processes and procedures and related matters for more than 35 years. 
  • Has served for decades as University Attorney for Johnson C. Smith University, representing the University through the tenure of the last five University presidents.


During Mr. Farthing's decade as Chairman and Managing Partner, Parker Poe experienced the fastest growth in its history, at one point becoming one of the fastest growing firms in the Southeast as measured by the National Law Journal 250 survey. The firm achieved many other accomplishments under Mr. Farthing's leadership, including: 

  • The number of attorneys recognized in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business grew from one in 2003 to 21 in 2012, in nine different practice areas.
  • The number of attorneys recognized as The Best Lawyers in America grew from 15 in 2003 to 64 by 2012.
  • Established the Community Service Committee to catalogue, enhance, communicate and celebrate the collective involvement of the firm in community service. This led to the creation of Community Service Reviews, highlighting the firm's community contributions, and then to the 2012 Strategic Plan Key Goal of “Building Community in All That We Do.”
  • Instituted a complete restructuring of the attorney recruitment and development program, creating the new role of Chief Talent Officer in 2011.
  • Named to the Charlotte Business Journal's list of the “Healthiest Employers in Greater Charlotte” in 2011-2012.
  • Parker Poe's Chief Information Officer won the national “IT Director of the Year” award by Legal Technology News in 2009.
  • Named one of the Top 10 firms in the Southeast in economic development by Southern Business & Development magazine in 2009.
  • Winner of the first ever Charlotte Chamber “Innovation in Diversity Award” in 2008.
  • Created the Director of Professional Development and Diversity position in 2006, a first in the Charlotte market.
  • Parker Poe became an original signatory to the Mecklenburg County Bar's award-winning “Call to Action” Program supporting increased diversity in the legal community. Two Parker Poe attorneys have now served as chairs of the Bar's Charlotte Legal Diversity Clerkship program, and two firm attorneys have served as chairs of the Bar's Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
  • Winner of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Workplace Diversity Award in 2009.
  • Created Parker Poe Consulting in 2007, a wholly owned subsidiary based in Columbia, SC, that provides specialized non-legal services in the areas of lobbying, economic development and site selection.
  • Created an entirely new system for associate advancement, with an Associate Advancement Task Force leading a firmwide effort to implement competencies and proficiencies for each practice group and all Parker Poe associates.
  • Opened the Charleston, South Carolina office in 2004, dramatically enhancing the firm’s presence in that state.
  • Implemented the Key Client Interview program in 2003, and created Client Service Improvement Teams and Industry Teams for Energy, Health Care, Banking and Financial Institutions and Economic Development, among others.
  • Winner of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce Cornerstone Award for community service in 2006.
  • The Firm and its attorneys contributed more than $4 million to community organizations in NC and SC, with a lead gift of $600,000 to the Endowment for the Levine Cultural Campus, and with sizeable contributions totaling more than $1.4 million to the United Way, as well as annual drives to support the Arts & Science Council and Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont and its Access to Justice campaigns.
  • Successfully developed three different strategic plans in 2002, 2005 and 2012, due to the growth, success and changing nature of the law firm.
  • Winner of the 2012 Medal of Arts award given by the City of Raleigh Arts Commission for its contributions to the local arts community.

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Honors & Awards

  • Recipient Elon Homes & Schools for Children 2014 Kennedy Award for community service. 
  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ in Employment & Labor; Educational Institutions
  • North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society, 2023
  • American Lawyer magazine 2013 Top Rated Lawyer for Labor & Employment Law
  • Business Leader magazine, Business Leader of the Year Award – Charlotte, 2011
  • Morehead Scholar, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, 1966-1970
  • North Carolina Law Review, 1973-1974
  • Holderness Moot Court, Associate Justice, 1973-1974


  • Queens University, Board of Advisors, 2014-2022
  • N.C. Equal Access to Justice Commission, Appointed by Chief Justice Mark D. Martin, 2015-2018
  • North Carolina Ethics Commission, Appointed by Governor Pat McCrory, 2014-2018
  • Arts & Science Council, Chair, 2015 Annual Fund Drive; Executive Committee, 2014-present; Board of Directors, 2013-present; Campaign Cabinet, 2014 ASC Annual Fund Drive
  • Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont, Board of Directors, 2009-present; Executive Committee member, 2010-present; Vice President, 2012-present; Chair of the Finance Committee, 2011-2012; Program and Operations Committee, 2011-2012; Membership Committee, 2012-present
  • Mecklenburg County Bar, Lawyers As Volunteers Advisory (LAVA) Panel, 2014-2016; Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Chair, 2013-2014; Committee Vice-Chair, 2012-2013; Charlotte-Mecklenburg General Counsel and Managing Partners’ Diversity Initiative Advisory Committee, 2004-2010
  • Johnson C. Smith University , Board of Trustees, 1999-2008; Executive Committee, 1999-2008; Finance Committee, 1999-2008; Board of Visitors, 1985-1999; University Counsel, 2008-present
  • U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, North Carolina Advisory Board, Inaugural Member, 2012-present
  • Foundation for the Carolinas, Robinson Center for Civic Leadership, 2008-present
  • Charlotte Repertory Theatre, Board of Directors, 1990-1999; Chairman, Education and Outreach Committee, 1994-1998; Executive Committee, 1994-1998; Legal Counsel for Theatre in 1995 "Angels in America" free speech controvery
  • The Remsen Group's Managing Partner Forum, Advisory Board
  • American Employment Law Council, Past Member
  • United Way of Central Carolinas, Alexis de Tocqueville Society
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law, William Horne Battle Society, Cornerstone Society
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chancellor’s Club