Forrest Firm Honors 12 Attorneys as Legal Elite and Super Lawyers

Forrest Firm is proud to recognize seven outstanding attorneys as 2021 Legal Elite by Business North Carolina, an honor less than 3% the state’s thousands of attorneys earned this year. North Carolina Super Lawyers named seven Forrest Firm attorneys as Super Lawyers—three on the 2021 Super Lawyers list and four as Rising Stars. Only 5% of North Carolina attorneys earn the Super Lawyers designation annually and just 2.5% receive the Rising Star honors. These attorneys not only provide qualitatively excellent legal services but also embody the Firm’s core value of service to their communities, empowering others to achieve their full potential.

Brian Bernhardt, Legal Elite


Brian Bernhardts practice focuses on IRS tax controversies, tax litigation against the IRS and the Department of Justice, and advising nonprofit organizations on tax and governance matters. Over the years, Brian has volunteered his time to a number of community organizations, currently serving on the Board of the McColl Center for Arts + Innovation, a nonprofit in Uptown Charlotte supporting artists as they grow their creative practice.

Rachel Blunk, Legal Elite and Super Lawyers

Rachel Blunk is a leader within the Firm as the Triad Managing Attorney. She practices in a wide array of areas including business law, litigation matters, and commercial transactions. A leader outside of the Firm as well, Rachel served the North Carolina Bar Associate as the 2018-2019 Young Lawyers Division Chair as has been honored multiple times as a Young Lawyer Pro Bono Award Winner. She also serves her local community as the Chair for the Fund Development Committee for the Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties and served on the Board of Directors for the Alamance Partnership for Children for many years.

James Forrest, Legal Elite and Super Lawyers

James Forrest

James Forrest founded Forrest Firm in 2011 to provide corporate legal resources in a markedly different, client-centric manner – where customer service was the central focus. Since then, the firm has grown exponentially in all areas, serving thousands of clients with offices across North Carolina.  Forrest Firm is the only Certified B Corp Law Firm in the state of North Carolina, aligning the firm with B-lab’s mission to use business as a force for good. James has served a number of Boards throughout his career, most recently as a Director for First Tee of the Triangle, a youth development organization teaching children valuable life skills through the game of golf.

Cory Howes, Legal Elite

Cory Howes

Cory Howes serves as the Firm’s Trusts & Estates Practice Group Leader, managing a team of attorneys and paralegals. He also manages the Firm’s Corporate Shield Service, which helps business owners and executives maintain corporate formalities for their business entities and serves on the Board of the NC Forum of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Lyle Gravatt, Legal Elite

Lyle Gravatt

Lyle Gravatt focuses his practice on intellectual property and leads the Firm’s IP Practice Group. Providing end-to-end services, clients can identify, create, monetize and protect their IP assets. Using his strategic perspectives and experience in a wide range of technologies, clients may align their patents, trademarks and trade secret assets with their business’s goals. Lyle consistently offers his expertise to others, including serving on the Board of Freedom United, a movement with a mission to end modern slavery.

Patrick Lineberry, Legal Elite

Patrick Lineberry

Patrick Lineberry focuses his practice on commercial real estate out of the Firm’s Greensboro office. He used his legal expertise as a former fellow for JusticeMatters, a Durham-based non-profit focusing on human trafficking. He also served his local community as a member of the Board for the Jaycees Greensboro Chapter, a community service organization working to create and engage young active citizens and as a fellow for Trinity Forum Academy, a Christian leadership organization.

John Love, Legal Elite

John Love

John Love focuses his legal practice on entity formations, mergers and acquisitions, reorganizations, business transactions, commercial contracts, debt and equity financings, and general corporate matters. John specifically has deep experience in negotiating and structuring a wide variety of corporate transactions and managing all aspects of the transactional due diligence process. He is also a licensed CPA and frequently advises clients on accounting, finance, and tax-related issues that are prevalent across a wide array of corporate transactional matters.

Andy Lax, Super Lawyers

Andy Lax

Andy Lax has worked as a litigator, resolving disputes for clients of the firm across a host of industries in a career spanning over three decades. In addition to his trial work, Andy also focuses on other forms of risk management, including dispute resolution, litigation avoidance, and claim/case handling. Throughout his career, Andy has taken over 200 trials to jury verdicts. Andy is also a Certified Superior Court Mediator, and he has mediated more than 600 cases in that role.

Travis Albea, Rising Star

Travis Albea

Travis Albea’s legal practice embodies Forrest Firm’s purpose by advising entrepreneurs and businesses on how to best achieve their goals. Travis practices principally in the areas of corporate and business law. An entrepreneur himself, Travis and his wife, Jessica, own and operate two juice bars in the Greenville area. Travis is committed to making the Greenville community an even better place in both a professional and volunteer capacity. He’s the Immediate Past Chair of the Pitt County Bar Association and serves on the Pitt County Courthouse Portrait Committee as well as the Pitt County RISE29 Advisory Council. He also volunteers his time at the ECU Miller School of Entrepreneurship and is an active leader in the Pitt-Greenville soccer community.

Andy Jones, Rising Star

Andy Jones

Andy Jones provides proactive counsel to help businesses and their owners solve problems and create value, primarily in the areas of dispute resolution and corporate transactions. In his litigation practice, Andy represents clients in matters involving all forms of civil and commercial disputes in state and federal courts, from pre-filing negotiations to appeals. In addition, he provides business counsel to for-profit and non-profit businesses, entrepreneurs, and executives, with an emphasis on formations, complex commercial contract negotiations, corporate governance matters, mergers, acquisitions, and other strategic transactions. Andy serves as President the Firm and volunteers his time as a board member for several Wilmington-based non-profit organizations.

Virginia Pleasants, Rising Star

Virgina Pleasants

Virginia Pleasants works with clients in the Triad as well as across North Carolina and focuses her practice on both business law and estate planning. Active in the Winston-Salem community, Virginia serves on the Westlawn School Board of Directors, a school educating students with learning differences. She also served on the Foundation committee for Family Services, a nonprofit organization that works collaboratively with government, education, other nonprofit organizations and citizens to solve our community’s complex social problems.

Adam Wanee, Rising Star

Adam Wanee

Adam Wanee focuses his work on emerging companies, angel and venture capital financing, and mergers and acquisitions. Adam counsels entrepreneurs and investors through a variety of corporate legal issues, including entity formation and corporate governance, contract matters, angel and venture capital investments, debt financings, securities law and strategic transactions.