William R. Terpening: Lawyer with Nexsen Pruet, LLC

William R. Terpening

Charlotte,  NC  U.S.A.

Peer Rating
AV® Preeminent

Client Rating

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Experience & Credentials Ratings & Reviews

Practice Areas

  • Tax Criminal Investigations
  • Litigation
  • White Collar Criminal Defense
  • Professional Liability
  • Business Disputes
  • Corporate Compliance
  • Appellate
University Duke University, M.A., 2001; Brown University, B.A., with highest honors in English/American Literature, Phi Beta Kappa
Law SchoolDuke University School of Law, J.D., 2001
Admitted2001, Georgia; 2007, North Carolina; U.S. District Court in Western, Middle and Eastern Districts of North Carolina; U.S. District Court Northern District of Georgia; U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit; U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit; U.S. Supreme Court

Civic & Professional Memberships

•North Carolina Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section, Council member (2011-2013); White collar task force, Chair
•Charlotte School of Law, Adjunct professor
•Mecklenburg County Bar Association
•National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
•NACDL Champion Magazine, Advisory Board
•Duke Law Club of Charlotte, Treasurer
•Brown University, Charlotte Recruiting Area Chair


Will Terpening practices criminal and business litigation, with a focus on trials and appeals in the federal courts, and securities litigation (substantial experience with SEC, FINRA, and private securities cases). In particular, he is experienced with “crisis management” - helping businesses and individuals respond to a wide variety of emergencies, including dealing with search warrants and subpoenas, litigation or indictment threats, and similar issues.

He regularly litigates and tries criminal cases in federal courts across the United States, and routinely handles all aspects (briefing and oral argument) of criminal appeals in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (as well as other Circuits). As well as representing businesses, Will often represents professionals (including other lawyers, physicians, and finance professionals) and executives in difficult regulatory (including working with licensing boards), criminal, or civil disputes related to their profession.

Because of his experience with both criminal and civil matters, Will has unique skill defending “parallel litigation” matters: cases where a party must protect against concurrent criminal, civil, and regulatory challenges. He is experienced with defending criminal fraud matters, including securities, tax, health care, bank, and real estate/ mortgage fraud. In addition to actively litigating cases, Will is often called upon to provide assistance with pre- indictment or pre- lawsuit negotiations, general counseling, and compliance matters, and some of his greatest successes have included avoiding litigation in the first instance.

Will served as a law clerk for the Honorable Graham C. Mullen, then Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. Before he came to Nexsen Pruet, he focused on securities litigation at Alston & Bird in Atlanta and, for five years, had his own successful white collar criminal defense boutique in Charlotte, Anderson Terpening PLLC.

Will routinely litigates in both Charlotte and Atlanta, as well as pro hac vice in various other jurisdictions nationwide. He serves the community by accepting both trial and appellate- level federal Criminal Justice Act cases, defending not just white collar cases, but also drug, firearm and other “traditional crime” cases for indigent clients.


•Named as a “Rising Star” in white-collar criminal defense by North Carolina Super Lawyers magazine (2009-2015)
•Named among North Carolina's Legal Elite by Business North Carolina magazine - Criminal Law, 2014
•Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent rating
•Listed in Best Lawyers in America - Criminal Defense: White-Collar, 2016

Speaking & Writing

Related News
FTC Stakes Claim as the New Sherriff for Big Data
October 1, 2013
Why Franchise Organizations Need Corporate Compliance Programs
February 7, 2014

Related Events
A 360 View of White Collar Crimes from Start to Finish - From Investigators, Prosecutors, Practitioners & Judges
April 17, 2015
Privacy Seminar
December 9, 2013
White Collar Crime Investigations and Parallel Proceedings - Complex Issues that Span Practice Areas
February 21, 2014

Related Insights
Ignoring the Warning Signs
June 24, 2011
An Imperfect but Honorable Legacy
June 1, 2012
These Paper Tigers Have Teeth
April 1, 2010
Checklist: Preservation and Search Instructions to Company Employees after Subpoena
April 1, 2010


Will is a frequent speaker and writer on white-collar criminal law matters. He has taught semester-long classes at Charlotte School of Law on trial practice, white collar crime, and law and humanities. He was profiled in the February 2011 edition of North Carolina Super Lawyers in an article titled Law and Literature 101.

Follow Will on Twitter at @willterpening for regular updates on issues related to white collar criminal defense and the law.


Why Franchise Organizations Need Corporate Compliance Programs; Will Terpening and Ted Pearce, Franchising World, January 2014

Will authored An Imperfect but Honorable Legacy: A Brief Survey of Cases Following Gideon v. Wainwright. It appeared in the The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer's June 2012 issue of The Champion magazine.

Book Review: Spinning the Law: Trying Court Cases in the Court of Public Opinion
Will shares insight on Kendall Coffey's Spinning the Law: Trying Cases in the Court of Public Opinion with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers publication, The Champion.

Ignoring the Warning Signs: You Don't Need to be an Investment Professional to Spot Signs of Fraud
In an article published in the Charlotte Business Journal, Will Terpening shares critical warning signs for investment fraud and his insight as a criminal-defense attorney.

These Paper Tigers Have Teeth: Anticipating and Responding to Document Subpoenas from Government Authorities in Federal Matters
Criminal-defense attorney Will Terpening discusses the importance of planning for and adequately responding to government subpoenas in an article written for The Champion, a publication of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.


Speaker, Civil or Criminal...or Both? Sailing Through Parallel Proceedings, North Carolina Bar Association Criminal Justice Section CLE - A 360 of White Collar Crimes From Start to Finish - From Investigators, Prosecutors, Practitioners and Judges, Greensboro, NC, April 17, 2015

Planner / Speaker, White Collar Crime Investigations and Parallel Proceedings - Complex Issues that Span Practice Areas, North Carolina Bar Association Criminal Justice Section CLE, Charlotte NC, February 21, 2014.

Compliance Week magazine quoted Will in FTC Stakes Claim as the New Sherriff for Big Data, September 10, 2013.

Association of Corporate Counsel Triangle Chapter Event Privacy and Information Security Presentation, May 15, 2013 (Raleigh, NC) and May 29, 2013 (Greensboro, NC).

Effective Direct and Cross Examination, August 25, 2012, Charlotte School of Law.

Professional Success: Making It Work For You - Focusing on Work/Life Balance for Students & Lawyers, Thursday, April 19, 2012, Charlotte School of Law.

Working With Elderly & Vulnerable Investors, April 20, 2011, Carroll Financial Associates, Inc. Investment Committee (Charlotte, NC).

Search Warrant Response, Subpoena Response, and Internal Investigations, September 14, 2010, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, Chapter # 28 (Charlotte, NC).

A Primer on Avoiding Obstruction of Justice, December 2008, Mecklenburg County Bar (Charlotte, NC)

A Different Kind of Identity Crisis: A Primer on Identity Theft, October 2007, North Carolina Association of CPAs (Greensboro, NC).

Outside Nexsen Pruet

During my free moments, I am an avid gardener. In the past year alone, I mowed my lawn. Nights, I like to translate the great Russian novels into English and then back into Russian. As I neither read nor write Russian, progress has been slow. My free time is not entirely devoted to frivolity and leisure. I also work weekends as an uncompensated car valet for local restaurants. Sometimes, if I like the car, I drive it around for several days and then park it behind the mall. It cuts down on auto maintenance costs.

Reported CasesNotable: Will's recent successes include: Obtained acquittal in two week trial in federal court in Charlotte for a tax attorney accused of tax fraud.; No prison time sentence for a CPA who had been convicted of bank fraud in federal court in Ohio and was looking at up to eight years of active time.; No prison time at sentencing for Charlotte real estate broker who had been looking at four years of active time.; Obtained a new trial for a Charlotte real estate attorney who had been convicted of mortgage fraud at trial in federal court.; Persuaded federal prosecutors not to prosecute a prominent real estate developer who was being investigated for mortgage fraud.

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Office Information

William R. Terpening

227 W. Trade St., Ste. 1550
CharlotteNC 28202


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