Durham Office

Diamond View II, 280 South Mangum Street, Suite 130, Durham, NC 27701

(919) 787-8880 Contact

Raleigh Office

3605 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 500, Raleigh, NC 27612

(919) 787-8880 Contact

Michael S. Harrell has been practicing Domestic, Appellate, and Civil Litigation with Manning Fulton since he was licensed in 1990. With experience in over 100 appeals and over forty published opinions, and having made court appearances in at least 53 of North Carolina’s 100 counties during his career, Mike has substantial civil and appellate experience throughout the state.


Mike’s trial practice is presently centered on domestic relations law, representing clients in matters such as divorce, custody, property settlements, and adoptions. He also has significant experience in landlord-tenant disputes, collections judgments and enforcement, and a broad scope of other civil litigation matters. His appellate experience is practically umatched in the state, having been involved in over 100 appeals during the course of his career. This work has resulted in over forty published opinions from the North Carolina Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, establishing precedents in a wide variety of areas such as adoptions, landlord/tenant, administrative, and business disputes.




  • University of Virginia (J.D., 1990)
  • Wake Forest University (M.A., 1987)
  • Old Dominion University (B.A., 1985)

Admitted to Practice

  • State of North Carolina, 1990
  • United States District Court for the Eastern and Middle Districts of North Carolina

Professional Memberships & Activities

  • North Carolina Bar Association
  • Wake County Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • 10th Judicial District Bar
    • Professionalism Committee (1998-2006)
    • Presenter
      • Appellate Practice & Procedure (Continuing Legal Education 2007)
      • Jury Selection in Domestic Cases (CLE 2006)
      • Debt Collection from Start to Finish (CLE 2004)
      • Evidentiary & Procedural Considerations in Domestic Cases (CLE 2003)
      • Evictions and Landlord/Tenant Law in North Carolina, (CLE 2002)
      • Advanced Equitable Distribution, (CLE 1999)
      • Civil Trial Practice, (CLE 1995)
  • Recognized by North Carolina Business Legal Elite, Family Law (2009-2011, 2013-2014, 2017, 2019-2020, 2022-2024)
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers in America for Family Law and Commercial Litigation *(2019-2024)
  • Recognized with a Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review AV Rating(2023)

Representative Matters

  • Litigated the seminal case of In re Byrd from the trial court level to the North Carolina Supreme Court.  Byrd established the requirements for birthfathers’ consent for adoptions under North Carolina’s then newly enacted adoption statutes.
  • Represented ex-spouse recipient of death benefits under decedent’s pension plan.  The ex-spouse had disclaimed any interest in the benefits under premarital and separation agreements yet was still named as a recipient under the plan.  Trial court granted summary judgment to ex-spouse that recipient could keep all benefits.
  • Represented adoption agency when birthmother tried to revoke consent to adoption.  After trial court ruled in birthmother’s favor, Court of Appeals reversed and found no error in agency’s process in obtaining birthmother’s consent.
  • Represented business partner in suit against defending partner to recover expenses incurred in attempted development of beachfront property.  After defending partner only offered settlement consisting of fractional amount of business partner’s expenses, trial court awarded business partner entire six figure sum of expenses claimed, and Court of Appeals affirmed.
  • Represented homeowners whose newly purchased and unoccupied house flooded when municipality turned on water to house and open spigot flooded house.  Trial court dismissed suit against municipality, and Court of Appeals and Supreme Court reversed ruling which resulted in substantial settlement for homeowners.
  • Has represented regionwide apartment complex developer across the state for over two decades and made appearances in over twenty-five counties on developers behalf in summary ejectment and housing discrimination claims.

Community Engagement

Mike has been an active adult leader with the Boy Scouts of America for over fifteen years and specifically with Pack and Troop 200 in Cary and the Occoneechee Council in Raleigh.  He has two grown sons that both reached the rank of Eagle while with Troop 200.

Mike is a member of St. Pauls Episcopal Church in Cary.  He is particularly involved with the church’s ministry providing assistance to refugee family relocation to Wake County.  The church’s ministry Refuge4Refugees has been involved with at least five different families over the past two years.

Reported Cases

Justice v. Justice (Seminal case holding that equitable distribution claim can be discharged in bankruptcy; result summarily affirmed by NC Supreme Court) https://www.manningfulton.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/JusticeCOA.pdf

In re Adoption of Byrd (Landmark case first defining birthfathers’ requirements to consent to adoptions under newly enacted NC Adoption act) https://www.manningfulton.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/ByrdSCt.pdf

Patronelli v. Patronelli (NC Supreme Court case on pro bono attorney’s ability to recover attorneys’ fees under statutory provisions) https://www.manningfulton.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/PatronelliSCt.pdf

Muchmore v. Trask (NC Court of Appeals upheld alimony waiver in out-of-state prenuptial despite NC barring such waivers at the same time; result summarily affirmed by NC Supreme Court) https://www.manningfulton.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TraskCOA.pdf

Fussell v. NC Farm Bureau Mutual Ins. Co. (NC Supreme Court held homeowners had validly stated claim for property damage to homeowners’ property when municipality resumed water service to unoccupied dwelling resulting in flooded house) https://www.manningfulton.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/FussellSCt.pdf

Woodridge Homes Ltd. Partnership v. Gregory (NC Court of Appeals reversed trial court’s dismissal of eviction action when lease permitted eviction over repeated minor lease violations and in spite of landlord’s continued acceptance of rent) https://www.manningfulton.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/WoodridgeHomesCOA.pdf

Khaja v. Husna (NC Court of Appeals vacated alimony order arising from four day trial for numerous procedural errors at divorce, injunction, and alimony hearings) https://www.manningfulton.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/HusnaCOA.pdf

In re Adoption of Baby Boy (NC Court of Appeals reversed trial court ruling that birth mother could rescind consent to adoption and found no error in agency’s procurement of consent) https://www.manningfulton.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/AdoptBabyBoyCOA.pdf

Majewski Enterprises, Inc. v. The Park at Langston, Inc. (NC Court of Appeals remanded business dispute case over proper calculation of damages for sewer allotments in connection with residential development) https://www.manningfulton.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/ParkatLangstonCOA.pdf

ARE-100/800/801 Capitola, LLC v. Triangle Laboratories, Inc. (NC Court of Appeals opinion involving proper method of terminating commercial tenancy) https://www.manningfulton.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/ARECOA.pdf


“Mike is a very honest attorney that will give you great representation and advice.  He will always be on your side including making sure you don’t spend more than you need to.”


Clark Maurer

“Over the past 25 years it has been my pleasure to use Mike Harrell as my North Carolina attorney.  His integrity and knowledge is the barometer I use to evaluate other attorneys I have retained in other states. Mike’s legal expertise is remarkable, but his understanding of his clients needs are what sets him apart in the legal profession.”

Joanne Margherita

“An oceanfront condominium project I was developing went south in the recession.  Family, friends and I lost appreciable cash and real estate.  One of my partners went bankrupt, the other partner walked away owing me a great deal of money, and the bank was suing me for over $1 million.

Mike Harrell took my cases on, working diligently through many difficulties.  He sued, recovered the full amount owed from the errant partner, and managed to settle with the bank for cents on the dollar.  Mike delivered excellent results.”


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