In honor and remembrance for our partner, mentor, and friend W. Gerald Thornton please see his In Memoriam


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

(919) 787-8880 Contact


3605 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 500, Raleigh, NC 27612

(919) 787-8880 Contact

Steve was recently named the 2024 “Lawyer of the Year” in the area of Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships) for the Raleigh region by Best Lawyers in America, the oldest and most respected peer-voting based legal publication recognizing law practice excellence. He also received “Lawyer of the Year” recognition in 2023 for the Tax Law practice area as well as the Closely Held Companies and Family Business Law practice area in Raleigh. Best Lawyers in America also recognizes Steve’s practice expertise in the areas of Trusts and Estates, Mergers and Acquisitions Law, and Corporate Law, reflecting the wide diversity and deep experience Steve brings to the practice of law.

Steve represents middle market companies and closely held businesses in transactional matters, including mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, partnerships and joint ventures, business succession planning, and other transactions with an emphasis on tax planning structure. Steve assists companies and individuals with real estate investment and development transactions and related tax planning. He also represents many business owners and high net worth individuals implementing substantial wealth transfer strategies and tax and estate planning for their families.


Steve has vast experience in representing many private, closely held companies in various business transactions including mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, corporate reorganizations, recapitalizations, redemptions, product distribution arrangements and licensing. He also structures complex joint ventures, partnerships and strategic alliances. Clients benefit from Steve’s experience and advice on the tax planning and business implications of deal structure and “choice of entity” features related to the formation, operation, combination, restructuring, and termination of C Corporations, S Corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships. Steve helps clients navigate the wide variation of differences in the opportunities and risks associated with the types of business entity involved with their business transactions.

Steve’s wide range of experience includes counseling clients on corporate governance issues for boards of directors and corporate executives. He also structures buy-sell agreements for business entities. He has assisted clients with numerous corporate finance matters involving debt and equity financings, and also has substantial experience representing investors with private equity and debt investments. He has handled a number of private placement Regulation D securities offerings, including preparation of confidential disclosure memoranda and other documents for compliance with federal and state securities laws.

A Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law, Steve maintains a vibrant estate and tax planning practice. He works with clients on estate plans to implement tax-saving wealth transfer and management strategies with family trusts, limited liability companies and partnerships, generation-skipping trusts and multi-generational legacy trust planning, sales to defective grantor trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, grantor retained annuity and uni-trusts, various other estate freezing and discount valuation strategies, irrevocable life insurance trusts and related life insurance strategies, and probate minimization strategies, including the use of funded revocable living trusts. Steve helps clients navigate opportunities with business succession planning and asset protection strategies, often using the family trusts and business entities that also implement the wealth transfer and tax savings objectives in the client’s estate plan. Steve also assists clients with charitable planning objectives, including charitable lead and remainder trusts, family foundations, and related charitable giving opportunities. He regularly handles numerous estate and trust administration proceedings and matters to process wealth transfers for families following the loss of a loved one. Finally, Steve also has successfully represented clients with a number of income tax and estate tax related audits, following Internal Revenue Service examination of client tax returns.




  • University of North Carolina (J.D., 1984)
  • University of North Carolina (B.S., Phi Beta Kappa, 1979)

Admitted to Practice

  • State of North Carolina, 1984

Professional Memberships & Activities

  • N.C. State Bar, Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law (1994- Present)
  • North Carolina Bar Association
    • Member of Tax Section
    • Estate Planning Section
    • Business Law Section
  • NCBA Tax Section Service:
    • Section Chair (1999-2000)
    • Nominations Committee (2000 to 2005)
    • Legislative Chair (1996-1998)
    • Tax Continuing Education Chair (1995-1996)
    • Tax Newsletter Editor (1989-1991) Wake County Estate Planning Council
  • Manning Fulton Practice Group Leader, Corporate/Tax/Estates Section (2005-2022)
  • Wake County Estate Planning Council (2022-Present)
  • Former Licensed Certified Public Accountant (1982-2012)
  • Best Lawyers in America
    • 2024 Lawyer of the Year (Raleigh) – Business Organizations (Including LLCs and Partnerships)
    • 2023 Lawyer of the Year (Raleigh) – Tax Law; & 2023 Lawyer of the Year – Closely Held Companies/Family Business Law
    • Recognized for Business Organizations, Closely Held Companies and Family Business Law, Tax Law, Corporate Law, Mergers and Acquisitions Law, Trust and Estates (since 2018)
  • NC Super Lawyers, 2006-2023, Estate Planning and Business Law
  • Legal Elite, Business North Carolina, (2006, 2010-2012, 2015-2021), Tax, Estate Planning and Business Law
  • Martindale-Hubbell, AV rating

Prior Experience and Clerkships

  • Petree, Stockton, & Robinson, Attorneys (Now Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP); Winston-Salem, Raleigh, 1984-1989
  • Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co., CPAs (now KPMG US LLP); Raleigh, 1980-1981

Representative Transactions

  • Represented clients in major corporate finance transactions, including commercial borrowing and private debt and equity placements
  • Represented clients in business acquisitions and sales including various types stock purchase transactions, asset purchase transactions, mergers, spin-offs and other reorganizations and restructurings
  • Represented and counseled clients on ESOP transactions involved with business acquisitions
  • Counseled clients on complex tax savings strategies for real estate, including like-kind exchanges, condemnation rollover transactions, and deal structuring for limited liability companies and joint ventures
  • Involved with all business organization and transactional aspects of closely-held business representation, including formation of C corporations, S corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships, and counseling clients on varying tax implications of these business entities
  • Represented business owners in business succession planning, including preparation of joint-venture agreements, operating agreements, shareholder buy-sell agreements on business formation and to effectuate business succession plans, and consulting on income, estate and gift tax implications of same
  • Represented clients in drafting and implementing equity compensation and deferred compensation plans, including incentive stock option agreements and other employment agreements
  • Represented clients in negotiating and drafting product distribution and licensing transactions
  • Represented individual clients in estate and tax planning matters, and supervision of estate and trust administration proceedings to transfer wealth for client estates
  • Represented individuals in implementing complex wealth transfer planning and preservation strategies, including use of family trusts, partnerships and LLC’s for asset protection and wealth transfer strategies, generation-skipping trusts for multi-generational legacy planning, sales and gifts to intentionally defective grantor trusts including numerous spousal limited access trusts (“SLAT’s”), qualified personal residence trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts and various other estate freezing transactions, charitable lead and remainder trusts, family foundations and other charitable giving strategies, irrevocable life insurance trusts and related life insurance strategies, and probate minimization strategies using revocable living trusts




Community Engagement

Alexander Family YMCA, Raleigh

  • Chair of Board of Advisors (2017-2019 and 2020-2021), Vice Chair (2016)
  • Board Member (2008-2021)
  • Chair of We Build People Development Campaign (2012 & 2013), Vice Chair (2010-2011)
  • 2019 Volunteer of the Year (Marvin Pittman Award), Alexander & Poyner YMCA’s

Alexander Family YMCA and Raleigh City League

  • Youth Basketball Coach (2007-2015)
  • Campaigner for We Build People Development Campaign charitable campaign (2008-Present)

Hayes Barton United Methodist Church, Raleigh

  • Stewardship Team Chair (2014-2019)
  • Finance Team Member (2014-2021)


  • UNCW Foundation Board (2018-Present; Executive Committee 2022-Present) 
  • Parents Council (2016-Present)

Broughton Senior High School, Raleigh

  • Broughton Community Advocates Committee (2014-2017)

Crossroads Fellowship Church, Raleigh

  • Administrative Leadership Team (1995-2011)

Manning Fulton & Skinner has been an important partner of ours for many years.  In the conduct of our business, Steve Byrd has proven to be an invaluable asset.  The whole Manning, Fulton & Skinner team has done an exceptional job helping our firm navigate issues as they arise while minimizing future risks.”

H. David Swain
Founder & President, Swain & Associates, LLC of Wilmington, N.C.

Contact Us

Contact Us

Contact Us

Contact Us