Winston Kirby: Pure Focus

Winston KIrby

As Winston Kirby downshifts from 160 miles an hour to 50 in his 2006 BMW M series race car and leans into a turn at the Virginia International Raceway, his law practice is the last thing on his mind.

“Racing takes pure focus to keep from getting seriously injured or killing yourself,” said Kirby, who practices personal injury law at Raleigh-based Edwards Kirby. “I’ve learned to take the same level of focus to my client’s cases so I can sit down and put 100% of my attention into what I’m doing, and I can accomplish more in 20 minutes than someone else may accomplish in two or three hours.”

Kirby is a third-generation lawyer. His grandfather J. Russell Kirby had a general practice in Wilson. His father, David, launched Edwards Kirby in 1993 with UNC School of Law classmate John Edwards.

At age 5 or 6, Kirby understood that he was to become a lawyer, and he welcomed the responsibility. He has an undergraduate degree from UNC and earned his Juris Doctor from Campbell School of Law.

100% Effort

Kirby has the good fortune of being mentored by his father, David, and Edwards, considered by some to be among the best personal injury lawyers of their generation in NC.

“What I learned from them is you have to put 100% effort into everything you do as a lawyer,” said Kirby. “There are so many details, so many different strategies, so many different ways to get to the other side of the street.”

Kirby added that technology has had a profound impact on the practice of law.

“ChatGPT can craft interrogatories, write your discovery, do the jobs that lawyers really don’t want to do,” explained Kirby. “Computer-based data creates a lot more documents and information to sift through. But it still requires a lawyer’s judgment to figure out the one or two pages that may help win the case.”

Defective Products

The Edwards Kirby law firm gained attention in 1997 with a $30.9 million settlement for a 5-year-old girl who was seriously injured when she became trapped on a defective drain at a neighborhood pool.  Defective product litigation is one of the firm’s core practice areas. Kirby shares that affinity.

“These cases force you into an industry you may have no knowledge about to become an expert on the product.  That requires an insatiable desire and need to continue to inform yourself, and that’s one of the things I’m grateful I inherited from my dad.”

Kirby recalled a recent visit to a hospital to see a client who had suffered severe burns. “When I looked through his medical records, I saw the color picture of his arm that had been entirely burned. It was a stark reminder that these victims have suffered tremendously, and it’s my job to represent their interests.

“What I hope to bring to a case is compassion. Compassion will drive your success in the case because it will motivate you to get them the justice that they deserve because of the immense harm they may have suffered.”


Kirby was a member of the NCAJ’s NEXT 2023 Leadership class. He is preparing to lead the firm’s next generation as John Edwards, his father and Bill Bystrynski contemplate retirement.

“What I took away from the class is that there is no leadership style that fits all firms. They are run in a variety of different ways with different partners. I also learned that successful law firms treat their employees well, and that very successful firms treat their employees like family,” said Kirby.

“First and foremost, it’s about integrity. Your name is everything. Your reputation is everything, and it can be destroyed in a moment. In a system that’s inherently adversarial, you must be able to treat everyone with integrity and professional courtesy.”

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