Maginnis Howard: Pursuing Growth and Continuous Improvement

Triangle-based Maginnis Howard orchestrated a strategic maneuver by merging with Charles G. Monnett III & Associates in 2022 and Britton Law in 2020, extending the firm’s reach to Raleigh, Charlotte and Fayetteville.

“These mergers weren’t just about adding geographical presence; they were opportunities to add top talent and unparalleled expertise,” said Ed Maginnis. “From the name partners on down, these firms embodied the excellence we want and practice every day in serving our clients. Growth is not a destination but a relentless pursuit of improvement. It’s about becoming better.”

Ed Maginnis launched the firm in 2009 when he moved to Raleigh from Washington, DC, where he had practiced with two large firms. “Big Law wasn’t for me,” he said. He moved with his wife to Raleigh, where she had accepted a new job as an attorney. “I knew three people in the entire state, but I thought it would be a great opportunity to start a firm.”

Having attorneys with diverse backgrounds and experience in different practice areas allows us to provide a wider range of services to people needing help."

Maginnis Howard has 12 attorneys handling consumer protection and personal injury cases that may involve class-action cases and medical malpractice. “Having attorneys with diverse backgrounds and experience in different practice areas allows us to provide a wider range of services to people needing help,” said Maginnis.

“A big part of what we must do as lawyers is use our professional judgment based on the circumstances. After practicing for 30 years, there are no two cases that are exactly alike,” said attorney Randall Phillips.

Ed Maginnis

Consumer Protection

“North Carolina has some of the best consumer protection laws in the country,” explained Maginnis. He focuses on consumer protection issues, including unfair debt collection, improper credit reporting, false advertising, and problems caused by mortgage companies and banks. “Anytime a large company is harming the little guy, we are interested in exploring how we can help.”

The firm is finalizing a case against a healthcare provider who was overcharging patients for obtaining their medical records. “This company consistently charged unlawful amounts statewide to anybody who pursued a personal injury claim. We are resolving it in a manner that gets everybody their money back and then some,” explained Maginnis.

North Carolina’s unfair debt collection laws, which include The North Carolina Debt Collection Act and the North Carolina Collection Agency Act, enhance federal consumer protection rights against unfair debt collection practices. These statutes apply to all debt collectors, including original creditors (like credit card companies and medical providers) and third-party debt collectors (like collection agencies).

According to Maginnis, “In instances where debt collectors are misrepresenting their rights, reporting items inaccurately to credit bureaus, collecting fees they are not allowed to collect, saying they can do things they can’t do, including harassment, threats of arrest, etc., we provide people with the full legal protection they are entitled to under state and federal law.”

While much of the firm’s work is based in North Carolina, it also handles out-of-state claims. “Right now, we have a case against a mortgage company who made false threats relating to foreclosure that we have filed in five different states,” explained Maginnis.

Personal Injury

Shawn Howard had an established personal injury and wrongful death practice when he became a partner at Maginnis Howard in 2020. Today his practice focuses on motor vehicle accidents, construction accidents, premises liability, and dramshop cases.

While attending law school, he clerked at an insurance defense firm.

“It opened my eyes to what the process is like for normal people and the stakes that are at risk,” said Howard. “One of my first experiences in a courtroom at an insurance defense firm was representing an insurance carrier. The plaintiff in that case was either going to get a million dollars or $30,000. There was a coverage question. The plaintiff’s lawyer really wasn’t prepared, and they lost the hearing. That plaintiff should have recovered the full million dollars for what had happened to her. I wanted to be on the other side of that equation.”

Howard acknowledged the challenge of settling cases before a lawsuit. “The actuarial code is primarily for pre-litigation cases. If you are settling your cases before a lawsuit, there’s not much you can do to crack that code. But, if you represent good people who are honest, trustworthy, and tell the truth, and you prepare them really well for their case, you can crack that code.”

“You must put an insurance company’s foot to the fire, and they must know you’re willing to go as far as necessary for your client. Representing good people goes a long way in these cases,” said Howard.

Shawn Howard
Randall Phillips

Medical Malpractice

In 1989, pre-med student Randall Phillips held a spot in line for his girlfriend outside the courtroom where televangelist Jim Bakker was on trial for fraud and conspiracy in federal court.

While standing in line for over seven hours, he spoke with an attorney monitoring the case. “He explained what was going on, and at about three in the afternoon, I literally had this eureka moment. I said to myself, ‘Damn, I think I can do that, and do it well.’”

Phillips joined Maginnis Howard in 2022 with the merger of Charles G. Monnett III & Associates. He represents clients and their families in personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death cases throughout North Carolina. He said what distinguishes his 30-year career is his unique approach to medical malpractice cases from his experience working with doctors on cases that may arise in the emergency room, surgery or from post-operative care.

Early in his career, Phillips befriended an emergency room doctor who had also studied law and attended law school. They collaborated on several cases together, which gave him an important education in medicine. “I learned that anatomy and physiology are the foundation for understanding medicine and the importance of pathophysiology, which is the study of cause and effect, or the ‘why’ in medicine. It was almost like getting a medical education,” said Phillips.

Phillips believes each case requires a tailored approach, which demands creativity and problem-solving skills. “The common denominators for success are creativity, problem-solving, and psychology. You have to understand everybody, all the participants in the case, their wants and goals, and the dynamic between each of them.”

Phillips said there continue to be challenges as a result of confusion about NC’s Tort Reform Act of 2011, which placed caps on compensation and placed heavier burdens on plaintiffs seeking compensation for medical malpractice.

“We’ve had a cap on non-economic damages in North Carolina since 2011, which remains unfair and arbitrary. It does not address any alleged concern of frivolous lawsuits, and instead, it only hurts individuals who have suffered the most serious injuries.”

Co-Counsel Opportunities

Maginnis Howard is open to co-counsel opportunities. “I would say three-quarters of what I do is on some type of referral or co-counsel arrangement where another firm either doesn’t have expertise in medical malpractice or is from out of state, and they get in touch with us, and we work together,” said Phillips, who leads the firm’s medical malpractice cases.

“We frequently associate with subject matter experts on a particular industry or type of case, even if that means sharing the fee,” said Maginnis.

“Similarly, when people ask us to co-counsel, we bring our areas of expertise that lend value to the case, whether that be North Carolina law expertise, consumer protection expertise, dram shop expertise, data breaches, or toxic metals expertise,” added Howard.

Ed Maginnis and Shawn Howard

Future Growth

Victor Macam, Rachel Mosser, Ed Maginnis, Shawn Howard, Karl Gwaltney and Randall Phillips

Maginnis reiterated the firm’s openness to growth opportunities, be it through lateral hires or mergers. “We’re always ready to explore potential mergers that align with our culture and can replicate the mutually beneficial outcomes we’ve experienced,” he affirmed.

“Our approach to growth is strategic,” Maginnis explained. “We have a clear understanding of our strengths and areas for potential expansion. Whether it’s through expanding our existing practice areas or bringing in attorneys with desired skill sets and expertise, we’re always interested in opportunities that align with our growth strategy.”

Mock Trial Competition

Some of the seeds for growth were planted earlier this year. Maginnis Howard is a primary sponsor of the North Carolina Mock Trial Program, which hosts an annual statewide high school mock trial competition. Spearheaded by Attorney Rebecca Britton, the competition has grown to include 800 students from 56 high schools.

NC Mock Trial competition at Wake County Courthouse in February

Maginnis believes the competition is a great way to teach students about their field of work. “These kids showcase impressive skills and do a fantastic job showing off everything we strive to do as attorneys. It’s a great way to teach a little about what we do, see how good they are, and how hard they work. We hope they will join us in the field someday,” said Maginnis.

“I did something similar called a Lincoln Douglas debate,” recalled Howard. “It made a huge difference for me and significantly boosted my confidence in public speaking.”

Two Sets of Eyes

Howard said one of the most common concerns clients have about lawyers is responding to calls, texts, and emails.

“That’s not an issue at all with our firm; it’s a strength,” said Howard. “Two or three attorneys are assigned to most cases. Two sets of eyes and two sets of experiences provide a fresh perspective and ensure that our clients are guided through the process by a team of experienced attorneys.”

“We represent people who have been catastrophically injured and people underrepresented against large institutional players, with unlimited resources to fight against us,” explained Maginnis. “This is serious work, often with life-changing impact, and we want to be a place where our clients get results and have a positive experience.”

“The litigation process is like a train ride. I want to be the one driving the train for somebody that needs to get to the end of the track,” said Howard.

“If I have made a positive difference in a client’s quality of life, then it has truly been a good day,” said Phillips.

“It’s a good day when I can move along a case and get an outcome that will matter for somebody who really needs it,” said Maginnis.

At a Glance

Maginnis Howard
7706 Six Forks Rd.
Suite 101
Raleigh, NC 27615
(919) 526-0450
Charlotte Office

Charlotte Office
6842 Carnegie Blvd.
Suite 100
Charlotte, NC 28211
(704) 376-1911

Fayetteville Office
2850 Village Dr.
Suite 206
Fayetteville, NC 28304
(910) 339-6603

Practice Areas