Asheville, NC Feb. 2, 2016 – Caroline Knox, the newly installed President
of The Van Winkle Law Firm, is bringing a new perspective to the 109-year-old
law firm with deep roots in Western North Carolina and throughout the
Southeastern United States.
“Legal services are about more than just the law,” says Caroline,
who has been with the Firm since 2000. “It’s about developing
relationships with clients, helping them navigate important decisions
and achieving their goals. You have to understand people’s stories,
their ambitions and oftentimes their fears. It’s a personal connection
regardless of whether the client is an individual or a business.”
The focus on the client experience is just one part of a strategy Caroline
plans to pursue as Van Winkle’s newest president and the first woman
to hold the role. She’s also backing an “innovation committee,”
which she likens to research and development functions. The Firm will
promote plans coming from the committee that will enhance services offered
to its clients.
“Clients’ needs have evolved with changes in our economy, changes
in our population and changes in the legal market,” says Caroline.
With a practice centered on estate planning and administration, elder law
and guardianship, Caroline knows what it means to connect with clients.
She has developed an emphasis on special needs trusts and other planning
tools for clients with disabilities and children with special needs. She
routinely serves clients who would otherwise be disqualified from public
assistance, and she works to preserve assets for supplementing care provided
by Medicaid and Social Security.
Caroline was in the first class of 9 lawyers to be certified as specialist
in Elder Law by the North Carolina State Bar, and is one of only 18 NC
lawyers currently designated as Certified Elder Law Attorneys (CELA) by
The National Elder Law Foundation. Caroline advises clients on matters
relating to guardianship, Medicaid and other public benefits planning.
In addition, she often serves as trustee, guardian, Executor and attorney-in-fact
under powers of attorney.
“I often feel like I am a part of my client’s family, someone
who cares deeply about their best interests,” says Caroline, the
mother of three children. She plans to maintain her practice while serving
as President. She succeeds Phil Smith, who served in that role for more
than 12 years.
“Caroline represents the next generation of legal practice and law
firm leadership,” said Smith. “She brings a fresh perspective
and enthusiasm to our Firm and our clients. It’s satisfying to see
this kind of succession take place, and I’m proud we have Caroline
serving in this role.”
“I’ve learned from the best,” says Caroline of Smith
and other predecessors, including former Mayor Larry McDevitt who is a
practicing partner at Van Winkle. “I’m looking forward to
continuing their spirit of leadership and service to our clients, the
community and our Firm.”