Carolyn Lloyd Coward is a principal with The Van Winkle Law Firm, where she focuses her practice on health care and labor and employment law. Combining her depth of health care industry knowledge with keen legal insight, she helps to ensure physicians, hospitals, long-term care facilities and other health-care entities comply with federal and state regulations, including HIPAA, fraud and abuse statutes and the Stark Law regarding physician self-referrals. In addition, she counsels health care providers and medical centers to structure business ventures and negotiate and develop employment and shareholder agreements in compliance with government and Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement regulations.

Throughout her career, Coward has represented health care providers in licensing and peer-review matters, reimbursement appeals and business disputes. She is a frequent speaker before legal and health care industry organizations as well as private businesses in North Carolina.

Her professional highlights have included unwinding three major medical practices and successfully negotiating terms without litigation, alternative dispute resolution nor interruption of practice business; representing a physician practice in a reimbursement issue with Medicare, in which the practice was allowed to retain $100,000 in contested fees; and successfully defending a local hospital in U.S. District Court in a multi-million dollar claim commenced by a surgeon seeking reinstatement of medical privileges.

Practice Areas

Awards & Honors

  • Lawyer of the Year, Asheville Area – The Best Lawyers in America® 2020 – Health Care Law
  • The Best Lawyers in America® 2020, Asheville Area – Corporate Compliance Law;
    • Health Care Law
  • Business North Carolina Legal Elite

Practice Highlights

  • Unwound three major medical practices and successfully negotiated terms without litigation or alternative dispute resolution and no interruption of practice business.
  • Represented a physician practice in a reimbursement issue with Medicare in which the practice was allowed to retain $100,000 in contested fees.
  • Regularly represents providers in Medicare appeals and recently successfully argued an appeal before the ALJ that allowed the provider to recoup over $100,000.
  • Successfully structured business ventures between hospitals and physicians in compliance with fraud and abuse, physician self-referral and tax-exempt laws.
  • Successfully defended a local hospital in U.S. District Court in a multi-million dollar claim commenced by a surgeon as a result of his medical privileges being summarily suspended at the recommendation of the hospital’s medical staff. The action asserted claims for deprivation of due process, freedom of speech, breach of contract, slander and contract interference.


  • University of North Carolina, Juris Doctor, 1999
  • University of Tennessee, Bachelor’s Degree, 1974

Professional Affiliations

  • Buncombe County Bar
  • American Health Lawyers Association
  • North Carolina State Bar
  • North Carolina Bar Association

Community Involvement

  • Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, Public Policy Vice Chairperson
  • Crescent Health Solutions, Chairperson
  • Smoky Mountain Center, Board of Directors
  • University of North Carolina Law Alumni Association, Board of Directors
  • Western Carolina Medical Society, Development Council


  • Panelist, “Health Care Risk, What you better know!,” The Risk Management Association, 2013
  • Speaker, “Physician Alignment – a New Era” and “Physician Compensation – The Nuts and Bolts,” NCACPA Healthcare Industry Conference, Greensboro, N.C., 2013
  • Speaker, “Cutting Through the Confusion: Health Care Reform & The Impact on Your Business,” BB&T Spring Benefits Seminar, 2013
  • Panelist, Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development – 2013 Industrial Executive Forum, 2013
  • Speaker, “Front Page News in Agriculture: E-Verify, Health Care Reform, EEOC,” Various Business Employers, 2013
  • Speaker, “Affordable Care Act 1.0: Tax & Health Care Benefits For Employers,” Various Business Employers, 2013
  • Speaker, “New Omnibus HIPAA Privacy & Security Rule,” Western Carolina Medical Society, 2013
  • Speaker, “Post Election Results: The Future of Health Care Reform,” UNC School of Law Festival of Legal Learning, Chapel Hill, N.C., 2013
  • Speaker, “2013 Employers Survival Guide: Health Care, Indp. Contractors, E-Verify, Guns at Work,” Henderson County Chamber of Commerce, 2013
  • Speaker, “Post-election Impact on the Local Healthcare Community,” Western Carolina Medical Society, 2012
  • Speaker, “Legal” Wellness Programs: The Challenges and Rewards….Financial Health,” ALA Financial Management Conference, Chicago, IL 2012
  • Speaker, “Develop Your Firm’s Wellness Program (Stay Healthy, Stay Happy),” ALA 2012 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii 2012.

A native of Robbinsville, N.C., Carolyn is married to a fellow lawyer, Orville D. Coward, Jr.

  • Favorite Food: Mexican
  • Favorite Artists: Local artists, including Craig Forrest, Roger Stephens
  • Favorite Music: Bob Dylan
  • Favorite Book/Author: Any book by Dostoevsky or Tolstoy
  • Favorite Movie: Any movie by the Coen brothers
  • Favorite Place to Visit: London
  • Guilty Pleasures: Designing and furnishing interior spaces