Spotlight: Amy Wang

By Rick Kolb

Amy Wang is the incoming chair of the Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Section, and she is an attorney at Ward and Smith, P.A., based in their New Bern office. She leads the environmental practice for her firm, where she has worked for 17 years.

Amy was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and moved to Anchorage, Alaska, when her father was drafted by the U.S. Army after graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in U.S. history. Amy’s family moved a lot after her father left the Army to begin his career with Mobil Oil: Kansas to Nebraska, back to Kansas, back and forth between Chicago, Illinois, Virginia and Pennsylvania (six different junior high and high schools). After graduating from high school in Virginia, Amy attended the University of Virginia as an undergraduate and spent fall semester of her junior year at University College London. During summer breaks after her first, second, and third years of undergraduate school and for a year after graduating in 1992, she worked for the Wiley Rein & Fielding law firm in Washington, D.C.

The Wangs

Amy went to law school at Wake Forest University, where her brother was an undergraduate and where two of her supervising attorneys at Wiley Rein had gone to law school. After her first year of law school, she spent the summer in an international studies program in London. After her second year, she worked at the U.S. Department of Justice in environmental enforcement and considered joining the DOJ upon graduation. While in her 2L year, Amy met David Wang, her husband-to-be, through a law school classmate and fraternity brother of David’s at Davidson College. David was an English teacher at East Forsyth High School in Kernersville, and like Amy, he had moved a lot growing up because his father served in the U.S. Navy. Amy and David married the summer after she graduated from law school in 1996. Having worked for a large law firm in Washington, Amy and David decided to try a small town and moved to Reidsville, where Amy worked for Robinson, Murray & Apple, a firm with a general civil practice the origin of which was Sharp and Sharp, the law firm the first female North Carolina Supreme Court Justice, Susie Sharp, practiced in with her father.

Small town life in the Piedmont was not a fit for the Wangs, so Amy joined Ward and Smith in 2004 as a trusts and estates attorney in New Bern. There, she met the late Frank Sheffield, member of the section’s Legacy Society, soon after Frank left the Triangle to begin his practice at Ward and Smith. With a lingering love for environmental law from her days at the Justice Department, she volunteered to help Frank on an environmental project, and within a year, transferred to the firm’s environmental practice group, where she has practiced law ever since. Business North Carolina magazine named Amy to their 2020 Legal Elite Hall of Fame for environmental law and profiled her with a memorable photograph in the December 2020 issue.

Connor Wang swimming the butterfly stroke

Amy’s husband David is the Assistant Head of School and Director of Upper and Middle Schools at the Epiphany School of Global Studies in New Bern, where he also occasionally teaches high school English and coaches various sports. They have two children, Conner, age 20, and Emma, age 17. Conner is a rising sophomore at Queens University in Charlotte and swims for their NCAA Division 2 National Champion swim team. Emma, a busy rising senior at Epiphany, is a swimmer like her brother and is mulling an application to the U.S. Naval Academy, among others, for college.

Amy has been active in the NCBA for much of her environmental career. Being in New Bern, she joined the Coastal Concerns Committee of the section and served as co-chair. She also served as co-chair of the CLE Committee with Mary Katherine Stukes in 2017-2018, when Stanford Baird initiated the first efforts at a tristate conference with the environmental sections of the Georgia and South Carolina bar associations. After that, matriculating to the executive council was a breeze. Her goals as chair of the section are to resume in-person council meetings beginning in August and to hold the section’s second tristate conference in Asheville in 2022 with Georgia and South Carolina practitioners.

Profile by Rick Kolb, SynTerra Corp., Cary.