A Trailblazer Takes a Bow

Linda Miles

By Nicolette Fulton

Linda Miles is humble about the remarkable impact she has made on the practice of law in North Carolina. She constantly looks to find success, for her clients and for others, and she is a beacon of light for all. Her professionalism, quiet excellence and demonstration of strength over her 50-year career are goals every attorney should strive to achieve.

Linda has represented local governments for over 50 years. She recently retired as the attorney for the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA), where she served for 15 years. Before CFPUA, Linda served the City of Greensboro for over 30 years, including her role as City Attorney from 1999 through 2007. Linda was the first woman appointed to the position of City Attorney in North Carolina. Her other notable service for local governments includes representing the towns of Granite Quarry, Rockwell, and Faith, as well as the Rowan County Department of Social Services.

Linda holds two degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 1970 and a Juris Doctor in 1973, one of only eight women in her class. She has authored “Public Employer and Due Process” for the Employment Law Journal and multiple publications for the North Carolina Bar Association. Linda was a force in the creation of and served as the first chair of the Government & Public Sector Section of the North Carolina Bar Association and served on the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Association of Municipal Attorneys.

While in Greensboro in the 1970s, she was at the epicenter of the beginning of the environmental law practice, managing the city’s obligations and environmental groups when the EPA began issuing the first water discharge permits in the United States to the textile industry — the heart of Greensboro’s economy. As a result, Linda became an expert environmental attorney. Later as the Greensboro City Attorney, she faced challenging environmental matters; difficult litigation arising from community-police relations; downtown reconstruction and revival; the demise of the textile and tobacco industries that had supported Greensboro’s economy; and the completion of a new water source for Greensboro’s future (the Randleman Dam).

When Linda joined CFPUA, she was instrumental in growing the nascent water and sewer authority, a position she initially thought would be a smooth transition to retirement. During her tenure, she guaranteed that CFPUA was protected under state and federal orders and pursued intense litigation on behalf of the authority. Fifteen years later, after working as the authority attorney and traversing new and emerging environmental issues like no other, she reached her “almost real retirement” this year. CFPUA Executive Director Kenneth Waldroup shared that he was “constantly amazed by the wealth of knowledge, the depth of compassion, and unwavering commitment she brought to her role every day. CFPUA would not have been successful these last 15 years without her.”

Linda has relentlessly fought on behalf of her clients, navigating the complexities and intricacies required to ensure that her clients’ rights are protected, and the best possible result can be achieved. Yet, the stories of Linda’s countless accomplishments do not come from her but from those who have known and worked with her for years, particularly two of her closest friends and colleagues — George House of Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard LLP, and Dan McLawhorn, who retired after his own long stints as a leading environmental lawyer from both the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office and the City of Raleigh. On the occasion of Linda’s retirement, George House delivered an “Ode to Honor Linda Miles,” in which he said the following about Linda’s half-century career, “Throughout all of these times, Linda has been the consummate Municipal Attorney. She has managed extraordinary problems with intelligence, thoughtfulness, and perseverance. I have not known (and in practice I have known many) a better Municipal Attorney. Our State is better because of Linda’s service.”

The author, Nicolette Fulton, is the immediate successor to Linda Miles as Authority Attorney for the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority. Linda Miles is pictured.