Bettie Kelley Sousa


Bettie Kelley Sousa has practiced with Smith Debnam since becoming licensed in 1981. She has a wealth of experience in state and federal courts, including bankruptcy courts, at both trial and appellate levels. She represents mostly businesses — both large and small — in a variety of matters, including advising clients during business break-ups, contract drafting and review, and disputes involving sales of goods or services.

Bettie prides herself in efficiently finding peaceful resolutions for her clients. She is skilled at avoiding litigation and locking down agreements to avoid further disputes. But, if a case requires litigation, she is an accomplished trial lawyer, having represented both plaintiffs and defendants in her many years of practice. Since 1993, Bettie has been certified as a Creditors’ Rights Specialist by the American Board of Certification (ABC), for which she served as President and Chair, and remains an Emeritus Director.  Bettie is listed in The Best Lawyers in America© for Bankruptcy, Creditor Debtor Rights, Insolvency and Reorganization Law, and North Carolina Super Lawyers® for Business Litigation. She created and taught a course in Business Litigation at Wake Forest University School of Law.

  • North Carolina State Bar
  • North Carolina Courts: Supreme Court; Court of Appeals; Superior Courts; District Courts
  • Federal Courts: U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; U.S. District Courts and Bankruptcy Courts for the Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of North Carolina
  • J.D., Wake Forest University School of Law, 1981
  • A.B. in Eng. Ed., the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1978
  • Certified since 1993 as a Creditors’ Rights Specialist – American Board of Certification
Awards & Recognition Professional Affiliations
  • American Bar Association – Litigation Section; Business Law Section
  • American Board of Certification – Past Chair (2012), President (2011), President-Elect (2010), Treasurer (2009); Secretary (2008); Emeritus Director
  • North Carolina Bar Association; Business Law Section
  • Wake County Bar Association – Board of Directors (2 terms); Past President, Young Lawyers’ Division; Lawyers Support Committee
  • Primerus Law Society – Business Law Institute, Commercial Law Group
  • Fellow of the American Bar Foundation
Civic Involvement
  • St. Michael’s Episcopal Church: Lay Reader, former Sunday School Teacher
  • Community Advisory Board, Junior League of Raleigh
  • Wake Will Lead Campaign – Triangle Committee
  • Co-founder, UNC MJ-school Parents’ Council

  American Bar Association Fellows, Bettie K. Sousa  
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