Margaret Shea Burnham concentrates her practice in the areas of commercial real estate transactions and litigation. She is a Board Certified Specialist in Real Property Law: Business, Commercial, and Industrial Transactions by the North Carolina State Bar and is a member of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers.

Margaret recently received the James E. Cross, Jr. Leadership Award from the North Carolina State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. The award is given to a certified specialist who has taken an active leadership role in his/her practice area through presentations at CLE seminars, scholarly writings, participation in groundbreaking cases, or service to an established professional organization.

Margaret received her J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law where she served as Research Editor of the Wake Forest Law Review. While in law school, she also was a member of the Moot Court Team and was selected to be in the Order of Barristers.

Community & Professional

  • American Bar Association
  • Greensboro Bar Association
  • North Carolina Bar Association
    • Real Property Section, Chair, 1999-2000
  • American College of Real Estate Lawyers
  • American College of Mortgage Attorneys

Outside Maynard Nexsen

"My kids both race, so skiing is my world."

"I'm taking my daughter to Zermatt, Switzerland for a racing clinic. Both of my daughters have been skiing since they were each five years old. They've been racing since my oldest was 8 or 9. They are both downhill Alpine racers- slalom and GS. We're just crazy about it, and that's what we do all winter. I bring my files and my laptop to the ski lodges, and I work and they race. It's been an incredibly fun sport for our whole family, though my kids are much better and faster than I am, and they leave me in the powder. They say 'We'll meet you at the bottom, Mom.'  If they qualify for NASTAR nationals, I take them out West for the national competition." 


  • Board Certified Specialist in Real Property Law: Business, Commercial, and Industrial Transactions by the North Carolina State Bar
  • NCDRC Certified Superior Court Mediator
  • North Carolina "Super Lawyer" for Real Estate Law (2006-2008, 2010-2011)
  • "Legal Elite" in Real Estate Law by Business North Carolina (2008, 2009)
  • Best Lawyers in America - Real Estate Law; Litigation - Real Estate since 2007
  • American College of Real Estate Lawyers
  • American College of Mortgage Attorneys
  • Eighteenth Judicial District of North Carolina State Bar, 2003-2006 - Councilor
  • Women in Business Award, Class of 2006 ("The Business Journal")
  • Greensboro Bar Association - Chairperson, Young Lawyers Division (1987 - 1988)
  • North Carolina Bar Association - Real Property Section Council, First Female Chair, 1999-2000, Litigation Section Council, Former Member Board of Governors
  • Adjunct Professor at Wake Forest University School of Law (Fall 2017), Real Estate Finance


  • Listed in Business North Carolina magazine as "Legal Elite" in Real Estate, 2022, 2023, and 2024
  • James E. Cross, Jr. Leadership Award recipient, North Carolina State Bar Board of Legal Specialization, 2014
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America for "Lawyer of the Year" for Litigation-Real Estate in the Triad in 2014, 2016, 2020, 2022, and 2024
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America for Litigation-Real Estate and Real Estate Law, Since 2007
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Peer Rated for Highest Level of Professional Excellence


  • COVID-19 Checklist: Issues to Consider for Commercial Real Estate Purchase Contracts and Closings, August 28, 2020
  • Margaret presented to the North Carolina Land Title Association (NCLTA) in September of 2019. She spoke on practice tips for commercial real estate closings, economic incentives for North Carolina real estate projects, and wire scams that impact closings and company assets. Click here to view the full presentation.
  • Margaret participated in the Past Chairs' Panel at the NC Bar Association's 2019 Real Property Section Annual Meeting on May 16, 2019 at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort.  Margaret compiled a 40 year retrospective of the Real Property Section for the meeting, linked here
  • On May 1, 2019 Margaret presented to the Raleigh Triangle Area Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel on "Commercial Closings Tips: Be Prepared for your Company's Next Closing."
  • Margaret Burnham co-authored the 2018-2019 supplement to Thompson Reuter's book titled North Carolina Real Estate with Forms, Third edition (Vol. 1). 
  • Negotiating Title Commitments by Burnham, Palecek and Ferguson (CLE paper), August 2018. Read the full paper here.  
  • Negotiating Title Commitments by Burnham, Palecek and Ferguson (PPT), August 2018. View the PPT here.  
  • Things I never knew I never knew...A real estate attorney's adventure in learning (the hard way) what brokers know, August 1, 2018
  • In August 2016, Margaret Shea Burnham and Erin Cowan authored and presented "Commercial Real Estate Purchase Agreements: Agreeing to Disagree." Read the full paper here.
  • In December 2015, Margaret Burnham and Erin Cowan presented a course entitled "First Aid for POAs: Tips for preventing and repairing mistakes in planned communities."  You can find more information and link to the manuscript here.
  • In September 2005, Margaret Shea Burnham authored A Rose by Any Other Name: Is Your Contract Really a Contract?  This manuscript looks at whether a “paper writing” is only a non-binding letter of intent  or a binding agreement.  Surprisingly, what may be intended as a non-binding letter of intent may, in fact, have sufficient material terms to be binding and enforceable. Sometimes the reverse is the case – an agreement intended to be binding is determined to be nothing more than an “agreement to agree.”  A separate issue is whether certain terms can be binding in a non-binding letter of intent (such as a confidentiality clause or a “no shop” clause). In this context, it becomes readily apparent how difficult it would be to interpret a “good faith” clause.  The manuscript includes drafting tips to tilt your agreement in the direction intended (binding or non-binding).
  • In April 2008, Margaret Shea Burnham updated a manuscript previously (published in 2003) entitled Caveat Emptor and the Disgruntled Buyer.  North Carolina has traditionally imposed a “caveat emptor” or “buyer beware” standard in the context of purchase agreements.  This manuscript looks at cases that usually leave the buyer to blame when something goes wrong - provided that the buyer had a reasonable opportunity to conduct due diligence.  The manuscript includes a “due diligence” checklist regarding the status of the real property.
  • In September 2009, Margaret Shea Burnham authored Contractual Conumdrums. This manuscript includes drafting lessons and tips in real estate contracts – an assortment of conundrums encountered by the author in her practice.


  • State Bar: North Carolina
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What is your philosophy on client service?

To try to see the problem from my client's eyes and solve as though it were my risk and my money at stake. 

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