Martha Geer is a Partner at Cohen Milstein and head of the firm’s North Carolina office.  She joined the firm in May 2016 after a distinguished career on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. 

Judge Geer's background – almost two decades as a respected litigator and appellate advocate handling a range of complex civil litigation followed by more than 13 years as a rarely-reversed appellate judge – is a composite of experience few attorneys have and clients find of great value.

As a trial and appellate lawyer, Judge Geer works with clients across many of firm's litigation practice disciplines, including antitrust, securities fraud, ERISA, civil rights and employment law, consumer protection, as well as qui tam actions.

Judicial Experience

Judge Geer was first elected to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in 2002. In 2010, because of her reputation as a fair and impartial judge, she garnered strong bipartisan support that resulted in her winning re-election by a 20-point margin. 

During her tenure on the Court, Judge Geer heard more than 3,800 appeals, authored more than 1,350 opinions, and had her opinions reversed less than 2% of the time.  As one of the most experienced Court of Appeals judges, Judge Geer was responsible for hearing and deciding appeals on a wide variety of issues involving almost every area of law.  She also served on the Court's Executive Committee, which works with the Chief Judge in administration of the Court.  During her service on the Court, she was named Outstanding Appellate Judge by the North Carolina Advocates for Justice. 

 

Private Practice Experience

Prior to being elected to the bench, Judge Geer was a partner with two leading North Carolina plaintiffs' firms and was a founding member of the second firm.  She was a highly respected trial and appellate litigator, known for obtaining cutting-edge and precedent-setting victories in a diverse set of practice areas, including securities litigation, labor and employment law, ERISA, antitrust and trade regulation, commercial litigation, consumer protection, and constitutional and civil rights litigation.

As a private practice trial and appellate lawyer, she has been regularly recognized in The Best Lawyers in America, as well as Business North Carolina as one of North Carolina’s “Legal Elite.” Judge Geer began her legal career with Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison.  

As a part of her private practice, Judge Geer has done a substantial amount of pro bono work, including being part of a team that obtained a stay of execution on behalf of a mentally retarded man on death row who was subsequently shown to be innocent by DNA testing, once such testing finally became available.  That work led to her being one of the recipients of the 2004 Dybwad Humanitarian Award, the highest honor of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

As both a judge and a lawyer, Judge Geer has worked to improve the quality of legal representation through service on the Appellate Specialization Committee of the North Carolina State Bar, the Appellate Rules Committee of the North Carolina Bar Association, the Board of Governors of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, and various committees of the American Bar Association and other bar association groups. 

Judge Geer is a highly sought-after teacher of continuing education programs for both other judges and lawyers. 

Judge Geer received her B.A. summa cum laude from Bryn Mawr College and her J.D. with high honors from the University of North Carolina School of Law where she was a Morehead Fellow and served as Managing Editor of the North Carolina Law Review.

  • Judge, North Carolina Court of Appeals, 2003 – 2016
  • Founding Partner, Patterson, Harkavy & Lawrence, L.L.P., 1991 – 2002
  • Associate and Partner, Smith, Patterson, Follin, Curtis, James, Harkavy & Lawrence, 1986 – 1991
  • Associate, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP, 1983 – 1986
  • American Bar Association:  Member, Judicial Division and Litigation Section; Past Co-Chair of Ethics in Litigation Subcommittee of the Employee Rights and Responsibilities Committee
  • North Carolina Bar Association:  Member, Litigation, Antitrust & Complex Litigation, Appellate Practice, Constitutional Rights, and Labor & Employment Law Sections; Past Member, Appellate Rules Committee, Litigation Council, Labor & Employment Law Council, Constitutional Rights Council, and Trial Practice Curriculum Committee
  • North Carolina State Bar:  Founding member of Appellate Specialization Committee
  • North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers:  Member; past member, Board of Governors