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About Our Firm

Background & Philosophy

Our law practice is limited to the representation of individual consumers in Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. We are located in Shelby, North Carolina, the seat of the Shelby Division of the United States Bankruptcy Court. We have served the bankruptcy and consumer protection needs of individuals throughout western North Carolina since 1978. Mr. Gardner is admitted to practice in every level of the North Carolina and federal court system.

Max believes that his practice is distinguished by his continued dedication to his client's case even after the Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 case has been filed. The attorneys personally return all telephone calls from clients on a timely basis and continually review open files for creditor compliance with the bankruptcy laws and other consumer protection statutes. The firm aggressively pursues claims against any creditors and collection agents who fail to comply with these rules and regulations designed to protect you and your rights.

All clients are treated with integrity and respect for their needs, goals, and objectives—just as how Max would expect to be treated if he were the client. We listen to and communicate with our clients in order to provide them with the best legal representation possible.

Front Office Entrance of the Webbley

Community History

Previously, our office was located at Webbley, the Gardner's 150-year-old family home in Shelby's National Trust Historic District. Webbley is designated as a National Historic Landmark and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982. Max and his family have a long tradition of serving our community. Max is the grandson of Oliver Max Gardner, who served as State Senator, Lieutenant Governor, and Governor of North Carolina, Under Secretary of the United States Treasury and United States Ambassador to Great Britain. I am the grandnephew of Clyde Roark Hoey, who was a member of the United States House of Representatives, Governor of North Carolina, and a United States Senator from North Carolina. Although Max is not directly involved in politics, he shares his family's dedication to serving the people of North Carolina. The firm only represent individuals not corporations.

Max's History as a Consumer Bankruptcy Attorney

Max's interest in bankruptcy and consumer protection is the result of living in a community that was once thriving through the textile industry. With the diminishment of that industry, he have seen the individuals in my community suffer an unemployment rate of fourteen percent, which has consistently been among the highest in the country. With unemployment at this rate, individuals in the community cannot help finding themselves in financial hardship and oftentimes with no alternative but to seek relief and protection from their creditors under the Federal Bankruptcy Laws.

When Max isn't working for his own clients, he's teaching other bankruptcy attorneys across the country the best way to protect their clients. Attorneys can about his  Bankruptcy Boot Camp here.


O. Max Gardner III


O. Max Gardner, III is perhaps the best known consumer bankruptcy attorney in the United States. His position on the front lines of the war against predatory lenders and mortgage servicers has captured the attention of ABC Nightline News, CNN, BusinessWeek, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and many other news outlets across the country. More importantly, it’s captured the attention of unethical lenders, servicers and collectors.

Max’s highly effective use of the bankruptcy courts and the full array of available consumer protection statutes has enabled him to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars for clients who have been victimized by bad-faith lenders, inappropriate fees, discharge violations, and more. Max has been the lead attorney of record in many landmark cases, creating consumer-friendly precedent. For the past three years, through his Bankruptcy Bootcamp, Max has been training motivated consumer attorneys from across the country to join in his battle against the lenders, creditors, mortgage servicers and collectors who profit from unethical practices and illegal fees.

Max received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1969 and graduated with high honors from the UNC School of Law in 1974, where he was a member of the North Carolina Law Review, President of the Student Bar Foundation, named the Outstanding Law School Graduate of 1974, and elected to the Order of the Coif. Following graduation he served as the Senior Law Clerk to the Hon. William H. Bobbitt, the late Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, and as Senior Law Clerk to the Hon. William Copeland, an Associate Justice of that Court. During his work with Justice Copeland, he also worked closely with Chief Justice Susie Sharp, the first female Chief Justice of any state Supreme Court.

Following his clerkships, Max worked for three years with the Smith Moore law firm in Greensboro, North Carolina. His primary working partner at Smith Moore was the legendary J. McNeill Smith, Jr. He later served as Treasurer in Smith’s 1978 campaign for the United States Senate.

Max served as General Counsel of North Carolina’s Democratic Party from 1986 to 1992. He was a standing member of the Democratic Leadership Conference during this period of time. During these years, he also managed his law practice in Shelby, which opened in 1977. He also acted as “Of Counsel” to the Washington, D.C. law firm of Sims Walker & Steinfeld from 1992 to 1996.

During his Washington years, Max worked on thousands of cases involving the Federal Trade Commission, the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Bankruptcy Code. Max was Special Counsel to Chapter 7 Trustees in this litigation and in one emergency case personally filed more than 1,000 adversary proceedings in one week so as to protect the Trustee from statute of limitation issues.

During his years of practice, Max has tried 102 jury cases to a final verdict. He was successful in all but 2 of those cases, one of which he retried and won.


University of North Carolina School of Law
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1974
Honors: Graduated with Honors
Honors: Named to Order of Coif
Honors: Class Rank 8/245
Honors: Chief Justice Walter Clark Award
Honors: Pi Delta Phi - Outstanding Law Graduate of 1974
Honors: President, UNC Student Bar Foundation
Honors: Member, Morehead Law Fellowship Selection Committee
Law Review: North Carolina Law Review

University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
Honors: Dean's List; 3.25 Average
Major: Political Science

Bar Admissions

North Carolina, 1974

U.S. Bankruptcy Court

U.S. District Court Western District of North Carolina, 1974

U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit, 1974

U.S. Supreme Court, 2002

U.S. District Court Middle District of North Carolina, 1974

U.S. District Court Eastern District of North Carolina, 1974

O. Max Gardner III's writing includes articles for The Shelby Star, The Charlotte Observer, and The Raleigh News & Observer.

Published Works

In addition to notes and articles that have been published in the North Carolina Law Review and written materials prepared and published by various legal organizations and associations for seminars and other legal courses of study, regular articles have also been written for and published by North Carolina Lawyers' Weekly, The Journal of the North Carolina Bar Association, The North Carolina State Bar, and The Mecklenburg County Bar. Such recent articles include but are not limited to the following: When I Die I Want To Go To Heaven, But I Hear They Don't Let Lawyers In!; The Joke's On All Of Us; Lawyer Lies; A New Federal Marshal in Town; The Election of Judges; and Card Sharks.


The quality of Max's representation is reflected by my "AV." rating in Martindale-Hubbell. Martindale-Hubbell has published an "AV" rating from data compiled from lawyers and judges who participate in the rating process for this nationwide organization. The legal ability ratings are A, B, and C with the rating "A" being designated as "very high." The general recommendations rating "V" (very high) embraces faithful adherence to ethical standards, professional reliability and diligence, and other relevant factors. The "AV" combined rating is the very highest lawyer rating published by this Company, which has published ratings for lawyers for over one hundred years.

Max is rated as a "Top Rated Bankruptcy Attorney in Shelby, NC" by Super Lawyers. Max also has the highest possible ranking, a 10.0 by AVVO.

He has received multiple awards from the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and is a regular speaker at their conferences.

Significant Cases

Matthew McKee

Coming Soon


Contact Us

The questions and answers above are just a small sample of what you need to know. Feel free to contact us with any other questions by calling (704) 487-0616 or by using the form on the right.

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