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5 W. Hargett St., Suite 208
Raleigh, NC 27601


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About John McWilliam

In the private practice of law since 1993

Practice Limited Exclusively to Criminal Defense

raleigh dwi lawyer

Born in Argentina, the son of a Scottish Father and an American Mother, John McWilliam’s family moved to England when he was eight. He was educated in England and Scotland. At the age of 19, John moved to North Carolina.

After dropping out of the University of Denver, John moved back to North Carolina and graduated from North Carolina State University in 1988. Two years later, after realizing that his corporate job wasn’t for him, John enrolled in North Carolina Central University’s School of Law. Central’s commitment to diversity, its strong clinic-centered approach to teaching and reputation for producing exceptional courtroom lawyers made it the perfect fit for John. He knew he wanted to be a trial lawyer. That was 1990. Three years later, he graduated with his law degree and passed the bar.

1993 was a terrible year for anyone looking for a job. So, working out of his home and painting houses to make ends meet, John began representing anyone who was willing to take a chance on him. What he lacked in experience John made up for in passion. It soon became apparent to him that his passion was for criminal defense. And it still is.

Criminal Defense, insists John, is the one area of the law that keeps the government in check, keeps the police honest, keeps all of us free, and keeps the Bill of Rights alive and relevant. It’s the area of the law that strives to maintain the ideals of Democracy, equality and liberty that the Founders of this country fought and died for.

In 1995, after two years of solo practice, John joined the law firm of highly-regarded Garner lawyer Joseph “Sandy” Calder as his partner to form the law firm of Calder & McWilliam. With Sandy’s thriving real estate practice and John’s emerging and ultimately booming criminal practice, Calder & McWilliam grew to a firm of five lawyers with the addition of Heyward Wall, Trinity Henderson and Ashley Moore.

In May of 2011, John, Trinity and Heyward branched out to form the law firm of McWilliam, Henderson & Wall. In December of 2014, John ended his partnership with Trinity and Heyward, and opened his solo practice – John McWilliam PLLC.

John’s practice is limited exclusively to criminal defense in North Carolina state courts. He is particularly motivated by the challenges of defending DWIs. DWI defense accounts for about 60% of John’s practice and DWIs provide the most interesting array of issues: constitutional, statutory, procedural and substantive.

John presents at continuing legal education classes on DWIs and is certified in the administration of standardized field sobriety testing. He is not a chemical analyst, because he’s not allowed to be, but he is in possession of North Carolina’s breath-testing machine owner’s manual, which is just as good, if not better. He is a member of all the usual associations.

John represents those charged with any and all felonies, misdemeanors, infractions and local code violations. In the private practice of law since 1993, John is proud to have built from nothing a thriving, reputable and respected criminal defense practice; to have established a firm with an impeccable reputation; and most of all, to have provided unparalleled, zealous and effective representation to so many people.