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Tradition of Service

A tradition of service to the legal profession is the hallmark of the Poisson family. Five generations of Poissons have practiced law in North Carolina since 1857. Over the years, each attorney in our firm has embraced this tradition of service as a foundation for the practice of law.

A Tradition of Professionalism

Poisson Letter

Frederick D. Poisson, dated January 23, 1877. Mr. Poisson sent the letter to avoid the “unpleasantness and expense of a lawsuit.” The amount in dispute: $29.35.

The Poisson family enjoys a rich tradition of service. This tradition was exemplified by Louis Julien Poisson (1887-1961), grandfather to Frederick Davis Poisson, Jr. The North Carolina State Bar issued the following memorial to Louis Poisson on April 13, 1962:

Louis Julien Poisson, preeminent and distinguished member of the Bar since 1910, died at his home in Wilmington, N.C., on November 8, 1961, following a lengthy illness.

Mr. Poisson was born in Wilmington on July 24, 1887, the son of the late Louis Julien Poisson and Mannie Allen Poisson. He attended public schools in Wilmington, the Cape Fear Academy and Woodberry Forest School. He attended North Carolina State College and received his legal education at the Law School of the University of North Carolina.

Mr. Poisson was a member of the North Carolina General Assembly in 1923-24, and served as Special Assistant to the Attorney General of the United States in 1912-13.

He was devoted to the professional organizations of the Bar during his entire career and contributed most to their growth and development, having served as State Bar Councilor for his local district during the period of 1933-49, as: President of the North Carolina State Bar in 1951, the North Carolina Bar Association in 1946, and the New Hanover County Bar Association in 1928. He also served as a member of the House of Delegates of the America Bar Association until 1960, and as a member of the North Carolina Judicial Council.

Mr. Poisson was active in many community and civic organizations. He was an officer of the Kiwanis Club, the Y.M.C.A., the Community Chest, the Board of Trustees of the Wilmington Public Library, and on the Boards of the Cape Fear Club, the Cape Fear Country Club, and the Carolina Yacht Club, the Surf Club and the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce. He served as Chairman of Civil Defense for New Hanover County during World War II. During his college days, he was a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity.

Through the Davis branch of his family, his law firm affiliation dates back to the days of his great uncle, George Davis, Attorney General of the Confederacy. At the time of his passing, he was the senior member of the law firm of Poisson, Marshall, Barnhill and Williams, and had practiced in years past with such leaders of the bar – now deceased – as Thomas W. Davis, Judge George Rountree, James O. Carr and Williams B. Campbell.

He was outstanding both as a legal scholar and as an advocate. For many years his firm had served as division counsel for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and he was Vice-President and General Counsel for Tidewater Power Company before its merger with Carolina Power and Light Company.

Mr. Poisson practiced according to the highest ethical standards, and he leaves an outstanding example for others to follow.

Many members of the Bar throughout Southeastern North Carolina recall with deep gratitude how he so often helped them in the early years of their practice by referring work to them or by associating them with him on various matters, and how wiling he was to give them sound advice when they needed it.

Among his primary interests were: the improvement of educational standards for admission to the Bar, continuing educational programs for practicing attorneys, and rigid enforcement of the Canons of Ethics. He continued to be a student of the law throughout his professional career, and he was never too busy to help younger members of the Bar in their quest for knowledge of the law and its practiced application.

His ever present willingness to devote his time and talent to the improvement of the Bar and the fostering of its highest ideals will forever remain a monument to his life as a lawyer and an American.

Mr. Poisson is survived by two sons, Louis J. Poisson, Jr. of Wilmington, also a member of the Bar, and Frederick D. Poisson, of Greensboro, and a daughter, Mrs. Gethyn Poisson Lloyd, of Hartford, Connecticut.

Louis Poisson’s grandfather was Frederick Davis Poisson, after whom Frederick Davis Poisson, Sr. and Frederick Davis Poisson, Jr. were named. The original Frederick Davis Poisson practiced law in Wilmington from 1857 until his death in 1881. While the Bar memorial does not state this, Louis Poisson was a charter member of the North Carolina State Bar in its inaugural class of 1933.

Louis Poisson’s great great grandfather was also named Louis Julien Poisson and was physician to King Louis XVI. He left France during the French Revolution for Santo Domingo. He lived there with his family until the uprising there and then fled to Augusta, Georgia briefly before settling in Wilmington, North Carolina in the early 1800’s.

Frederick Davis Poisson, Sr. was State Bar Councilor for Anson, Richmond, Stanly and Union Counties (District 20) for three terms from 1997 to 2005. Frederick Davis Poisson, Jr. was elected State Bar Councilor for the same district (later District 20A when Union County was removed) and served three terms from 2006 to 2014. Elizabeth “Stewart” Poisson, Fred Jr.’s daughter, has been appointed to the Ethics Committee of the State Bar four times as an ad hoc member. Stewart has also served as the Chair of the Workers’ Rights’ Committee of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice. Frederick Davis Poisson, III, Fred Jr.’s son, has served as the Chair of the Consumer Protection Committee for two years. Stewart served on the North Carolina Advocates for Justice Board of Governors from 2012 to 2017, and Davis served from 2016 to 2018.

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