Nikole loves to win. Her competitive drive may be the reason she became a litigator, but she has built long-standing, trusting relationships with her clients because she is also reliable, detail-oriented, and dedicated to keeping up with the ever-changing legal landscape of her niche practice area.
Over the span of her 20-year career, Nikole has represented insurers and employers in litigation involving employee benefit plans. She has extensive experience litigating claims that are governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), as well as in complex litigation involving myriad individual insurance policies and annuities subject to state law regulation.
The clients Nikole regularly serves are leaders in the industry of life, health, disability and other insurance products. She works closely with in-house legal teams and business clients to achieve success in litigation and mediation across the mid-Atlantic. Nikole is on a team of Womble Bond Dickinson lawyers that serves as regional counsel for several large insurance companies.
When she is not focusing on the ideal litigation strategy for each client’s case-specific needs, Nikole values participating in charitable endeavors with the Atlanta Bar Association and serving on the board of the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers. Nikole also enjoys providing pro bono legal representation for families seeking assistance with adoptions by stepparents.
Any result the lawyer or law firm may have achieved on behalf of clients in other matters does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.
- Intervened on behalf of small business owner to secure emergency injunctive relief against bank/lender that seized tax-qualified retirement account containing employee contributions.
- Defended real estate partnership against discrimination claims brought by disgruntled employee under Americans with Disabilities Act and Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
- Obtained summary judgment on key issue regarding burden of proof and burden shifting for carve-out conditions in limited benefit provisions common to group disability insurance policies issued to employers (upheld on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit).
- Assisted entrepreneurs with negotiation of resigning team member’s severance package in a manner that achieved their dual goals of protecting future company profits and providing a key employee with fair compensation for contributions that would not generate profits until after the employment relationship ended. ·
- Established insurer’s right to rescind key-man life insurance as a matter of law based on material misrepresentations in company president’s application for insurance.
- Prevailed at trial on complex claims asserted by former insured under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1984 (COBRA), and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).
Professional & Civic Engagement
- Atlanta Bar Association
- Defense Research Institute: Life, Health and Disability Committee
- Georgia State University College of Law Graduate Health Law Network
- Georgia Association for Women Lawyers, Board of Directors (Co-Chair, Leadership Committee, 2015-2017; Co-Chair, Programs Committee, 2017-2018; Co-Chair, Special Events Committee 2018-2022; Co-Chair, Membership Committee, 2022-2023)
- American Bar Association: Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Sections (social media Vice-Chair & Technology Vice-Chair to the Life, Health & Disability Insurance General Committee for the 2021-22 bar year; Membership Vice-Chair to the Life, Health & Disability Insurance General Committee for the 2022-2023 bar year)
- Presenter, 6th Annual Employee Benefits Law Section Seminar, State Bar of Georgia Conference Center, March 20, 2015
- Co-author: “ERISA and the Attorney-Client Privilege: Understanding the Fiduciary Exception,” Employee Benefit Plan Review, August 2014
- Presenter, 5th Annual Employee Benefits Law Section Seminar, State Bar of Georgia Conference Center, April 2, 2014
- Co-author: “Conformity and Choice of Law Provisions in ERISA Plan Documents”, International Association of Defense Counsel Insurance and Reinsurance Committee Newsletter, January 2013
- Co-author: “Employee Benefits – Do They Vest? What are the Consequences?”, Insurance and Reinsurance Committee Newsletter, International Association of Defense Counsel, February 2012
- Guest lecturer on ERISA Litigation, Georgia State University College of Law, Health Law: Liability and Bioethics, November 14 & 16, 2011
- Co-author: “With Death Benefits, Don’t Count on Divorce Decrees”, Law 360 Insurance Law, May 2, 2011
- Presenter, Handling Disability Insurance Claims (ERISA and non-ERISA) Seminar, State Bar of Georgia Conference Center, March 2009
- Author: “When Can Plaintiffs (and Even Defendants) Recover Attorney’s Fees in ERISA Cases?”, DRI ERISA REPORT, Volume 3, Issue 2, Defense Research Institute, December 12, 2008
- Contributing author: “ERISA Survey of Federal Circuits,” American Bar Association, 2007
- Author: “Preserving the Edge: The Use of Surveillance Evidence in Disability Litigation”, For The Defense, Defense Research Institute, March 2006
- Contributing author: “ERISA Survey of Federal Circuits,” American Bar Association, 2005