Campbell Law alumni among 2024 TBJ 40 Under 40 winners

Photo of Michael Crook '12, Paul Yokabitus '13, George Burnette '13 and Taylor Scruggs-Smith '18

RALEIGH — The Triangle Business Journal (TBJ) has named four Campbell Law School alumni among the 2024 40 top business leaders under the age of 40 in the region. 

Michael Crook ’12, Paul Yokabitus ’13, George Burnette ’13 and Taylor Scruggs-Smith ’18 are among those selected by a panel of the TBJ’s executive team for their impact on Raleigh’s business and civic community. 

For the 24th year, the 40 Under 40 Awards honor 40 rising stars in the local business world who have distinguished themselves in their companies, their communities and their industries — all before their 40th birthday. These young professionals are executives, innovators and entrepreneurs who represent the region’s next generation of business leaders.

They will be honored along with the other award winners at an event on Wednesday, June 12, at Fletcher Hall in Raleigh.

As a partner at Parker Poe, Crook focuses his practice on eminent domain and real estate litigation, where he represents governmental, business, and professional clients in all phases of state and federal litigation, from pre-dispute resolution through appeal. In eminent domain work, Crook regularly represents municipalities, government agencies, transportation authorities, utilities, and other condemnors in a variety of settings, ranging from small takings to large, high-profile projects. He also represents commercial landowners in condemnation proceedings brought by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. According to his firm’s website, “His experience representing both condemnors and landowners gives him a well-rounded perspective, which he uses to help clients identify potential sticking points and reach resolutions.”

As chair of Parker Poe’s pro bono committee, Crook is actively involved and coordinates pro bono cases across all eight of the firm’s offices. He devotes his time by representing neglected and abused juveniles before North Carolina’s appellate courts through the Guardian ad Litem program and by representing low-income individuals through Legal Aid of North Carolina.

In 2024, Crook was named one of the Best Lawyers of America in eminent domain and condemnation law, as well as in real estate litigation. He also served as a member of the North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society for four years.

Yokabitus currently serves as an estate planning attorney, and is the founder of multiple estate planning and personal services firms in North Carolina including Cary Estate Planning, PlanWell Legal, Cary Financial Planning, Discovery Legal Marketing and Cary Tax Planning.

Cary Estate Planning opened in 2018 and grew rapidly. He currently has seven attorneys and 31 team members across four offices in the Triangle. According to his LinkedIn page, Cary Estate Planning “provides comprehensive estate planning and probate services throughout the state of North Carolina. Cary Estate Planning is the top-rated estate planning law firm in North Carolina and has made the Law Firm 500 list multiple times for being one of the fastest growing law firms in the United States”

Yokabitus has received numerous honors and awards during his career, including Legal Elite 2019 for Tax and Estate Planning, he was named the Maggy Award winner for the best attorney in the Western Wake County in 2018, he was also the runner up for the Maggy Award as the best attorney in the Western Wake in 2019. 

Burnette is currently vice president and Charitable and Philanthropic Strategist at First Citizens Bank. In this role, Burnette provides in-depth advice on wealth management and analysis to clients focusing on complex cash flow, tax, estate, business transitions and charitable strategies.

Burnette serves as a member of the Campbell Law Alumni Association Board and teaches an adjunct professor at Campbell’s School of Business. In 2019, he was among a group of Campbell Law alumni who were sworn in to the U.S. Supreme Court Bar.

Scruggs-Smith joined the Whitaker & Hamer PLLC team in 2019. She focuses her practice on family law although she assists greatly with real estate transactions coming through the firm’s various offices. Typically, she works out of the Garner office though she travels to Raleigh and Fuquay-Varina as well. Scruggs-Smith handles family law cases such as absolute divorce, separation agreement negotiations, prenuptials agreements and Free Traders and also conducts real estate closings and reviews title work. 

Originally from the Washington, D.C., Metro area, Scruggs-Smith relocated to North Carolina in 2011 to attend Campbell University, where she graduated from in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in political science before graduating from Campbell Law in 2018, according to her firm’s website. When not working,  she can be found with either a supernatural mystery book in her hands or attached to Disney+ watching classic Disney movies. Additionally, she loves dogs and is a big advocate for animal rescue. She has her own fur family members, a German Shepherd rescue named Luna and a German Shepherd/Retriever mix rescue named Zoro. In August 2022, Scruggs-Smith was promoted to Administrative and Marketing Director for the firm. While she continues to maintain her own family law case load, she now further manages day-to-day operations and the marketing team.

She has been named among Super Lawyers: North Carolina Rising Star (2024) and Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America (2024).


Since its founding in 1976, Campbell Law has developed lawyers who possess moral conviction, social compassion, and professional competence, and who view the law as a calling to serve others. Among its accolades, the school has been recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) as having the nation’s top Professionalism Program and by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers for having the nation’s best Trial Advocacy Program. Campbell Law boasts more than 4,800 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. Throughout 2024, Campbell Law is celebrating 45 years of graduating legal leaders and 15 years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.