Executive Leadership Team
General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer
Craig Burgess is a seasoned litigator and trial attorney, boasting over thirty years of experience and forty trials under his belt as first-chair counsel. He embarked on his legal journey in Charleston, South Carolina, ascending the ranks from an Associate to Partner at the national law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP. He adeptly defended corporate clients in complex cases involving product liability, premises liability, and general personal injury.
After over a decade of honing his skills at NMRS, Mr. Burgess was sought after for his expertise by BellSouth Corporation, where he transitioned to Senior Litigation Counsel in Atlanta, Georgia. His tenure at BellSouth and AT&T after their merger was marked by his strategic handling and defense of a multi-million dollar caseload, managing outside counsel, and conducting complex workplace investigations. After the merger of the two telecommunication giants, Burgess then took an eighteen-month sabbatical traveling extensively abroad, eventually returning to private practice in Charleston to work as Special Counsel with the law firm of Barnwell, Whaley, Patterson & Helms, LLC, specializing in the representation of local governments, universities, and school districts. This experience led him to his first job as General Counsel, taking on the role at South Carolina State University, where he was instrumental in the university’s navigation and handling many state, federal, regulatory, and accreditation challenges. For the last seven years, Mr. Burgess has served as General Counsel of Columbus State University, one of twenty-six institutions comprising the University System of Georgia. During his tenure as Columbus State’s first in-house counsel and as a member of the university’s executive leadership team, Burgess established and created the Division of Legal Affairs, Ethics & Compliance with direction and oversight of legal affairs, ethics, compliance, Title IX, risk management and information security.
A graduate of The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, Mr. Burgess was a four-year letterman on the varsity basketball team, voted the team’s most valuable player, and named to the Southern Conference All-Conference and All-Tournament squads during his senior year. He graduated from law school at the University of South Carolina School of Law, where during his final year, he was Captain of the American Bar Association Moot Court Team that won the ABA Southeastern Moot Court Championship, along with being the recipient of the Claude M. Sapp Award, designated as the law student possessing the “best combination of leadership, scholarship, and industry.”
Licensed to practice in South Carolina and Georgia, he is an active member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys, the Society for Corporate Compliance and Ethics, and a Certificate Holder with the American Association of Workplace Investigators.
Mr. Burgess is active in his community, serving currently as a board member of the United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley, a board member of the Columbus Ironworks Convention & Trade Center Authority, and a member of the 100 Black Men of Columbus. He is married to Rev. Dr. Adriane McGee, Senior Pastor at St. Mary’s Road United Methodist Church in Columbus, Georgia. Dr. Burgess proudly serves her country as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force Reserves. They have two boys–Craig Zachary and Thomas Zander.