Karen Rabenau
Of Counsel


Karen Rabenau is a versatile and dedicated civil litigator, representing clients in many areas of civil litigation – business litigation, professional negligence, and catastrophic injury and wrongful death matters. Prior to joining SMVT as counsel, Karen was a partner with Twiggs Strickland & Rabenau in Research Triangle Park, where she practiced for twenty-six years. Karen’s litigation experience encompasses a wide range of tort cases, including unfair and deceptive trade practices and theft of intellectual property on behalf small business owners, and medical and professional negligence, electrocution, vehicular negligence and premises liability matters on behalf of individuals and estates.

Karen is an AV Preeminent rated attorney in Martindale-Hubbell, listed as a North Carolina Super Lawyer, and recognized in Best Lawyers in America.

A longstanding member of the North Carolina Bar Association, Karen currently serves on the Board of Governors, and as a member of the Audit & Finance Committee. As chair of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Litigation Section, Karen strove to innovate council meetings, convening at our state’s law schools to connect current and future litigators. While serving for two years as Chair of the Bar Association’s Medico–Legal Liaison Committee, Karen produced an educational video for physicians, to practically illustrate the North Carolina Medical Legal Guidelines, and promote understanding about day-to-day situations in which the worlds of physicians and attorneys often intersect and sometimes collide. Karen also serves on the North Carolina Bar Foundation Board of Governors, and as a member of the Audit & Finance Committee. Karen has also served on the Board of Governors of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, and within the organization held roles ranging from annual convention chair, founding member and later chair of the Young Lawyers Division, to chair of the Professional Negligence section.

In the community, Karen serves as a trustee at Durham Academy, a local independent school, and most recently a two-year commitment as chair of the board of trustees. At Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art, Karen is vice chair of the Friends Board; has served as a board member at Caring House, a local non-profit devoted to housing for cancer patients at Duke Cancer Center; and can also regularly be found in the kitchen at Urban Ministries of Durham.

While at UNC Law School, Karen was one of two students in her second-year class to be chosen as a member of the Holderness Moot Court National Team. During her undergraduate studies at Hollins College, Karen was a Hollins Scholar and elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Karen and her husband David and their children are curious travelers, enthusiastic cooks, and avid runners. They may be spotted most weekends on Duke’s Al Buehler trail with their children and dog in tow.

Civil Litigation
Serious Personal Injury & Wrongful Death
Business Torts
Professional Negligence

Hollins College, B.A., 1989 Phi Beta Kappa
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, J.D., 1992

North Carolina, 1992

U.S. District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina, 1992
U.S. District Court, Middle District of North Carolina, 1993
U.S. District Court, Western District of North Carolina, 1994
U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, 1994

North Carolina Bar Association
Board of Governors, 2018 – Present
Audit & Finance Committee, 2018-Present
Litigation Section Council, Chair, 2016-2017
Litigation Section Council, Vice-Chair, 2015-2016
Committee on Judicial Independence, 2014-2018
Litigation Section Council, Secretary, 2014-2015
Litigation Section Council, Treasurer, 2013-2014
Litigation Section Council, Ethics Co-Chair, 2009-2013
Chair, Medico-Legal Liaison Committee, 2006-2008
Medico-Legal Liaison Committee, 2002-2012
Law Week Committee, 1997-2005
Chair, Law Day Poster Art Committee, 1997-2005
Child Advocacy Committee, 1996-1998

North Carolina Bar Foundation
Board of Governors, 2018-Present
Audit & Finance Committee, 2018-Present

North Carolina Advocates for Justice
(Formerly, The North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers)
President’s Club Member
Board of Governors, 1999-2005 and 2007-2010
Education Committee, 1999-2002
Personnel Committee, 2001-2002
Chair, Professional Negligence Section, 2001-2002
Education Chair, Professional Negligence Section, 1999-2001
Secretary, Professional Negligence Section, 2000-2001
Founding Member, Young Lawyers Division
Chair, Young Lawyers Division, 1997-1998
Secretary, Young Lawyers Division, 1996-1997

American Association for Justice
(Formerly, The Association of Trial Lawyers of America)
Legal Affairs Committee, 2006-2007
New Lawyer’s Division Board of Governors, 2002-2003
Co-Chair Student Trial Advocacy Committee, 1998-2000
Student Trial Advocacy Committee, 1996-2006
Regional Coordinator, Student Trial Advocacy Competition, 2001
Regional Coordinator, Student Trial Advocacy Competition, 1997
Co-Chair, Publications Committee, 1998-1999
Publications Committee, 1998-2001

Wake County Bar Association
Public Service Committee, 1997-1998
Fundraising Committee, Courthouse Kids Center, 1997

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