From Big Law to Foreign Assets Chrishon McManus ’14L—attorney and competitive swimmer—radiates calm when it counts.
“I’ve focused on finding projects that will target the city’s poor areas.”
~ Chrishon McManus ’14L
If he weren’t a lawyer, Chrishon McManus ’14L thinks he’d probably be a fighter pilot. That was at the top of the list of what he wanted to be when he was growing up in a single-parent household with his mother and younger sister in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Why a fighter pilot? “Well, it’s cool,” McManus said. “So there’s that.”
But there’s more. McManus is not only a self-professed-thrill-seeker but also somewhat of a lone wolf. And then there’s the Chuck Yeager factor.
As a member of Air Force JROTC at North Mecklenburg High School and a Civil Air Patrol cadet, McManus heard the stories about Yeager, the record-setting test pilot who first broke the sound barrier.
“Everyone on the ground kept remarking how insanely calm Yeager was even as he was going that fast,” McManus said. “I aspire to display that kind of calm even when everything is moving fast or going crazy around me.”
Ultimately, McManus chose a career in law, where he’s found such preternatural calm can both help and hinder. “Although I can get a little anxious when confronting a new or completely novel issue, I’m able to set that aside to focus on solving the problem in situations where I see others freeze up as the problem grows,” McManus said.
“On the other hand, sometimes these displays of calm can come across as cavalier or disengaged,” he added. “I’ve had more than one boss describe me as ‘laidback,’ and I still don’t know if that was a compliment. Clients can be surprised when I don’t display the level of panic, confusion or frustration that they are exhibiting at that moment.”
McManus is currently counsel for Charlotte-based Allspring Global Investments. He majored in political science at George Washington University and was choosing between Wake Forest and W&L for law school. During his visit to W&L, McManus was startled when a young woman waved and said hello as they passed on the campus.
“I was in my D.C. mentality and was taken aback,” he said. “I wondered why this person was talking to me. What did she want?” Then he remembered reading about W&L’s Speaking Tradition. “I thought, ‘Oh, wow, that actually is a thing.’”
McManus said W&L Law prepared him better than he even realized at the time. He was among the first dozen students in the D.C. Externship program, and his placement with the Securities Exchange Commission has been pivotal to his career.
“The program exposed me to an esoteric area of law in investment management. Not a lot of people practice this kind of law or even understand it,” he said. “My SEC experience provided not only knowledge others didn’t have but also important contacts.”
After three and a half years in Los Angeles as associate counsel for Cetera Financial Group, McManus and his wife, Claire, wanted to return to the East Coast.
He knew he needed experience in Big Law—a blanket term for large, prestigious firms—to open doors, and spent three years as an associate with firms in Washington, D.C., and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, before landing the in-house position with Allspring.
Among McManus’s current challenges at Allspring is serving as the primary attorney to deal with complex issues created by sanctions placed on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine. He advises the firm’s chief anti-money- laundering officer and team on the disposition of securities, which includes determining the correct valuation methodology of Russian securities.
“It’s an unprecedented situation, which has been very difficult to unwind,” he said.
McManus recently created Allspring’s first pro bono program from scratch. He wants to make the company’s attorneys and staff aware of opportunities to serve disadvantaged clients in the cities where the company has offices. He also has a personal stake in launching the program in his hometown of Charlotte.
“As someone who grew up in a single-parent household and with no money here in Charlotte, I’ve focused on finding projects that will target the city’s poor areas,” he said.
“I didn’t want to do only 20 hours of pro bono a year; I wanted to get 200 hours done, even if I was cobbling it together with other people.”
More About Chrishon
- In April 2023, McManus was named one of Charlotte Business Journal’s rising stars in its annual 40 Under 40 Awards.
- McManus collects political campaign buttons. His most cherished is a 1960 JFK button, and he also likes the “In Perot We Trust” button from Ross Perot’s 1992 third-party campaign for the presidency.
- McManus has competed in both a U.S. Masters Swimming Meet and a 2.4-mile open-water swim, the Lowcountry Splash in South Carolina. (Not bad for someone who didn’t learn to swim until he was 30.)