RALEIGH – Smith Anderson, the Research Triangle’s largest law firm, is renewing its commitment to downtown Raleigh by extending its long-term lease to remain in the landmark Wachovia Capitol Center.
Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan LLP, the property’s anchor nonbank tenant when the building opened in 1991, is renewing its lease with the building’s ownership group, represented by the building’s manager and leasing agent, Spectrum Properties.
The long-term decision will keep the firm at 150 Fayetteville Street, one block south of the State Capitol, for at least the next 16 years, with the option of two five-year extensions. The deal became final Tuesday.
“We are very pleased to reaffirm our longstanding commitment to downtown Raleigh,” said Carl N. Patterson Jr., the firm’s managing partner. “This commitment reflects our confidence in Raleigh, the Triangle, and North Carolina. We believe that maintaining our offices in downtown Raleigh will best enable our firm to continue to provide excellent services to our clients, as well as to our community.”
Smith Anderson, with 122 lawyers and 90 staff members, is the largest nonbank tenant in the widely recognized 29-story building. The law firm will expand by adding a fifth floor of offices. The firm’s space will be renovated and updated one floor at a time over about a year, starting early next year.
When the expansion and renovation are complete, Smith Anderson will occupy about 92,000 square feet on floors 23-27 of the tower, which is clad in glass and gray and rose granite. The deal is believed to be Raleigh’s biggest office lease agreement this year.
Smith Anderson has grown to become the largest law firm headquartered in the Triangle, and one of the biggest in the state. The firm, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2012, provides a full range of legal services. It is dedicated to the principles of professionalism, excellence, and service to its clients and the community.
“We believe our law firm has contributed to the revitalization of downtown,” said John L. Jernigan, the firm’s chairman, who led Smith Anderson’s 1991 move from 1300 St. Mary’s Street northwest of downtown to the Wachovia Capitol Center. “Downtown has been good for us, and we believe we have been good for downtown.”
As Smith Anderson’s original lease wound down, the firm gave careful consideration to several competing sites in Raleigh and throughout the Triangle before deciding to remain at the Wachovia Capitol Center.
“We looked at all the options, including new buildings,” said Rob Harris, the firm’s executive director. “We decided that staying downtown was in the long-term best interest of our firm and its clients.”
Key Smith Anderson clients agree, including Progress Energy, a Fortune 250 company.
“Smith Anderson has been a part of Raleigh for nearly 100 years, and we applaud the firm’s decision to keep its operations downtown,” said Bill Johnson, Progress Energy’s chairman, president, and CEO. “As a company that has been headquartered in downtown Raleigh for more than a century, we know the value and importance of maintaining and expanding professional organizations in the heart of the city. Such future-focused commitments are vital to the ongoing rebirth of Raleigh as a professional, cultural, and entertainment center for our region and North Carolina.”
Other Raleigh leaders said they are delighted by Smith Anderson’s decision.
“Smith Anderson has been an anchor tenant in the Wachovia Capitol Center since it opened,” noted Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, a partner at another law firm in the building. “It’s outstanding news that Smith Anderson will continue to play a major role in downtown for years to come.”
David Diaz, president and CEO of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, said Smith Anderson’s decision to remain in downtown Raleigh reinforces the district’s position as the legal epicenter of the growing Triangle.
“Smith Anderson’s decision to renew its lease bodes well for its growing organization and for our emerging center city,” Diaz said. “Smith Anderson has a reputation for excellence in legal matters, reflecting our passion for an excellent downtown. We look forward to working together with Smith Anderson to help the firm and our downtown continue to excel together.”
Harvey Schmitt, President and CEO of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, echoed Diaz’s view. “I’m very pleased that a firm with such a long history in our Capital City has chosen Raleigh and the downtown core as the home of its future,” he said.
SMITH ANDERSON FACTS AND FIGURES:
- Founded in Raleigh in 1912, Smith Anderson looks forward to celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 2012.
- Current staffing includes 122 lawyers and 90 nonlawyers. It is the largest law firm headquartered in the Triangle, has more lawyers working in the Triangle than any other law firm, and is North Carolina’s largest law firm in one location.
- Smith Anderson’s many clients include Progress Energy, Quintiles Transnational, the N.C. Medical Society, Pepsi Bottling Ventures, Cornerstone Therapeutics, GlaxoSmithKline, The Pantry, Electronic Data Systems, and Cree.
- In the inaugural nationwide “Best Law Firm Ranking” produced jointly in September by U.S. News and Best Lawyers, Smith Anderson received first-tier rankings in 15 categories, the greatest number of any law firm in the Research Triangle. It also is the only Triangle firm with first-tier rankings in Mergers & Acquisitions Law and Securities / Capital Markets Law.
- The firm’s Corporate / Mergers & Acquisitions practice received Chambers USA’s highest ranking this year for the third consecutive year, the only Triangle law firm and one of only two North Carolina firms to receive this notable honor. Other practice areas honored include General Commercial Litigation, Real Estate, and Labor & Employment.
- Partner Martin Brinkley is president-elect of the N.C. Bar Association, which has more than 15,000 members. He will be the firm’s fourth partner to serve as president of the statewide association of attorneys, following Willis Smith (1941-42), James K. Dorsett, Jr. (1959-60), and John L. Jernigan (1999-2000).
- The firm is believed to be the only large law firm in North Carolina that has not laid off any attorneys or staff members during the current economic recession.
- The firm fosters among its members a culture of public service, and takes seriously its professional obligation to provide free legal services to poor clients and to worthy community causes.