John L. Jernigan was honored at the North Carolina State Bar’s 50-Year Lawyers’ Luncheon, which recognized the 50th anniversary of his membership in the State Bar.
The 50-Year Lawyers’ Luncheon celebrated lawyers from across the State of North Carolina who were originally licensed to practice in 1967.
The State Bar published a commemorative program featuring personal essays written by the honorees addressing topics including their background and education, most influential mentors and their predictions for the future of the legal profession.
Though he has enjoyed many strong relationships throughout his career, John cited his most influential mentors as former U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Dickson Phillips and Jim Dorsett Jr., one of Smith Anderson’s founders.
John wrote in his essay, “I have been blessed to learn from and have the support of many of the very best lawyers. More than great lawyers, they were all exceptional human beings whose lives were well lived. The value of a mentor in law practice cannot be overstated. I ask myself ‘What would Judge Phillips do?’ or ‘What would Jim do?’ almost every day as I work out new challenges. In the challenging and wonderful practice of law, I believe we must count our blessings each and every day and remember, as professionals, it is our duty to serve our clients to the best of our ability, serve our profession and serve our community.”
John graduated from Davidson College in 1964 where he earned an A.B. in history. He entered law school at the University of North Carolina, earning a J.D. in 1967. After law school, John began military service during the Vietnam era and served as an Army Captain in NORAD. In 1969, he returned home to North Carolina and joined Smith Anderson, where he has practiced his entire career.
John serves as Chairman of Smith Anderson. Prior to his election to Chairman, he served as the firm's Managing Partner. John maintains an active practice, including corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, banking, and corporate law. He represents businesses in complex commercial transactions and has over 35 years' experience structuring, negotiating, and closing mergers and acquisitions involving public companies and large privately-owned companies. John has advised public company boards on special committees, audit committees and corporate governance, and regularly advises companies and their boards and officers on general corporate and business law matters.