Byron Kirkland Honored as Among “The Best of the Best in Corporate Leadership in the Triangle”

Triangle Business Journal

Triangle Business Journal has named Byron Kirkland among its 2021 CEO of the Year and C-Suite Award winners. Read the TBJ's full Q&A and get a peak into Byron's life inside and outside of the office.

Image of ByronA corporate and transactional attorney at Smith Anderson since the start of his legal career 33 years ago, Byron was named Managing Partner of the Triangle’s largest law firm in 2019. He has helped steer Smith Anderson through one of its most challenging eras in its almost 110-year history, keeping the firm’s people consistently informed, engaged and reassured about changes the pandemic brought. He encourages members of the firm to rally around clients and each other and set a tone of support, accomplishment and collaboration. His effective leadership and influence has kept everyone working with positivity and intention, despite the challenges the firm faced. 

Byron has held a variety of leadership roles at Smith Anderson, serving as leader of the firm’s Private Equity Practice group, co-chair of the firm’s Corporate team and serves on the firm’s Management Committee. As managing partner, he continues to practice law and support clients full-time. Byron’s accomplishments under his leadership as Man­­aging Partner so far have been the continuing development of a new firm strategic plan; hands-on involvement with the hiring of attorneys and career development programs; and, despite the pandemic, no layoffs, furloughs, or pay cuts, as well as the hiring of additional attorneys and staff throughout­­ the pandemic.

TBJ calls this year's group of winners “the best of the best in corporate leadership in the Triangle,” noting that “they have set the bar for others to follow.”

“I have come upon few leaders who are as highly esteemed and held in such respect and affection,” Sandy Costa, a Smith Anderson attorney and a nationally recognized speaker on leadership in the workplace, said of Byron. Sandy is also a former president of IQVIA, the Triangle’s largest contract research organization, and he served as counsel for GlaxoSmithKline and Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals before joining Smith Anderson.

Others at Smith Anderson chimed in on Byron’s honor as well:

“I sent Byron a text on Thanksgiving last year noting that his “calm, steady and joyful leadership” during the pandemic was one of the things for which I was thankful.” Tim Goettel, Partner

“A well-deserved recognition for exceptional, steady and effective leadership in a difficult time. Thank you for always being willing to listen.” Dave Horne, Partner

“Byron is kind and just a generally nice person – and we are very lucky he is one of us!” Kerry Shad, Partner

“We all know how wonderful Byron is to work with and have seen the many positive impacts he has made on our firm during his 30+ years at Smith Anderson. It is gratifying to see him recognized as a leader by the business community.” Amy Batten, Partner and Management Committee Chair

Byron and the other award winners will be invited to a ceremony to accept their awards on Sept. 22, and Triangle Business Journal will profile them in its Sept. 24 edition and online.

Subscribers to Triangle Business Journal can see the full list of winners here.

Triangle Business Journal (TBJ) is the leading source of business news and events covering all industries in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina and the surrounding areas. The Business Journals report on local and national issues that impact businesses and are a division of the American City Business Journals (ACBJ), the largest publisher of metropolitan business newsweeklies in the United States.


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