North Carolina Bar Foundation Honors Career of Smith Anderson Chairman

John L. Jernigan Justice Fund Dedicated

The North Carolina Bar Foundation (NCBF) honored Smith Anderson Chairman John L. Jernigan with an NCBF Endowment Justice Fund for his dedication to the pursuit of justice and outstanding service to the legal profession and the public throughout his career. John is the fifth Smith Anderson lawyer to receive this special tribute.

The John L. Jernigan Justice Fund Dedication Ceremony took place on May 30 at the N.C. Bar Center where North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA) and NCBF President and Smith Anderson Partner Caryn Coppedge McNeill presided and offered welcoming remarks. Robert A. Ingram, chairman emeritus of GlaxoSmithKline, chair of the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation and general partner of Hatteras Venture Partners, and Martin H. Brinkley, Smith Anderson partner and dean and Arch T. Allen Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law, each spoke about John.

“John embodies the words “trust,” “mentorship” and “integrity,”” said Robert A. Ingram. “When I think of Smith Anderson, I’m proud to be a client and I’m proud to recommend them because they have earned my trust. They have a unique culture – and of all the assets any organization has, culture is Smith Anderson’s most valuable asset. I don’t know of many law firms that have stayed together as long as Smith Anderson and have grown, but have never lost their culture. John has been a key architect in the building and nurturing of their great culture.”

“No human institution ever becomes great without a visionary leader believing that greatness is possible,” said Martin H. Brinkley. “John has worked to construct a law firm worthy of being considered great, a law firm worthy of a state and a region with a growing pretension to national and global prominence. I have an appreciation for Smith Anderson’s culture and for the gifts of labor and spirit that have built it up, and no person’s influence has been felt more pervasively than John Jernigan’s.”

John, a former president of the NCBA and NCBF (1999-2000) and Smith Anderson’s first managing partner (2001-2009), joined Smith Anderson in 1969 following his service in the U.S. Army. He is a 1964 graduate of Davidson College and a 1967 graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law. John was the third Smith Anderson lawyer to serve as president of the NCBA/NCBF, and was followed in that role by Martin Brinkley (2011-12) and Caryn McNeill (2017-18).

“I am honored to receive this designation from my peers for whom I have a great deal of respect,” said John L. Jernigan. “As I look back over my career, I have learned the importance of strong relationships - relationships with my extraordinary colleagues at Smith Anderson and the wonderful clients with whom I still am privileged to work. I realize how fortunate I have been to work for a firm that holds such admirable values.”

The NCBF Endowment was established in 1987 to honor North Carolina lawyers, past and present, and has awarded grants totaling more than $6 million to more than 750 projects that further the Foundation’s mission to unite the generosity and talent of the legal profession to be a power of greater good for the people of North Carolina. Through these grants, the Foundation is able to advance its values of access to justice, service through the profession, civic education and professionalism.

John was joined at the ceremony by his wife Ginger, daughter Lee Ashley, son Frank and his grandson Liam – who had the special honor of unveiling the Justice Fund permanent copper-etched plaque depicting his grandfather.


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