John Jernigan is chair emeritus of Smith Anderson, and prior to that, John 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.

Areas of Focus



  • Selected, Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business
    • Corporate/M&A (2023-2024)
    • Senior Statesman (2017-2022)
    • Corporate/M&A, Band 1 "Leader in their Field" (2004-2016)
  • Chairman of Smith Anderson
  • Listed, The Best Lawyers in America®
    • Banking & Finance Law (1995-2024)
    • Corporate Law (1995-2024)
    • Financial Services Regulation Law (1995-2024)
    • Mergers & Acquisitions Law (1995-2024)
    • Securities/Capital Markets Law (1995-2024)
  • Listed, Business North Carolina Legal Elite
  • Recognized, The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers (one of four North Carolina lawyers in the Corporate Governance area)
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Rated
  • Listed, North Carolina Super Lawyers, Mergers & Acquisitions, Business/Corporate (2006-2013)
  • Honoree, Top 100 Lawyers list and listed, North Carolina Super Lawyers, Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Selected, Triangle Business Journal's "CEO of the Year" Awards (2017)
  • Selected, Triangle Business Journal's "The Triangle's Most Influential Business Leaders" (2012)


  • University of North Carolina, J.D., 1967
  • Davidson College, A.B., 1964

Bar & Court Admissions


  • Member, American, North Carolina, and Wake County Bar Associations
    • Past President, North Carolina Bar Association (1999-2000)
    • Member, North Carolina Bar Association’s Past Presidents’ Council
    • Member, North Carolina Bar Association’s Board of Governors (1989-1992) and served two terms as Chair of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Business Law Section
  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation
  • Member, American Judicature Society, American College of Mortgage Attorneys, and American Counsel Association
  • Member, North Caroliniana Society
  • Member, Supreme Court Historical Society
  • Member, Board of Directors, Wells Fargo, Raleigh
  • Former Vice Chair, North Carolina Symphony Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Former Member, Board of Advisors, UNC School of Law Center for Banking and Finance (2000-2015)
  • Former Member, Davidson College Board of Visitors
  • Former Member, Board of Trustees, Choate Rosemary Hall School (1989-1992)
  • Former Member, Leadership Council, Wake Education Partnership


  • Served as lead lawyer in the representation of a prominent privately held distributor and supplier of original equipment and aftermarket replacement products in its merger with a publicly traded leading provider of automotive aftermarket parts and accessories in a transaction valued at $2.04 billion, making it one of the largest transactions in North Carolina history.
  • Represented a family-owned national customized food service company in sale transaction with subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
  • Advised an investment company in a definitive agreement to purchase the outstanding equity interests of the largest independent blender and packager of lubricants to the automotive, agriculture, commercial and heavy duty markets in North America.
  • Represented buyer in connection with $250 million+ acquisition from public company buyer and $100 million+ sale of business to public company buyer.
  • Served as counsel to an international leader in the food and beverage industry, in connection with compliance with FTC’s Consent Order arising out of the client's $11 billion+ merger.
  • Represented seller in connection with $115 million+ sale to foreign public company.
  • Advised sellers in connection with $100 million+ sale of North Carolina large privately held business.
  • Provided general corporate and strategic advice to the largest electric utility in the United States.
  • Engaged by private equity firm to advise in connection with potential $100 million+ investment in banking industry.
  • Engaged by publicly held bank in connection with two merger transactions.



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