Law Firms

2 Small N.C. Firms With Big History Will Soon Merge

For years, two small law firms with adjacent offices in Lexington, N.C., have been friendly competitors with multiple social connections between their respective attorneys. But now they are going to practice together, starting Tuesday.

By joining forces, seven-attorney Brinkley Walser, which opened in 1886 and is now one of the oldest law practices in the state, and the two-man, more than 30-year-old Smith Law Firm, will meld complimentary practices and enhance the ability of each firm to serve clients by adding depth to the attorney team, according to the Dispatch, a local newspaper. They’ll have an extra office once the Smith firm moves next door to its former competitor’s law shop, but name partner R.B. Smith Jr. says he’ll figure out whether to sell the space or find a tenant for it.

He represents the city of Lexington along with associate Ryan McNeil. That, of course, was a plus, but Smith says a potential conflict concerning a Brinkley Walser client, NewBridge Bank, stood in the way of the deal until he stepped down as a member of the bank’s board of directors last summer.

“I wasn’t willing to give up my spot on the board, and they weren’t willing to give up a client,” Smith tells the Dispatch.

Brinkley Walser, meanwhile, represents the Davidson County Board of Education, and was delighted to meld with a well-respected law firm whose practice is a good fit. “We feel like it is a positive thing for us, combining all our years of experience,” says partner David Inabinett. “We’re busy, and we felt like we could bring on additional attorneys to help.”

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