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Wade M Smith

Wade M Smith


White Collar Crime and Criminal Defense Lawyer
Tharrington Smith, LLP
Raleigh, NC
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About Wade M Smith

Attorney Biography

Wade Smith has been one of North Carolina's best known and most acclaimed lawyers for nearly 50 years. His trials are recounted in books, magazines and journals. A renowned storyteller, Wade insists that within each case there is a compelling story waiting to be told. In seminars and bar meetings Wade has shared the art of storytelling. His cases offer a fine collection of North Carolina Courtroom lore. In 1979, Wade served as counsel to Dr. Jeffrey McDonald in the much studied and discussed Green Beret Murder case. Most recently he was lead counsel for Collin Finnerty, one of three young men accused in the Duke Lacrosse Case.

Wade was born in 1937 in Albemarle, North Carolina. His mother and father were textile workers, having barely survived the Great Depression. Wade and his brother, Roger, were raised in a mill village called New Town. The family attended North Albemarle Baptist Church. Wade recalls that they went to church "every single time the doors opened." In high school Wade was an All American football player with many opportunities to play on college football scholarships. But he chose, instead, an academic scholarship, The Morehead, at the University of North Carolina.

At UNC he excelled in academics and athletics, serving as one of the captains of the football team and winning many honors as an athlete. He was also awarded membership in the University's highest honorary, The Golden Fleece. Wade has maintained his connection with the University, serving as President of the Alumni Association in 1985. In 1989 the University awarded him its Distinguished Service Medal.

After completing his undergraduate work and earning an A.B. in English, Wade attended the University of North Carolina School of Law, graduating in 1963. From 1963 to 1964 he was clerk to North Carolina Supreme Court Justice, Carlisle W. Higgins. After his year as a clerk, Wade joined friend and fellow law clerk, J. Harold Tharrington, to found the law firm Tharrington Smith. Justice Higgins was a mentor to Wade throughout his formative years as a lawyer and, after finishing his years on the North Carolina Supreme Court, Justice Higgins joined Tharrington Smith, remaining with the firm until his death in 1980. Wade counts among his most important mentors acclaimed defense lawyers, Robert L. McMillan, Jr., Carl Churchill and Joseph Cheshire V. But Wade says he has learned the most from his brother, Roger W. Smith, a renowned lawyer in his own right.

From 1964 to 1966 Wade was a prosecutor in Wake County Superior Court. He then began his work as a trial lawyer. During the ensuing years Wade has tried dozens of cases before juries in federal and state courts across North Carolina and other states.

In 1973 Wade was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives and was reelected in 1975. In 1977 he retired from politics to devote full time to the practice of law. In 1985 he was elected to a one year term as chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party.

Wade's work crosses many spectra, both civil and criminal. He has represented people and businesses great and small. Wade insists that there are no small cases. All cases which concern people are important to them, and therefore to him. He often represents businesses and business people in crisis during federal and state criminal investigations and trials. He has represented people from every walk of life and every kind of employment. He has worked in the areas of tax fraud, Medicaid and Medicare Fraud, health care fraud, environmental crimes and financial crimes.


Practice Areas

 
White Collar Crime (50%)
 
Criminal Defense (25%)
 
Civil Trial Law (25%)

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Résumé - Wade M Smith

Bar Licenses

North Carolina State Bar
North Carolina
Member in Good Standing
1963

Work Experience

Prosecutor in Wake County Superior Court
19641966

Tharrington Smith, LLP
Founder, Tharrington Smith
1964

Clerk to North Carolina Supreme Court Justice, Carlisle W. Higgins
19631964

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Education

University of North Carolina School of Law
University of North Carolina School of Law
JD
1963

University of North Carolina
AB

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Associations

American Board of Criminal Lawyers
Fellow
American Board of Criminal Lawyers
1995

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Member
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

American College of Trial Lawyers
Fellow
American College of Trial Lawyers

Fellow
International Society of Barristers

Member
North Carolina Bar Association

Member
North Carolina State Bar

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Awards & Honors

Judge John J. Parker Memorial Award
North Carolina Bar Association
2015

Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism Award
Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism
2014

Top 25 Raleigh Super Lawyers® List
North Carolina Super Lawyers
2013

NCBA established the annual Wade M. Smith award “for a Criminal Defense Attorney Who Exemplifies the Highest Ideals of the Profession”
North Carolina Bar Association
2008

H. Brent McKnight Renaissance Lawyer Award
North Carolina Bar Association
2008

#1 Criminal Lawyer in North Carolina
Business North Carolina Magazine
2004

Joseph Branch Professionalism Award
Wake County Bar Association
1998

Distinguished Service Medal
University of North Carolina
1989

Legal Elite Hall of Fame
Business North Carolina magazine

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Commercial Recognitions

Professional Involvement badge
Recognized for Professional Involvement
Lawyer Legion
2021

Best Lawyers in America
2020

Best Lawyers in America
2020

Best Lawyers in America
2020

Best Lawyers in America
2019

Best Lawyers in America
2018

Best Lawyers in America
2014

Top 25 Raleigh Super Lawyers® List
North Carolina Super Lawyers
2014

Best Lawyers in America
2013

Best Lawyers in America
2010

North Carolina Super Lawyers

North Carolina Super Lawyers

North Carolina Super Lawyers

Best Lawyers of America

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Contact Wade M Smith

Wade M Smith
Tharrington Smith, LLP
150 Fayetteville Street Suite 1800
Raleigh, NC 27602
raleighcivil.law
Office: 919-821-4711

More Information

Bar Membership Information

North Carolina State Bar -

Wade M Smith - Member information with the North Carolina State Bar - Find more information about Wade M Smith on the North Carolina State Bar website including status and disciplinary information.


Nonprofit Organizations

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers -

Founded in 1958, NACDL is the largest organization for criminal defense lawyers fighting to preserve fairness within America's criminal justice system. The organization has more than 10,000 direct members including criminal defense attorneys in private practice, public defenders in state or federal court, U.S. military defense counsel, law professors and judges.


American Board of Criminal Lawyers -

Founded in 1978, the ABCL is an invitation-only honorary society for many of the top criminal defense lawyers throughout the United States.


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