History of Womble Carlyle
Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP is one of the largest and most technologically advanced business law firms in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast. The firm's roots run more than a century deep in North Carolina and its growth mirrors the evolving economy of the State and the region. Established in Winston-Salem in 1876, the firm now comprises more than 550 lawyers in fourteen offices, including Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Greensboro, Research Triangle Park and Raleigh, NC; and Atlanta; Charleston, Columbia and Greenville, SC; Tysons Corner, VA; Washington, DC; Baltimore, MD; Wilmington, DE; and, Cupertino, CA.
Womble Carlyle lawyers and specialized professionals provide a full range of legal and technology-based ancillary services to regional, national and international corporations, businesses, agencies and foundations in industries that include manufacturing, transportation, telecommunications and energy, financial services, health care, life sciences, government, education and technology.
The Firm incorporates technology as an integral part of the legal services it provides. In 1999, the national technology publication Red Herring cited Womble Carlyle as one of the most progressive law firms in the country, and among the first not only to accept the impact of technology on the practice of law, but also aggressively embrace it. Also, an AmLaw Tech cover story titled "Womble's Wired World" stated that Womble Carlyle "does more than practice law; it also advises clients on technology and helps to solve their legal needs through innovative use of technology."
During the past two decades the firm's dominance spread from North Carolina to the entire Southeast. Womble Carlyle's expansion outside of its founding city began in the early 1980s with the opening of a Raleigh office in 1982 and a Charlotte office in 1984.
In the early 1990s, the Firm established a wide area network linking all offices by phone, fax, e-mail and videoconference, permitting lawyers to allocate resources as needed from any location.
In 1995, Womble Carlyle became the first North Carolina law firm to establish a web site. The firm then quickly went on to set up an intranet, secure client extranets and virtual private networks, enabling lawyers and clients in any location to simultaneously access documents and information.
The implementation of this communications technology facilitated Womble Carlyle's expansion into three new markets during the 1990s. In 1993, Womble Carlyle opened an Atlanta office to serve a major financial institution client and three years later expanded that office to approximately 30 lawyers with the merger with the established Atlanta business law firm, Parker, Johnson, Cook and Dunlevie.
In 1997, the Firm opened a second eastern North Carolina office in Research Triangle Park to serve the high tech and biosciences companies centered in the park. Less than a year later, Womble Carlyle expanded into Washington, D.C. through a merger with the David, Hagner and Kuney law firm and simultaneously expanded its Atlanta office with a merger with the Intellectual Property/Patent Prosecution boutique, Isaf, Vaughan and Kerr.
In 1999, the Firm filled the last gap in its coverage from North Carolina to Atlanta with the opening of a Greenville office in the heart of the thriving business community of Upstate South Carolina.
In 2001, the firm completed its coverage of the Southeastern Technology Crescent (Atlanta, Research Triangle Park, NC and Northern Virginia) with the opening of a Tysons Corner, VA office through a merger withThe Jefferson Law Firm of that city.
In 2002, Womble Carlyle merged with the Washington, DC telecommunications firm of Pepper & Corazzini.
In 2003, Womble Carlyle was the recipient of the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund Corporate Leadership Award.
In 2006, the Firm opened an office in Wilmington, Delaware. Attorneys in this office focus on Bankruptcy law and Intellectual Property litigation.
In 2007, the Firm opened an office in Baltimore, Maryland led by former Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. (he left the firm in 2011). Womble Carlyle has grown to more than 530 lawyers in 11 offices located in six states and the District of Columbia.
In Spring 2011, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP and Buist Moore Smythe McGee, P.A. announced that its lawyers have voted to merge, creating the largest law firm in both North and South Carolina. The addition of Buist Moore’s attorneys expanded Womble Carlyle to a 550-attorney firm. For more on the history of Buist Moore Smythe McGee, P.A., see the firm's Charleston, SC office page.
In Fall 2011, Womble Carlyle opened an office in Cupertino, California in the Silicon Valley.
In February 2012, the Firm merged with Hall and Bowers, LLC in Columbia, SC.
Womble Carlyle attorneys come from diverse backgrounds and have a history of academic and professional achievement. Dozens of our attorneys have served as judicial clerks to federal and state judges throughout the nation and one of our attorneys is the former Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. In addition, several of our attorneys have come from federal agencies with which we are involved on behalf of our clients, including the SEC, the IRS, the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice.