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At Smith Debnam, our philosophy is simple – to provide the best possible value to our clients. We firmly believe that the key to delivering such value is equally simple – the people who make it happen. Our professional service team, the attorneys, paralegals, and staff, is, therefore, our most important asset. We are committed to maintaining an environment that provides professional fulfillment, actively supports professional development, and communicates the value of each person’s contributions.
The foundation for translating this philosophy into practice is our emphasis on forming strong, positive and effective working relationships, both within the firm and in our community. Smith Debnam ranks as one of the largest law firms in North Carolina, recognized in the legal and business community as a leader in our practice areas. We complement this long-standing reputation with partner leadership that embraces a collegial practice environment, fostering communication and cooperation on both a professional and personal level.
Our leadership begins within the structure of our legal operations, wherein practice groups of attorneys, paralegals, and staff meet regularly to discuss client service and practice management issues, ideas and opportunities. Within the legal profession, Smith Debnam is actively engaged in leadership in the State Bar, the State Bar Association, various national trade and membership organizations, as well as providing continuing legal education in various practice areas. In our community, we build relationships by investing our time and resources through civic organizations which promote our community welfare, such as the Triangle American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, The Healing Place, Helping Hands Mission, Habitat for Humanity and the NC Komen Race for the Cure. We also regularly contribute to our community through the provision of pro bono legal services that naturally arise in our law practice.
At Smith Debnam, our commitment to developing well-rounded professionals begins with our focus on continuing education. As the quality of client service hinges directly on attorneys and staff staying abreast of developments in law, business practices, and economic and technology trends, we provide our team members access to relevant continuing education, skills-based training, and information resources. We also provide structured direction for professional development through our Attorney Development Program, paralegal professional certification, and other developmental programs within the firm. Successful members of our team are dedicated to continual progression in their professional skills and motivated by a desire for excellence in client service.
The firm’s practice support structure is tailored to assist our professionals in meeting the everyday challenges of a diverse law practice. Our long-standing philosophy is to seek out and implement technology solutions that increase efficiency while maintaining required security and confidentiality. As a result, we provide our employees with state of the art tools with which to meet our clients’ needs. Our centralized administrative services also allow our professionals to devote their attention to the practice of law.
While we work hard to serve our clients, Smith Debnam encourages its employees to maintain a balance between professional and personal life. Frequent special firm activities are provided to build camaraderie and provide periodic relief from the daily grind. Events such as our annual new year kick-off, holiday parties, chili cook-offs and special recognitions and outings for attorneys, paralegals, and staff provide a fun and relaxing break while serving to strengthen our team. Through these and other special occasions we focus on recognizing the contributions and extra effort of our employees.
Smith Debnam is one of the premier legal employers in the state, offering competitive compensation plans, targeted incentives and quality benefits programs to attract top individuals to join our firm and staff. The firm’s benefit package includes the following programs:
Smith Debnam has developed a summer associate program that provides law students an opportunity to take their legal education beyond the classroom through hands-on experience and insight into the actual practice of law. This opportunity is designed for candidates who will have completed their second year of law school and who desire to invest their subsequent summer in a challenging and instructional practice environment.
“I’ve enjoyed getting to know the attorneys and staff. The level of approachability among the people here is unlike anything I’ve experience in a workplace. One of my favorite parts of the experience was the fact that I wasn’t doing busy work. The projects assigned by the attorneys are key pieces of work product required for discovery, hearings, trials, and public speaking engagements. Every assignment I turned in made me feel like I contributed to the client’s case.” Jen, Elon University
“I was very pleased to find how well the practitioners at Smith Debnam balanced professionalism with collegiality. They truly value the summer program, and use it not only as a recruiting tool, but are committed to teaching and mentoring the aspiring attorneys that come through the program.” Brian, Campbell University
Our program is structured such that each participant will engage in meaningful legal work supporting our attorneys within the diverse array of practice areas and clients at Smith Debnam. Summer associate assignments range from researching and preparing briefs, assisting with discovery requests or responses, and drafting complaints to attending mediations, court sessions, and client meetings – all in the context of active client matters. Our objective is to provide law students with significant exposure to a variety of practice specialties through direct participation in the activities and venues which comprise the legal representation of a client.
“My experience as a Summer Associate at Smith Debnam far exceeded my expectations. Not only was I able to observe many different aspects of the practice of law, in many different contexts, but I also was able to develop and improve practical skills that will help me throughout the remainder of my legal career” Brian, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
To guide participants through their summer experience, a specific attorney is assigned to mentor each law student. The mentor attorney monitors the quality and quantity of work assignments and provides important direction and consultation on carrying out assigned projects. They also facilitate performance feedback on every project assigned. Additionally, the mentor’s role is to provide an ongoing opportunity for students to engage in general discussion of broader legal industry and practice management topics.
“My summer experience at Smith Debnam taught me more about the practical aspects of practicing law than any other experience I have had since beginning law school. The attorneys really made the summer clerks feel like part of the family, and I know I will be a better lawyer because of my experience at Smith Debnam.” Teresa, North Carolina Central University
“The social events and gatherings gave me the ability to experience the strength of this firm’s culture. Overall, the summer associate program has truly exceeded my expectations. One of my favorite aspects of the summer associate program is the mentor/mentee relationship. I am always able to rely on my mentor for guidance and advice.” Joanna, North Carolina Central University
In addition to first-hand experience with the practice of law, the program provides a forum for law students and our firm to become better acquainted with one another while evaluating the potential for permanent employment. Participants engage fully in the daily life of our firm, personally experiencing the work ethic, collegial culture, and developmental priority valued at Smith Debnam. Various social activities are also planned each summer to provide relaxed and informal interaction with partners, associates, and firm management.
If you would like information regarding our fall on-campus interview schedule, please contact Brian Gilman, Chief Operating Officer, at 919-250-2000 or submit your resume.