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Wade M. Smith

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Criminal Defense Attorney in Raleigh, NC

Tharrington Smith, LLP
150 Fayetteville St., Suite 1800
Raleigh, NC 27601
Phone: 919-821-4711
Fax: 919-829-1583
Email: Wade M. Smith
Selected to Super Lawyers: 2006 - 2022
Licensed in North Carolina Since: 1963
Practice Areas: Criminal Defense, Civil Litigation: Plaintiff
Attorney Profile

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.

To commemorate the body of work Wade has completed, the North Carolina Bar Association established in the spring of 2008 the annual Wade M. Smith award “for a Criminal Defense Attorney Who Exemplifies the Highest Ideals of the Profession.” In summer, 2008, the North Carolina Bar Association presented Wade with the H. Brent McKnight Renaissance Lawyer Award which annually goes to “an attorney whose trustworthiness, respectful and courteous treatment of all people, enthusiasm for intellectual achievement and commitment to excellence in work and service to the profession and community, inspires others.”

In Summer, 2009, Wade was be honored along with other lawyers from across America by Best Lawyers in America for 25 years of succession for inclusion in their list. He has been listed in Best Lawyers in America since its inception in 1983. He has been selected to the North Carolina Super Lawyers Top 100 list since its inception in 2006, and has been frequently listed in their prestigious Top 10 list throughout the years. He has been selected to the Top 25 Raleigh Lawyers list by North Carolina Super Lawyers since it began in 2013. In 2016, Super Lawyers Magazine honored Mr. Smith, calling him “Our Atticus Finch” in their cover editorial.

In 2004 Wade was named by Business North Carolina Magazine as North Carolina’s number one criminal lawyer. This selection was based on a vote by his fellow lawyers. He is now a member of Business North Carolina’s “Legal Elite” Hall of Fame

About Wade M. Smith

First Admitted: 1963, North Carolina

Professional Webpage:


  • Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers
  • North Carolina Bar Association 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
  • Award for 25 years in Best Lawyers in America, Best Lawyers in America, 2009
  •  #1 Criminal Lawyer in North Carolina , Business North Carolina Magazine, 2004
  • Joseph Branch Professionalism Award, Wake County Bar Association, 1998
  •  Judge John J. Parker Memorial Award, North Carolina Bar Association, 2015
  •  H. Brent McKnight Renaissance Lawyer Award, 2008
  • Lawyer of the Year, Criminal Defense Non-White Collar, 2010, 2014, Best Lawyers in America
  • “Legal Elite” Hall of Fame, Business North Carolina Magazine
  • Fellow of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers
  • Fellow of the International Society of Barristers
  • Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism Award, 2014
  • Bet-The-Company Litigation, Non-White-Collar, & White-Collar Criminal Defense sections of Best Lawyers of America® Since 1983, Best Lawyers of America
  • Lawyer of the Year, Criminal Defense, White Collar, Best Lawyers in America, 2013
  • Distinguished Service Medal winner, University of North Carolina, 1989
  • Included in Best Lawyers in America© since its inauguration in 1983, Best Lawyer, Best Lawyers in America

Bar/Professional Activity

  • North Carolina State Bar, Member, 1963
  • American Board of Criminal Lawyers, Fellow
  • Wake County Bar Association, President, 1988
  • American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow
  • The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, appointed 2006 one of the eight original commissioners
  • North Carolina Bar Association, Member
  • International Society of Barristers, Fellow

Pro bono/Community Service

  • University of North Carolina, President of the Alumni Association, 1985
  • North Carolina Democratic Party, Chair, 1985
  • North Carolina House of Representatives (2 elections), 1973-1977

Articles about Wade M. Smith appearing in Super Lawyers

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Office Location for Wade M. Smith

150 Fayetteville St.
Suite 1800
Raleigh, NC 27601

Last Updated: 9/2/2021

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