Content is provided by the firm.
On September 1, 1964, Harold Tharrington and Wade Smith, classmates at UNC, opened the doors of their new law firm. They welcomed any client who walked in, paying or not. They survived, then prospered, and in the next few years they were joined by Wade's brother, Roger, and by Wade Hargrove.

The firm became Tharrington, Smith & Hargrove and began developing its eclectic collection of specialties. Tharrington eased into a family law practice; the Smiths focused on criminal defense; and Hargrove started to build a radio/television practice. Though these became the best known parts of the firm's work, the lawyers continued to accept any kind of case that arose.

By 1985, when the firm moved to its present building, there were a dozen lawyers on hand and a new speciality, school law. When George Rogister joined the firm, he brought his client the Wake County Board of Education, followed soon by the North Carolina School Boards Association, and over time the boards for Edgecombe, Durham, Person, Hertford and numerous other counties.

Rogister was followed by John Edwards who quickly started winning significant personal injury cases, then medical malpractice, establishing yet another area of firm expertise.

By the late 1980s the firm had passed 30 lawyers and outgrown the building. The Smiths were the best known criminal defense lawyers in the state, their reputation fueled by high profile cases such as the defenses of Jeffrey MacDonald and lieutenant governor Jimmy Green. Hargrove had built a sophisticated communications practice, listing the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters and the national organization of ABC TV affiliates among his clients. Tharrington's family law practice expanded to one of the best known in the state and Rogister, who chaired the National Council of School Attorneys, established one of the premiere school law practices in the country. Edwards, meanwhile, went from one courtroom triumph to another, becoming the most successful trial lawyer in North Carolina.

The early 1990s were a time of transition. Harold Tharrington retired, but Carlyn Poole, Jaye Meyer and others continued to grow a family law practice that became the largest and most respected in the state. Wade Hargrove moved to another firm with his communications practice, and Edwards decided to start his own small, boutique firm specializing in medical malpractice. (Edwards later was elected to the United States Senate and in 2004 became the Democratic candidate for vice president.) Rogister died, but Ann Majestic and others built on his foundation to create one of the largest and best regarded education law practices in the country.

Since the mid-1990s Tharrington Smith has stayed around two dozen lawyers, purposely choosing to retain a size that allows sufficient support for all levels of cases while still retaining collegiality. Unlike many other Raleigh firms, it has resisted merger into larger national or regional firms. The best known specialties - criminal defense, education, family law - remain at the core of the firm's practice, but Tharrington Smith now is well known also in such areas as civil litigation, business law, voting rights, regulatory law, local government and construction.


Tharrington Smith, LLP is metro ranked in 12 practice areas. Best Law Firms rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process.

Read how Best Law Firms ranks firms

Metro Rankings

Raleigh, NC
Tier 1 for Appellate Practice
Tier 1 for Bet-the-Company Litigation
Tier 1 for Commercial Litigation
Tier 1 for Criminal Defense: General Practice
Tier 1 for Criminal Defense: White-Collar


Metro Rankings

Raleigh, NC
Tier 1 for Appellate Practice
Tier 1 for Bet-the-Company Litigation
Tier 1 for Commercial Litigation
Tier 1 for Criminal Defense: General Practice
Tier 1 for Criminal Defense: White-Collar
Tier 1 for DUI / DWI Defense
Tier 1 for Education Law
Tier 1 for Family Law
Tier 2 for Litigation - Intellectual Property
Tier 2 for Litigation - Labor and Employment
Tier 3 for Family Law Mediation
Tier 3 for Litigation - First Amendment

Practice Areas

The below are areas of legal specialty volunteered by the firm and do not designate a specialty in which a Best Law Firms ranking is held.
  • Appellate Practice
  • Bet-the-Company Litigation
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Criminal Defense: General Practice
  • Criminal Defense: White-Collar
  • Education Law
  • Family Law
  • Family Law Mediation
  • Litigation - Intellectual Property

Individuals Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America®

Spinning circle
{{ practiceAreaName }}
{{ lawyer.FirstName[0] }}{{ lawyer.LastName[0] }} {{ lawyer.FirstName[0] }}{{ lawyer.LastName[0] }} {{ lawyer.Locations[0].City }}, {{ lawyer.Locations[0].StateCode }}

Client Comments

All client comments represent the opinions of the people who provided them. All potential clients are urged to remember that no two cases are ever completely alike and that the result in one case does not guarantee a similar result in another case.
Spinning circle
{{ comment.ClientFullName + (comment.ClientTitle ? ", " : "") }} {{ comment.ClientTitle }} – {{ comment.ClientCompanyName }}


Awards are self-reported by firms and are not verified by the Best Law Firms rankings.
  • "Best Law Firms" list by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers

Main Location

Raleigh, NC
Wells Fargo Building, Suite 1900
150 Fayetteville Street
P.O. Box 1151
Raleigh, NC 27602
United States
919-821-4711 Call our Raleigh, NC location at 919-821-4711 Get Directions Get directions to our Raleigh, NC location
Find the Best Law Firms
Search for a Law Firm
Search our directory of over 16,000 firms across the U.S.
Is Your Law Firm Ranked?
Enhance your firm's reputation and visibility with our marketing opportunities.
Marketing Opportunities
Ranked Practice Areas
See the practice areas included in our Best Law Firms research.
Practice Areas