The North Carolina State Bar was created in 1933 by the North Carolina General Assembly to regulate the legal profession in North Carolina. From 1979 until 2013, the State Bar was located on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh. During that time, the number of lawyers licensed to practice law in North Carolina tripled, and the State Bar’s building could no longer accommodate the agency’s needs. As a result, the State Bar entered into a 99 year agreement with the State of North Carolina to lease property located in the State Government Complex, across the street from the Governor’s Mansion. This property was once the location of Meredith College (1899—1926) and later the Heart of Raleigh Motel. At the time the State Bar acquired the property, it was a parking lot.
The new State Bar building opened in April of 2013. Because it is located in the State Government Complex, the State Bar worked with the architects to design a building that would coordinate with other government buildings in the area, including the State Capitol. The building’s exterior and interior design incorporate design elements from these nearby buildings, including Corinthian columns that are carried into the rotunda of the building. The building is 60,000 square feet, divided into four floors, with conference rooms and courtrooms on the first and second floors and staff offices located mainly on the third and fourth floors.
The cost of the building was $18.4 million. The money to pay for the building came from the sale of the old building, and from a mortgage paid with members’ annual dues. The remainder of the money, and the money that paid for the state of the art technology and energy efficiency—leading to an anticipated LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification—and upgrades throughout the building, such as granite floors and fine wood paneling, was raised by the North Carolina State Bar Foundation.
In addition, foundation funds have been used to beautify the building and enhance the experience of it for visitors and employees. Particularly significant in that regard was the purchase of an art collection that represents the best of North Carolina artists from the mountains to the sea.
The NC State Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable corporation formed in 2010, was created for the sole purpose of raising funds for the new building. The foundation’s Board of Trustees is made up of seven past presidents of the State Bar. The foundation’s campaign was chaired by Irvin W. Hankins of Charlotte and Barbara B. Weyher of Raleigh, two of the foundation’s trustees. In anticipation of this effort, the foundation sought and received approval from the state’s Ethics Commission for the solicitation of contributions from lawyers and law firms. The foundation operates independently from the State Bar.
With a lead gift of $500,000 from the North Carolina State Bar’s Board of Paralegal Certification, a campaign to raise $2.5 million commenced in early 2012. By the end of 2012, the foundation had exceeded this goal. Thus far, the foundation has raised over $3 million.
North Carolina State Bar Foundation Board of Trustees
John B. McMillan – Manning Fulton & Skinner, PA
L. Thomas Lunsford II – North Carolina State Bar
James K. Dorsett – Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan LLP
Irvin W. Hankins III - Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP
Dudley Humphrey – Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
William O. King – Moore & VanAllen PLLC
M. Ann Reed – Senior Deputy Attorney General, NC Dept. of Justice, Retired
Barbara B. “Bonnie” Weyher – Yates, McLamb & Weyher LLP