J. Drake Brinkley

Commercial Real Property Attorney
Ward and Smith, P.A.
Email jdbrinkley@wardandsmith.com
252.215.4014 Fax 252.215.4077
Post Office Box 8088, Greenville, NC 27835-8088
The Vault @ 411 Front Street (no mail service), Beaufort, NC

Drake serves as a trusted advisor to developers and investors in the acquisition and disposition, such as tax-deferred exchanges, leasing, planning, construction, and financing of a variety of developments, including retail, multi-family, industrial, office, and mixed-use projects. He regularly assists clients in all aspects of the land development process, including obtaining land use and zoning entitlements.  Drake's civil engineering background provides practical assistance to clients throughout transactions.

A substantial portion of his practice is focused on representing both landlords and tenants in commercial lease negotiations for a wide variety of spaces, including office locations, retail centers, industrial facilities, and solar farms.

Drake also regularly assists clients with real property issues associated with mergers, acquisitions, and company divestitures.


  • J.D., Campbell Law School, 2006.  Articles Editor, Campbell Law Review; Case Summary Writer, Campbell Law Observer; Campbell Law Moot Court; Order of Old Kivett
  • B.S., magna cum laude, Civil Engineering, North Carolina State University, 2002

Representative Experience

  • Representation of an international company in the sale of approximately 25,000 acres and related improvements with a value of approximately $240 million
  • Representation of investors in the acquisition and disposition of multi-family properties with values generally ranging from $20M - $40M
  • Representation of convenience store retailer in the acquisition and development, including obtaining land use entitlements, of multiple locations in North Carolina
  • Representation of international financial institution in lease negotiations for multiple locations in the southeast
  • Representation of public-private partnership in the sale of multiple parcels for economic development purposes
  • Representation of a developer in a multi-parcel assemblage for development of a large-scale, multi-tenant shopping center
  • Representation of an operating company in a three-party transaction, which included a governmental entity, involving a simultaneous land exchange to obtain site for expansion
  • Representation of an anchor office tenant in lease negotiations for premises located in a to-be-constructed building
  • Representation of a manufacturer in a sale-leaseback transaction involving a long-term triple net lease associated with a 10+ acre site and related improvements
  • Representation of a multi-campus private school in multiple lease negotiations for sites in retail shopping centers throughout North Carolina
  • Representation of real estate investors on 1031 exchange planning and transactions
  • Representation of a cellular service provider in multiple counties to obtain special use permits for the installation of cellular towers

Honors and Distinctions*

  • The Best Lawyers in America, Best Lawyers®, 2020-2024
  • "Legal Elite," Business North Carolina, Real Estate Law, 2023
  • "Rising Star," North Carolina Super Lawyers, 2011

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Professional and Community Affiliations

  • Greenville ENC Alliance, Board of Directors Chair (present), Vice Chair (2022-2023), Secretary (2021-2022)
  • Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce (Leadership Greenville Alumnus, Class of 2015)
  • North Carolina Bar Association — Sections: Business Law; Real Property Law
  • North Carolina State University — College of Engineering, Engineering Foundation Board of Directors, Member

Admitted to Practice

  • North Carolina, 2006
  • All state courts in North Carolina
  • United States District Court for the Eastern, Middle, and Western Districts of North Carolina

* Please see the following websites for an explanation of the membership standards for the following recognitions: www.bestlawyers.com; businessnc.com/special-sections/legal-elite/; and www.superlawyers.com/north-carolina.

An attorney‑client relationship may only be established through direct attorney‑to‑client communication that is confirmed by the execution of an engagement agreement. The content of any unsolicited email sent to Ward and Smith, P.A., or to any of its attorneys at an email address available on this website, will not create an attorney‑client relationship and the contents of such unsolicited email shall not be considered confidential. Therefore, do not use this website or the email addresses available on this website to provide confidential information about yourself or a legal matter to Ward and Smith or any of its attorneys.

  • American Board of Trial Advocates
  • Legal Elite Business North Carolina 2024
  • Super Lawyers 2021
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers 2023
  • U.S. News Best Lawyers 20234
  • 2024 Chambers USA

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