J. Drake Brinkley

Commercial Real Property Attorney and LEED Green Associate
Ward and Smith, P.A.
Email jdbrinkley@wardandsmith.com
252.215.4014 Fax 252.215.4077
Post Office Box 8088, Greenville, NC 27835-8088

Drake works with entities and individuals in transactions involving commercial real property.

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. In addition, he represents buyers and sellers in negotiating and closing purchases and sales, including tax-deferred exchanges.

Drake also represents developers and investors in all aspects of the land development process, including obtaining land use and zoning entitlements. He also represents borrowers and lenders in financing transactions. Drake also regularly assists clients with real property issues associated with mergers, acquisitions, and company divestitures.

Drake's civil engineering background provides practical assistance to clients throughout real estate transactions. He is an accredited Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design associate (LEED AP). 


  • 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 an investor in the sale of a multi-family property with a value of approximately $20 million, and utilizing a 1031 exchange to purchase a multi-family property with a similar value
  • 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*

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

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Professional and Community Affiliations

  • Greenville ENC Alliance, Board of Directors Vice Chair
  • 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.

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

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