Nexsen Pruet Opens Raleigh Office

January 5, 2009

Ernie Pearson, Former Gov. Holshouser Join Firm

RALEIGH, NC – January 5, 2009 – Nexsen Pruet today announced the opening of a Raleigh office that will include Ernie Pearson, former assistant secretary of economic development for the North Carolina Department of Commerce, and former North Carolina Governor Jim Holshouser.

Joining them in forming the core of attorneys in the new location are Tom Johnson, who has more than two decades of experience in a broad range of real estate matters, and Samuel W. Whitt, whose practice areas include corporate law, venture capital, economic development, and nonprofit law.

Laurence A. Cobb, F. Joseph Diab and David Garrett will also be a part of Nexsen Pruet’s new team of lawyers in Raleigh.

“We believe this puts us in an even stronger position to serve business clients in the Raleigh area and throughout North Carolina,” said W. Leighton Lord, chairman of the board of Nexsen Pruet, which has seven other offices in the Carolinas.

“Additionally, by building upon one of our traditional strengths – helping new companies to locate, relocate, and expand in this region – it will enable us to play a greater role in efforts to create jobs and opportunities statewide.”

This is a great fit,” said Governor Holshouser. “Our strengths meld well with Nexsen Pruet’s and we are looking forward to what this new venture will bring.

Ernie Pearson has an extensive background in economic development. As assistant secretary, he managed programs dealing with business and industry recruitment, international trade development, incentives, travel and tourism promotion, and small business development.

In each of his four years with the Department, the agency was recognized as the top state recruitment program in the country. During that period, North Carolina led the nation in recruiting larges industries three times and twice led in recruiting international companies and R&D facilities.

After leaving government, Pearson joined Sanford Holshouser L.L.P., concentrating his practice in the areas of corporate law, international law, public finance, commercial real estate development, corporate relocation, and corporate growth and financing.

Jim Holshouser was elected governor in 1972 after four terms in the General Assembly, where he was vice chairman of the House Judiciary and Rules Committees. As the state’s chief executive, he served on the executive committee of the National Governors Conference and as chairman of the Southern Growth Policies Board.

Holshouser is active in North Carolina higher education. He is a member emeritus of the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina, where he chaired the personnel and budget committees; served on the Board of Trustees of Davidson College and the Board of Advisors of Lees McRae College; and chaired the Board of Trustees of St. Andrews Presbyterian College. He is currently on the advisory board for the new law school at Elon University.

Holshouser is a member of the Real Estate Section of the North Carolina Bar Association.

Tom Johnson concentrates his practice in the area of real estate, assisting clients with closing loan transactions, preparing commercial leases for retail and office space, commercial development and financing, and other related issues. He is a Board-Certified Specialist in Real Property – Business, Commercial, Industrial, and Residential Transactions.

Johnson also represents businesses in planning, zoning, and land use matters throughout eastern North Carolina and has extensive experience in the formation of business entities, contracts, secured transactions and mergers, and business litigation.

A former member of the Greenville, N.C., city council, he has a broad background in telecommunications as well, handling matters related to placing wireless networks in North and South Carolina.

Sam Whitt has represented corporate clients ranging from start-up ventures to Fortune 500 companies. He handles mergers, acquisitions, and a variety of transactional matters.

He served as general counsel, chief operating officer, and president of several venture-backed companies, and has an extensive background working with start-up companies in the Research Triangle Park. Whitt has also participated in numerous venture-financing activities, providing counsel on business development, corporate strategy, and financial issues.
His experience includes working with numerous tax-exempt entities engaged in economic development throughout North Carolina. Additionally, he has practiced in the area of estate planning, with a focus on trusts and foundations.

Nexsen Pruet, LLC is one of the largest law firms in the Carolinas, with more than 170 attorneys and offices in Columbia, Charleston, Greenville, Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh, N. C.  Founded in 1945, Nexsen Pruet provides a broad range of legal services to the business community and represents companies from other entities in local, state, national and international venues.   For more information, go to