It was 14 years ago today…

April 11th, 2017

Looking Back on Bray & Long’s 14th Anniversary

April 3, 2017
By William Bray

I officially hung a shingle for the firm formerly known as The Bray Law Firm on April 3, 2003. I recently visited my grandmother who still has my original business card on her refrigerator (at least the phone number is still the same!).

Seeing that old card was like opening a time capsule. In addition to our “normal” practice, the rear of the card promoted what was then my plan to overtake Legal Zoom in the Carolinas – CarolinaBusinessLaw.com. We even had a unique logo designed for what was really nothing more than a branding creation to solicit flat-fee corporate services such as incorporation.

CarolinaBusinessLaw.com didn’t last long within the confines of The Bray Law Firm. My email address (wbray@carolinabusinesslaw.com) was WAY too long and there really was no reason to differentiate between the “low cost” brand and the “real law firm” brand because – back in 2003 – everything we did was low cost! If you had a retainer, we would figure out a way to accommodate you.

We shared office space with Chris Fialko over on Camden Road in South End. Chris remains a good friend and is one of the best criminal defense attorneys anywhere. The only drawback to that relationship was his dedication to the Cincinnati Reds (but at least he was a baseball guy!).

In 2004 we moved to Hedgemore Plaza off of Montford Road where we stayed for 6 years. We maintained a focus on business litigation and general corporate representation, but industry opportunities and my background in sports marketing took the practice in a unique direction. Here is an advertisement from that era.

If I were asked to pinpoint when the current “version” of the firm began to evolve, it would be 2007 when Stacy Allison joined in the dual role as my paralegal (or as she might say, my babysitter) and our office manager. Stacy brought a level of knowledge and professionalism from her Big Law days which helped me in more ways than I can count.

Then came September 29, 2008 when the stock market crashed. We wouldn’t see the real impact of the financial crisis on our small business clients for months or, in some cases, years. But it would indeed be felt, especially among our clients in motorsports – primarily NASCAR. Sponsorship withered away, and with it went all of the routine business we handled in setting up new teams, negotiating new deals and generally being on retainer for countless teams, drivers, sponsors and vendors.

Fortunately for me – and for the future of the firm – Jeff Long joined me in January of 2010. I give full credit to Jeff for insisting that the firm move its focus away from sports & entertainment and into a more traditional corporate practice. His reasoning was sound – we were just over one year into the financial crisis and work was drying up faster in that industry than in any other. We immediately redesigned the website to better promote our traditional corporate practice and business litigation services, and since then we haven’t looked back.

2010 also was the year we left Hedgemore Plaza and moved to our current offices on Selwyn Avenue in the Myers Park neighborhood of Charlotte. Hedgemore Plaza was a terrific space for a young firm, but Tranquil Court is where we always needed to be. The space and the location fit our attitude and philosophy perfectly (and, yes, it is right across the street from Selwyn Pub!).

Shortly thereafter, we officially renamed the firm Bray & Long.

Since 2010, we’ve progressively grown and consistently added great and talented people. Brendan Dillashaw came on board in 2011 with a wealth of experience in commercial real estate and corporate transactions. Charlie Bridgmon joined up in 2013 and added strength to our litigation practice. They both became partners in 2016, and we are a better firm for it. Finally, we added a new associate in 2016, Simon O’Brien, who is working in our corporate practice group and showing us all up with his dedicated work ethic. And effective May 1, we will be adding a sixth attorney – more to come on that later!

Our staff is the backbone of the firm. Stacy opened our “coastal office” a couple of years ago but continues to manage things remotely. Noelle Patterson and Laura Stefanelli are our rock-star paralegals and Melissa Lundstedt keeps us all straight from the front desk.

In short, this place has truly developed into the “home” I envisioned when I opened the doors in 2003. We offer sophisticated legal services in a boutique atmosphere. We spend time with our kids, but always find time for our clients.

Please pardon this “fluff piece” but I felt compelled to spend some time today reflecting on these past 14 years. As we enter Year 15, we are better positioned than ever to compete for corporate, transactional and litigation business with any firm in the region.

Thanks to our clients, our friends, our colleagues and most importantly our families for your collective support. We intend to continue working hard to make you proud and to deliver exceptional legal services.

William