Raleigh law firm Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton is expanding its capabilities in the banking arena by adding a boutique law firm that has made a name for itself among the state’s community bankers.
The addition of the four-lawyer firm of Gaeta & Eveson, which is also based in Raleigh, gives Wyrick Robbins a total of 73 attorneys.
The move is being announced Friday, which is also when the deal closes.
“With their banking and regulatory expertise and our (corporate capital-raising and merger-and-acquisitions) expertise, we think the combination will resonate well with middle-market and regional banks,” said Jimmy Yates, Wyrick’s managing partner.
Gaeta & Eveson, which has a client roster of 25 banks – compared with just two at Wyrick Robbins – was founded in 1999 by Tony Gaeta. Among Gaeta & Eveson’s clients in the Triangle are CapStone Bank, Harrington Bank, Paragon Commercial Bank, Piedmont Community Bank Holdings and TrustAtlantic Bank.
“With four lawyers at Gaeta & Eveson, we are putting ourselves in a position to compete ... with the larger law firms,” Gaeta said.
The respect Gaeta has accumulated in the community banking sector isn’t limited to his legal acumen, said Bill Wagner, a Raleigh-based investment banker with Raymond James.
“Tony is more than an attorney – in many cases he is an adviser,” Wagner said. “He is highly respected for his business judgment.”
Wagner added that Gaeta and partner Todd Eveson have “gained the confidence of a lot of the community banks in this state.”
Eveson has been named head of Wyrick Robbins’ banking and financial institutions practice, which previously consisted of a single lawyer. Gaeta, 68, is joining the firm in an “Of Counsel” capacity, which sometimes refers to a distinguished attorney who isn’t practicing on a full-time basis.
“It doesn’t mean I’m going away,” Gaeta said. “I’m going to keep doing what I do.” But, he said, “Yes, I will slow down some.”
“I turned 68 last week,” Gaeta said. “Being in the trenches is a young lawyer’s game.”
Gaeta also teaches at the law school at UNC-Chapel Hill and noted that five Wyrick Robbins attorneys are former students of his.