Respected, Responsive & Resourceful
Bailey & Dixon has been regarded as one of North Carolina's most experienced and trusted law firms concentrating in administrative, business and insurance law, civil litigation, and governmental relations.
We are not, and never will be, the largest law firm measured by number of offices or lawyers. Rather, we offer the experience and expertise of a large firm coupled with personal attention and cost efficiency necessary to resolve your problems.
Bailey & Dixon is distinguished by our commitment to integrity, our excellence in representing client needs, and our track record of success.
History of Bailey & Dixon, LLP
The attorneys who established Bailey & Dixon had the vision, ability and determination to build a first-rate law firm. Our size is and has been a deliberate, thoughtful process - we reject the notion that bigger is better. Practically all of our partners were originally associates. We are proud of our collegial environment, based upon mutual professional respect and personal friendships.
Thanks for allowing us to share some of our history with you.
I. M. Bailey began practicing law in North Carolina at the height of World War I - 1916. From his first client onward, Mr. Bailey insisted on providing the highest quality legal service with utmost commitment to integrity. For over 90 years, lawyers at Bailey & Dixon have continuously strived to meet these high standards.
Mr. Bailey's commitment to law as a profession began early in his career, evidenced by his speech, "The Bar Association's Influence on Young Lawyers" to the North Carolina Bar Association's annual meeting in 1921.
During the 1925 legislative session, I. M. Bailey served as a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives representing Onslow County. The first bill the new representative introduced was an act amending the licensing of attorneys at law, requiring at least a high school education. Mr. Bailey's abilities were reflected in his legislative committee assignments to Judiciary, Finance, and Trustees of the University of North Carolina.
Representative Bailey's 1925 General Assembly created the Advisory Budget Commission, making the Governor responsible for preparing the state's budget with the General Assembly approving it. Ever since this act, North Carolina has enjoyed a balanced budget.
This legislative session also empowered the Corporation Commission to supervise and regulate North Carolina's business, financial and industrial organizations. The Commission would later become the North Carolina Utilities Commission and State Banking Commission.
Following the 1925 legislative term, Governor Angus McLean appointed I. M. Bailey General Counsel to the Corporation Commission and Assistant Securities Commissioner. In March 1929, Governor O. Max Gardner elevated Mr. Bailey to Corporation Commissioner and Securities Commissioner until February 1930, when he again served as General Counsel.
The 1920s were a time of unparalleled prosperity for the nation, fueled in large part by leveraged stock market speculation, ending abruptly with "Black Tuesday" on October 29, 1929. Against an ever-increasingly dire economic situation, Bailey successfully defended the North Carolina Corporation Commission before the North Carolina Supreme Court in the appeal of D. S. Murphey in a stockbroker liability matter.
North Carolina banks had made loans to individuals based upon the value of stock as collateral. As stock values plummeted, banks scrambled to cover the difference between outstanding speculative loans and worthless stock collateral. Unable to do so, they failed - collapsing the nation's financial system. The chain reaction continued down the business line, with many small businesses going bankrupt. In 1930 alone, 88 North Carolina banks and 233 savings and loans failed, impoverishing businesses and individuals, with many families losing their homes.
Elected President of the National Association of Securities Commissioners in 1930, I. M. Bailey directed national efforts to enact standard methods of valuing preferred and common stocks, prevent stock pool manipulation and set maximum selling commissions.
In July 1931, Bailey resigned as Corporation General Counsel to open law offices for general practice in the Raleigh Banking and Trust Company Building. He joined Wake County's ranks of 152 lawyers, most practicing near the courthouse on Fayetteville, Salisbury, Martin or Hargett streets. Only 18 Raleigh law firms had two or more attorneys in 1930. Further, timing to start a private law practice seemed inauspicious. In 1932, there were 1,862 licensed attorneys in North Carolina, 562 of whom earned less than $1,000 annually.
Nevertheless, by concentrating his practice in corporate and business law with some lobbying before the General Assembly, I. M. Bailey was doing well enough in practice by 1933 to add a young associate, William Carroll Lassiter, recent Duke Law graduate and son of the owner of the Smithfield Herald newspaper. Lassiter left the firm in 1948 to become general counsel and chief lobbyist for the North Carolina Press Association.
I. M. Bailey demonstrated why clients valued his advice and counsel by successfully representing the Commissioner of Banks Gurney P. Hood before the North Carolina Supreme Court in the appeal of an important banking matter. Throughout his legal career, Bailey served as North Carolina Counsel to the Greyhound Corporation, general counsel to the State Bankers Association and North Carolina Merchants Association for legal and legislative matters.
He was a leader in the profession, elevating the standards of legal practice by helping to found the North Carolina State Bar, then serving as its first elected President for two terms from 1933 to 1935.
World War II saw the next generation of North Carolina attorneys fighting for their country, with future founding law partner Wright T. Dixon, Jr., serving as an officer with the Marine Corps in Guam and China.
I. M. Bailey's son, J. Ruffin Bailey, served in the Army Air Corps flying more than 2000 hours "over the hump" in the China-Burma-India theater from 1941 to 1945, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Meanwhile, I. M. Bailey served as North Carolina chairman for the U. S. Government's war bond sales campaign.
Ruffin Bailey returned from the war to enter the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill law school, graduating in the famous post-war 1948 law school class. As Raleigh's Cameron Village Shopping Center began construction, Bailey joined Bailey, Holding & Lassiter, as a law clerk at the munificent sum of $225 per month.
Graduating in the 1948 UNC Law class enabled Ruffin Bailey to call upon a classmate in almost every North Carolina county, for any matter he needed help with in a particular county, and his classmates had a reliable colleague in Raleigh.
The senior Mr. Bailey mentored Ruffin Bailey, showing him around the General Assembly, tutoring him in business law, while successfully litigating for transportation companies and railroads before the North Carolina and United States Supreme Courts. I. M. Bailey enjoyed challenging his son with his high legal work standards for three years, before dying unexpectedly of a stroke in 1951 at age 59.
His father's sudden death made Ruffin Bailey "a very new lawyer in a solo practice." Although many of his father's clients moved to other lawyers, most of the trucking and transportation industry stayed with Ruffin. He successfully represented a trucking company in keeping its special use certificate against challenge by competitors before the North Carolina Supreme Court, while handling other regulatory and rate cases before the North Carolina Utilities Commission.
Ruffin Bailey continued to do extensive work before the Utilities Commission in addition to juggling legislative and corporate practices. Increasingly the workload became overwhelming and he needed good help. Ruffin approached his childhood friend, Wright T. Dixon, Jr., who received his UNC law degree in 1951. Dixon joined the practice in 1956, establishing the name of our present firm.
Dixon concentrated on building and running the firm's litigation practice, while Bailey continued to work with regulatory, insurance and banking clients. As their success grew, the 7th floor of the Raleigh Banking and Trust Company Building became cramped, so the firm moved to more spacious quarters at the First Federal Building in 1961.
An experienced litigator, Wright Dixon demonstrated his litigation prowess in a key case establishing that a baseball league has a duty to use due care in protecting baseball umpires against attacks by frenzied fans. In another display of courtroom skills, Dixon observed the jury refusing to look at his client after returning from deliberations. Before the judge could question the jury about their unfavorable verdict against his client, Wright jumped to his feet and moved for a voluntary dismissal. The General Assembly stopped any other lawyer from using Wright's quick thinking by outlawing the practice.
Wright Dixon's career highlights a further commitment to professional service as President of both the Wake County Bar and North Carolina State Bar. Upon becoming State Bar President, he faced a particularly challenging task. Previously in the year, several North Carolina attorneys confessed to embezzling or mishandling more than $1 million of clients' funds, potentially tarnishing all lawyers' reputations.
Through newspapers, radio and television, Dixon informed the public about the State Bar's client security fund, established by an annual fifty-dollar attorney fee, to reimburse the victims of embezzlement by lawyers. By publicizing State Bar disciplinary actions taken against lawyers who violated the public's trust and state laws, Dixon demonstrated to both lawyers and clients that complaints were taken seriously.
One of Raleigh's trial lawyers, Roger W. Smith, summarized fellow litigator Wright Dixon as, "...a man of great moral courage. I've never seen him intimidated by anyone or any task." The profession honored him with the Wake County Bar's Joseph Branch Professionalism Award. Dixon's style and skills continue to be reflected in the trial lawyers he mentored, practicing in Bailey & Dixon's litigation section.
Restless with law practice, bitten by the political bug, Ruffin Bailey filed for a State Senate seat in January 1964. Running against a House representative and a former Raleigh mayor, Bailey stated "I can't promise anything to anyone except to devote my full time and to give full, fair, and honest consideration in all phases of the people's business with which I come in contact."
Elected in November 1964 over his opponents, Senator Bailey served four terms in the North Carolina General Assembly from 1965 to 1973. He was Chairman of the Courts and Judicial Districts Committee, Legislative Study Commission on Compulsory Insurance and Vice Chair of both the Public Utilities Commission and the Judiciary Commission. His work as Chairman of the Courts Commission created landmark reform judicial legislation establishing statewide uniform district courts.
After his legislative service, Bailey returned to lobbying, perennially ranking among the most effective and influential legislative representatives in North Carolina history. He had impeccable "integrity and credibility," lobbying 25 years for clients such as the Property and Casualty Insurance industry, the North Carolina Beer Wholesalers Association and the North Carolina Credit Union League.
Part of Bailey's success as a lobbyist was due to his humor and unwavering honesty. North Carolina Representative Sam Johnson said, "If Ruffin told you something, it was correct. You could take it to the bank." Gleefully, Bailey freely distributed printed cards with his favorite quotation, "No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session."
Both Ruffin Bailey and Wright Dixon oversaw their firm's final move to the Two Hannover Square building in downtown Raleigh during October 1991, while continuing to maintain active practices and mentoring young associates before their retirement.
From the firm's origins, Bailey & Dixon's commitment to public service and the practice of law has affected North Carolina. Over the years, Bailey & Dixon attorneys served as counsel to boards and commissions, legislators and state agencies. Our attorneys served as House and Senate members of the North Carolina General Assembly, as Speaker of the North Carolina House, as Judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and as a North Carolina Supreme Court Justice.
Prior Bailey & Dixon attorneys served as Wake County and North Carolina State Bar Association Presidents, and in innumerable professional and civic leadership positions. This service commitment lives on today through our lawyers and staff, who provide civic leadership and pro bono legal representation to individuals and institutions in our communities, continuing the tradition of service that distinguishes us from other law firms.