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City or suburbs? Firms see benefits in both settings (access required)

When Smith Anderson's lease in a downtown Raleigh building came up for renewal this year, the firm had its pick. The recession had pushed rents lower, and high vacancy rates made it a tenant's market. But after a decision-making process that included looking at locations both in and out of town, North Carolina's ninth largest law firm decided to stay put, keeping its staff of over 200 in the Wachovia building on Fayetteville Street. "We looked at existing buildings in Raleigh and the Triangle," said Carl Patterson Jr., managing partner of Smith Anderson Blount Dorsett Mitchell & Jernigan, speaking from his office in the rose-slate tower that helped redefine Raleigh's skyline. "But this is right in the middle of state government, the legislature. The Department of Revenue is here. Our clients interface with them all the time, and that's where we need to be."

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