By James Forrest

non prof challenge ff2016 was a big year for us, as we celebrated the firm’s fifth anniversary (we’ll be 6 on January 1, 2017!).

At the beginning of the year, our then small team set some ambitious goals for growing the firm’s client roster, becoming a certified B corporation, adding new people with new capabilities to benefit our clients, and finding meaningful and impactful ways to give back to the communities we serve.

I’m happy to say, as we close out 2016, that we achieved everything we set out to do.

More than 400 clients engaged us in the last calendar year for the first time!  We are hopeful that we will be a life-long resource and value-add for these clients as they grow their business ventures.

A_BCorp_logo_POSIn May, we proudly announced our organization as a certified B corporation, which means we focus on multiple areas of long-term good: benefiting the larger communities we serve, creating sustainable working environments for our legal professionals, and making even greater commitments to social and environmental responsibility. We are the largest North Carolina law firm to hold the certified B corp designation.

To properly serve the needs of our growing client base, the Forrest Firm added a host of new attorneys and administrative professionals while opening offices in Winston-Salem (May) and Raleigh (August), as well as Wilmington (August) and Chapel Hill (December).   With our increased headcount, we added new practice areas in litigation, trademarks and copyrights, estate planning, and healthcare.

Attorneys who joined the firm in 2016 include:

cfwitIn April, we launched our first Non-Profit Challenge, where we helped five non-profits launch and establish 501(c)(3) status. The winning non-profits, Cape Fear Women in Tech (Wilmington), Carroll’s Kitchen (Raleigh), Har-vest Acres (Hillsborough),  Help Keep Hope (Chapel Hill), and Oasis of Hope International (Raleigh) have become some of our most beloved clients as they look to change the world.

In August, we sent five middle-schoolers to summer camp at Hope Community Church, a fast-growing community of faith in Wake County. We have long supported charities and faith-based organizations that invest in the physical, emotional, and spiritual development of our children, and we were proud to continue this practice in 2016.

To round out our year of celebration, we announced partnerships to boost employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in North Carolina, through Durham’s ReCity Network and Code the Dream of the Triangle area. ReCity, an employment incubator, seeks to expand economic opportunities in Durham for the city’s disconnected youth through working with other non-profits, for-profits, and faith-based communities. In addition to our sponsorship of ReCity’s coffee bar, Forrest Firm attorneys will spend regular office hours on-site, advising startup entrepreneurs springing from this renewal effort.

code-the-dream-300x200Code the Dream is a high impact program aimed at bringing greater minority and immigrant participation in the tech economy. Operated by North Carolina non-profit Uniting NC and supported by individual and corporate donors, Code the Dream is providing a gateway for immigrants and minorities to enjoy careers in the state’s tech economy. Participants in Code the Dream classes learn basic and advanced coding skills, even developing their first apps before they leave class. Since program participants attend tuition-free, our donation will be used to support new enrollees looking to enter one of North Carolina’s most vibrant industries.

Thank you again to all of our clients, families, and friends, as we’ve grown together in 2016. We are grateful for each of you here at the Forrest Firm, and we can’t wait to see what happens in 2017. We wish you all great success in the new year!