Volume 35 No. 8
From the President Time to Hit the Bar? As the waves of recession sweep over our community and our profession, many attorneys are not sure how to react, what resources are available, and how they can take steps to minimize John Lassiter, the effects of economic MCB President downturn on their practices, their financial picture, and their personal life. Let me suggest that it may be a very good time to look at the resources offered by your Bar. Continuing Legal Education: Our CLE program is a low-cost way to meet your licensing requirements. Our programs are generally cheaper than other providers, rarely require travel, and help keep the pressure off the dues that support Bar activities. Perhaps most important in the changing legal environment, a CLE program can help you expand your practice into areas that might be a little foggy from law school or your early days of practice. (See page 2 for the current list of CLE programs.) Lawyers Referral Service: LRS is a fee service that matches panel members with potential clients through a reduced initial consultation fee. During tougher times, more disputes often arise and access to a client pool may strengthen your bottom line. Indigent Representation: Many lawyers begin their practice by getting on the appointment list, but experienced attorneys can also supplement their caseload by representing criminal indigent defendants. Community Outreach and Volunteer Lawyers Programs: With a few less hours to bill, many of us have some time to give back to our community. Our Community Outreach Program sends volunteers into our schools to mentor and often help educate students on the legal system and justice. Our VLP matches our lawyers with several pro bono opportunities with legal services organizations and through our Wills & Estates and Pro Bono for Nonprofits programs. (See page 4 to learn more about participating in our VLP.) Sections: Our Bar has sections ranging from business law to criminal justice. Joining a section may create networking opportunities for referral or conflicts work or a way to renew relationships. Make sure you are well known in your practice area or perhaps in an area you want to develop an expertise. (See page 3 for YLS activities.) LawyerLife Resources: Too often, attorneys fail to seek help with their personal and professional lives and small issues can become big problems. Our LawyerLife Resource Committee offers a rich service for financial, substance abuse, mental illness, and other challenges that may need attention when your professional or personal life is less than satisfactory. (Consider the situation some of us face in the Committee’s column on page 5.) Take a little time and visit www.meckbar.org to learn more about your Bar. It may help you weather the economy and improve your practice.
MCB Undertakes History Book Project To Mark Hundredth Anniversary Sensing the importance of capturing the story of our heritage for present and future generations, the Mecklenburg County Bar (MCB) has commissioned a written history, to be published on the occasion of its official 100th anniversary in 2012. In an era in which the MCB is growing exponentially, we are in danger of losing sight of a rich history that stretches back over more than two centuries. The proposed history will cover this Bar’s evolution from the days when Waightstill Avery, the first local lawyer, wrote out his pleadings with a quill pen to today’s technological era, from one lawyer to over 4,100. It will trace our evolution from scattered law offices around the early courthouses in the town center through the East Trade Street Law Building, the center of the local profession when our older living members began their careers, to the downtown towers and neighborhood law offices of today. It will trace that history in the context of the landmark events that have shaped us: from colonial times, when Charlotte was a small crossroads town, through the Civil War and Reconstruction, two World Wars, the Great Depression, and our struggle to emerge from the dark legacy of slavery to the shining symbol of the New South we have become in the twenty-first century. It will focus not only on those who have been our leaders, but also on the stories of those who have typified our Bar from time to time, including our rich legacy of colorful characters whose stories should not be lost. The committee created to oversee this task has selected Howard Covington and Marion Ellis to research and write the history. Former local newspaper reporters turned historians and biographers, they
bring with them an understanding of the history of both the legal profession and Charlotte. In addition to individually authored histories and biographies, their joint works include a 50-year history of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a history of NationsBank, the acclaimed biography of Governor and Senator Terry Sanford. We anticipate that Covington and Ellis will interview many of you. They will be seeking historical materials from every available source, and not just from the Bar’s own files. They have asked that all the members of the Bar begin to search their recollections and their files for materials that could aid their effort. Financing the writing and publishing of this history, the total cost of which will probably run well over $100,000, will come from funds from the Bar and the Bar Foundation, gifts from lawyers and law firms, and book sales. The Bar will soon mount a formal drive to solicit your contributions and pledges. Julius Chambers and Ozzie Ayscue have agreed to be the honorary chairs of this fund drive. A working campaign committee led by Jerry Parnell will soon be appointed. A group of past presidents of the Bar have already made a substantial advance gift, so that we can move quickly to enter into a formal contract and put the writers to work. We will happily accept more gifts and pledges, payable to the Mecklenburg Bar Foundation, with the notation “Bar History Project.” Please mail them to Bar History, 438 Queens Road, Charlotte, NC 28207. Your suggestions and offers to donate archival materials that may be of use to the authors should be directed to MCB Executive Director Nancy Roberson (firstname.lastname@example.org or 704/375-8624).
MCB Board Nominating Committee 2009–10 Members In accordance with Section 3, Article V of the bylaws of the Mecklenburg County Bar (MCB), the Board of Directors has approved the following persons to serve as members of the 2009–10 Nominating Committee: Hon. Lisa C. Bell George V. Hanna III Diane E. Blackburn Jerry W. Jernigan Aretha V. Blake Mark R. Kutny Ray S. Farris Lynwood E. Mallard Debra L. Foster Timika Shafeek-Horton Ronald L. Gibson John N. Suhr, Jr. Peter S. Gilchrist III Robert C. Stephens, as Immediate Past President of the Mecklenburg County Bar, serves as Chair of the Nominating Committee. Executive Director Nancy M. Roberson serves as staff liaison to this committee.
Procedures for Nomination The Committee encourages interested members of the Mecklenburg County Bar to submit their names or the names of other active members of the Bar to the Nominating Committee for consideration as nominees for various offices and board of directors’ seats for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2009, prior to March 24, 2009. Please note that nominees must agree to serve prior to being officially nominated. Names should be
submitted to either a member of the Committee (listed above), Robert C. Stephens as Chair of Committee, Nancy M. Roberson as Executive Director, or mailed to Nominating Committee, c/o MCB, 438 Queens Road, Charlotte, NC 28207 by that date. The Nominating Committee will meet on March 24, 2009, at 5:00 p.m. in the Boardroom at the MCB Center at 438 Queens Road. Members may elect to appear at 5:00 p.m. to nominate a member. A list of the persons nominated by the Committee shall be published on the MCB website and in the April 2009 newsletter and will be presented to the membership at the Annual Meeting of the MCB. Additional nominations may also be made from the floor at the Annual Meeting. The Committee shall nominate persons to serve in the following offices for the 2009–10 term: President-Elect (one-year term) Vice President (one-year term) Secretary (one-year term) Treasurer (one-year term) Board of Directors (six members—three-year terms—two of whom are young lawyers). (See MCB Bylaws at www.meckbar.org in the Handbook under Resources.)
Consider the MCB CLE Advantage Your Bar offers high-quality, incredibly convenient, and cost-effective continuing legal education programs right here in Mecklenburg County. The feedback on our accreditation and evaluation forms consistently rates our training as excellent. We offer live and replay CLEs here at the Bar Center, other local sites, and even at your own office as well as online programs right at your desk 24/7. Our programs are competitively priced—with rarely any additional longdistance travel expenses. And our customer service is friendly, competent, and knowledgeable. Support your local Bar by getting your CLE credits through the courses listed below.
Live Programs Constitutional Tales: North Carolina’s Education Constitution CLE Credit: 1.0 Ethics and 1.0 General Date: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 Time: Registration 12:30 p.m. Program 1:00–3:00 p.m. Location: Levine Museum of the New South Fees: $120 attorney rate; $55 paralegal rate Americans with Disabilities Act: New Impacts in the Web Environment CLE Credit: 1.0 General Date: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 Time: Registration 12:00 p.m. Program 12:30–1:30 p.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $75 attorney rate; $35 paralegal rate The Ethics of E-Mail and Other Communications CLE Credit: 1.0 Ethics Date: Thursday, February 19, 2009 Time: Registration 12:00 p.m. Program 12:30–1:30 p.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $75 attorney rate; $35 paralegal rate Civil Litigation Forum Sponsored by MCB Civil Litigation Section CLE Credit: 6.0 total Date: Friday, February 20, 2009 Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Program 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. Location: Crowne Plaza Hotel Fees: $275 attorney rate; $250 MCB Civil Litigation Section member rate; $135 paralegal rate Do You Manage Stress or Does Stress Manage You: Rethinking Stress Management for the Lawyer & the Firm CLE Credit: 1.0 Mental Health/Substance Abuse and 0.5 Ethics Date: Monday, February 23, 2009 Time: Registration 12:00 p.m. Program 12:30–2:00 p.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $90 attorney rate; $45 paralegal rate Estate Planning Series Sponsored by MCB Estate Planning Section CLE Credit: 1.0 Ethics Date: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 (Session 4) Time: Registration 7:45 a.m. Program 8:00–9:00 a.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $55 single session attorney rate; $30 single session paralegal rate
In-House Video Replays You can bring CLE video replays to your firm by contacting CLE Coordinator Lisa Armanini (email@example.com) or CLE Assistant Sally Kenney (firstname.lastname@example.org). Just guarantee that at least three attorneys will view the course and give Lisa or Sally 30-days notice. Video replay hours do not count towards the four-hour online allotment.
Online Programs Online CLE Program at www.meckbar.org. On demand, available 24 hours. State requirements allow up to 4 hours of online courses annually—video and live programs do not count towards that total. Customer service line 800/590-6867. MCB endorses only Education Over the Net as our online hosting service.
State Court View From the Bench Sponsored by the MCB Family Law Section CLE Credit: 1.5 General Date: Thursday, February 26, 2009 Time: Registration 12:00 p.m. Program 12:30–2:00 p.m. Location: Mecklenburg County Courthouse Fees: $75 attorney rate; $35 paralegal rate Legal Writing: Plain Language for Lawyers CLE Credit: 3.0 General Date: Friday, February 27, 2009 Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Program 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $175 attorney rate; $95 paralegal rate Technology in the Courtroom CLE Credit: 2.0 General Date: Thursday, March 12, 2009 Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Program 9:00–11:00 a.m. Location: Charlotte School of Law Fees: $110 attorney rate; $50 paralegal rate Immigration Update for the Bench and Bar Sponsored by the MCB Immigration & Nationality Section CLE Credit: 4.0 General or 7.0 General with afternoon pro bono session Date: Friday, March 13, 2009 Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Program 9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. and 2:00–5:00 p.m. pro bono session on Violence Against Immigrant Women’s Act Location: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center Meeting Chamber Fees: $175 attorney rate for morning session; $95 paralegal rate for morning session Practice Before the Clerk CLE Credit: 3.0 General Date: Friday, April 24, 2009 Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Program 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $150 attorney rate; $75 paralegal rate Bankruptcy Forum 2009 CLE Credit: 6.0 total Date: Friday, May 8, 2009 Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Program 9:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Location: TBD Fees: TBD
Professionalism and Leadership Seminar at Sea CLE Credit: 7.5 Ethics and 1.5 Mental Health/Substance Abuse Dates: June 17, 2009, through June 25, 2009 Time: TBA Location: Regent Cruise Line Alaska Voyage Fee: $450 CLE only (does not include travel and cruise expenses)
Video Replays Discovering New Ways to Represent Your Clients More Effectively: Therapeutic Jurisprudence CLE Credit: 2.0 Ethics and 1.0 Mental Health/Substance Abuse Date: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 Time: Registration 15 minutes prior to program Program 9:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $150 attorney rate; $75 paralegal rate Residential and Commercial LandlordTenant Law 2008 Practical & Ethical Concerns CLE Credit: 3.0 General and 1.0 Ethics Date: Monday, March 9, 2009 Time: Registration 15 minutes prior to program Program 12:00–4:00 p.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $175 attorney rate; $110 pro bono attorney rate; $90 paralegal rate Lawyer Anxiety and Personality Disorders 2008 CLE Credit: 1.0 Mental Health/Substance Abuse Date: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 Time: Registration 15 minutes prior to program Program 12:30–1:30 p.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $75 attorney rate; $35 paralegal rate A Practical and Ethical Approach to E-Discovery CLE Credit: 2.0 General and 1.0 Ethics Date: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 Time: Registration 15 minutes prior to the program Program 12:00–3:00 p.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $150 attorney rate; $75 paralegal rate
MCB Award Nominations Sought 2009 Chambers Diversity Champion Award Nominations are being sought for the Mecklenburg County Bar (MCB) Julius L. Chambers Diversity Champion Award. Nominee names and information supporting your nominations should be sent by February 25, 2009, to Stephanie A. Marella, Diversity Coordinator, by mail MCB, 438 Queens Road, Charlotte, NC 28207 or via e-mail email@example.com. The award will be presented at the McMillan Fund Dinner on April 14, 2009 (see page 7 for details). The purpose of the Julius L. Chambers Diversity Champion Award is to recognize an individual who embodies high ethical standards, unquestioned integrity, consistent competence, and who champions diversity in the legal profession. Criteria may include one or more of the following: • facilitates recruitment, hiring, retention, and promotion of diverse individuals in the legal profession •
provides outstanding service and education to the community at large by unifying and uplifting diverse people of all backgrounds
promotes ideals of diversity in the legal profession.
Upcoming YLS Activities BY ANNE RANDALL, CHAIR, YOUNG LAWYERS SECTION
Volunteer for Ask-a-Lawyer Day The Young Lawyers Section (YLS) of the Mecklenburg County Bar (MCB) is preparing for the annual Ask-a-Lawyer Day, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, February 21, 2009, at the West Boulevard Public Library. The Ask-aLawyer program is a one-day, walk-in clinic where members of the Bar can provide free legal advice to members of the community. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Lauren Vaughn (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Nick Cushing (email@example.com).
Help with the Big Read Photography Contest The YLS and the Criminal Justice Section of the MCB are sponsoring a photography competition for high school and college students as part of the Big Read, a month-long event organized by the Mecklenburg County Library. The book for the Mecklenburg County Big Read is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and competitors are asked to take a photograph that gives a glimpse into what it would be like to walk around in that student’s shoes. The YLS and the Criminal Justice Section will vote on winners for each grade level (ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, and college undergraduate) and an ultimate winner for the County on February 26, 2009, at the YLS Winter Social. If you would like to help with the competition, please contact Anne Randall (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Chip Howes (email@example.com).
2008–09 VLP Pro Bono Awards The MCB Volunteer Lawyers Program welcomes nominations for the 2008–09 Pro Bono Awards. This year’s categories are: I. Outstanding Individual Attorney II. Outstanding Large Firm with 25 attorneys or more III. Outstanding Small Firm with 24 attorneys or less. Winners will receive their awards at the MCB Annual Meeting on May 21, 2009. Please submit nominations in writing before March 20, 2009. Any attorney, law firm, or organization may submit nominations. Nominations should state relevant information including types of volunteer work performed, the number of pro bono hours worked (if known), and the impact of the nominee’s volunteer work. Please send nominations to VLP@meckbar.org or MCB VLP, 438 Queens Road, Charlotte, NC 28207.
2009 Liberty Bell Award The Law Day Committee is accepting nominations for the 2009 Liberty Bell Award. The award, which will be presented at the upcoming Law Day Luncheon on May 1, 2009, is our Bar’s highest honor for a non-lawyer. The purpose of the award is
to recognize community service that has strengthened the American system of freedom under the law. The following criteria govern consideration by the committee to recognize outstanding service by a non-lawyer in one of these areas: 1. Promoting a better understanding of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. 2. Encouraging greater respect for law and the courts. 3. Stimulating a deeper sense of individual responsibility so that citizens recognize their duties as well as their rights. 4. Contributing to the effective functioning of our institutions of government. 5. Fostering a better understanding and appreciation of the rule of law. Please forward your nominations, including supporting materials and résumé of the nominee (if possible), by March 30, 2009, by mail (Liberty Bell Award, 438 Queens Road, Charlotte, NC 28207), by fax (704/333-6209, addressed to Liberty Bell Award), or by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: Liberty Bell Award). All nominations will be held in confidence.
James B. McMillan Fellowship Applications Available student. The application should describe Applications for the Fellowship are what the applicant will be doing for the now available from the Bar Office or agency and how that student’s interests online at www.meckbar.org. dovetail with the work to be performed. The James B. McMillan Fellowship Please contact Leah Reed at 704/375Fund was established in 1995 to honor the 8624, ext. 114, or Randy Phillips at memory and example of U. S. District 704/331-1048 if there are questions Judge James B. McMillan. The Fellowship’s concerning the application process. goal is to promote justice and innovation The application deadline is March 18, within the legal system in Mecklenburg James B. McMillan 2009, at 5:00 p.m. County, North Carolina, by Applications may be sent to awarding fellowships to law Save the Date for the Mecklenburg County Bar students desiring work McMillan Fund Dinner Center by mail (McMillan experience with not-for-profit Please note that an important source of Fellowship, 438 Queens or governmental agencies. support for these fellowships is the annual Road, Charlotte, NC 28207), The amount of the fellowship McMillan Fund Dinner. This year’s dinner by fax (704/333-6209, is up to $3,000 for a summer will be held on April 14, 2009, at Byron’s addressed to McMillan or fall semester placement. South End and will also feature the second Fellowship) or by e-mail The Fellowship annual presentation of the MCB Chambers Committee prefers Diversity Champion Award. We hope you’ll (email@example.com, subject line: McMillan Fellowship). applications submitted jointly save the date for this very special occasion. by the prospective employing Please see page 7 for more details. agency and an interested law
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Join Us at the YLS Winter Social The Winter Social will be on February 25, 2009, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Chima Brazilian Steakhouse (139 S. Tryon Street). Additional details are available www.meckbar.org and the MCB YLS Facebook page.
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New Coordinator Hired; More Volunteers Needed BY LARRY GWALTNEY AND SEAN PERRIN, CO-CHAIRS, VOLUNTEER LAWYER PROGRAM COMMITTEE The Volunteer Lawyer Program (VLP) Committee would like to welcome Mary Jordan Mullinax, the Mecklenburg County Bar’s new VLP and Lawyer Referral Service Coordinator. Mary Jordan joins the Bar following three years in Washington, D.C., with the American Bar Association (ABA). At the ABA, she worked with both the Division for Public Services and the Section of International Law. She brings to the position a repertoire of program development and committee management as well as knowledge of bar associations and their membership. Originally from Newton, North Carolina, she is a graduate of Duke University and is excited to return to her home state and work with a familiar constituency. “I thoroughly enjoyed serving the membership at the ABA, and I am even more excited to work closely with the Volunteer
Lawyer Program Committee to see that its goals are met,” she confirmed. The VLP Committee is eager to use Mary Jordan to the fullest as it continues to increase access to legal services by developing and expanding programs for volunteer attorneys. One of the key programs implemented by the Mecklenburg County Bar (MCB) VLP is the Pro Bono for Nonprofits initiative that strives to match attorneys with nonprofit organizations that are either in the beginning stages of development or are already established but have legal matters that need addressing. The attorneys, working on a pro bono basis, serve the nonprofits’ legal needs, whether it be filing their 501(c)(3) status or helping with issues arising after many years of incorporation. Mary Jordan will also solicit volunteers for the Wills & Estates program and the SelfServe Center while ensuring the MCB VLP continues to support its core community partners: Legal Aid of North Carolina, Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, and the Council for Children’s
Rights. The MCB VLP’s database of interested attorneys is extensive. Mary Jordan’s goal will be to ensure all lawyers listed remain interested in serving as possible volunteers by contacting each individually. More importantly, Mary Jordan will also implement a new recruitment focus. “While updating our current volunteer database, I hope to reach out to those already on our list and encourage them to discuss the VLP program with their colleagues in hopes of garnering even more support,” she says. “In these economic times, lawyers can serve many roles including ensuring that the needs of those organizations that help the public are met.” If you are interested in discussing the opportunities with the MCB Volunteer Lawyer Program, please do not hesitate to get in touch with her or one of the Committee Co-Chairs. Mary Jordan can be reached at 704/375-8624, ext. 115, and VLP Committee Co-Chairs Larry Gwaltney and Sean Perrin can be reached at 704/331-1000 and 704/331-4900 respectively.
Leary Bar 2009 program for students preparing for the North Carolina State Bar exam as well as expand its fundraising efforts to establish a scholarship for high school or college students. While keeping sight of the goals and purposes of the organization as imagined by John Sinclair Leary, in 2009, Leary Bar will restructure and strengthen its presence in the community, its relationships with its members, and its relationship with the Bar as a whole. We look forward to an exciting and productive new year.
TANISHA JOHNSON, CO–VICE CHAIR, JOHN S. LEARY BAR ASSOCIATION BY
The John S. Leary Bar Association for African-American Attorneys would like to thank its outgoing leadership and supporters for their work during the 2008 year. 2008 proved to be a productive year with Leary continuing some of its old traditions and creating new ones. On January 7, 2009, Leary elected its new executive board. The members are: (From left to right) 2009 Leary Bar Co-Chairs Phillips and Todd along with Co-Chairs T. Michael Todd and Lareena Co–Vice Chairs Johnson and Montgomery J. Phillips, Co–Vice Chairs Eric the community at large. In carrying on with old Montgomery and Tanisha Johnson, Secretary Valissia traditions, Leary plans to hold speaker forums in Allen, Treasurer Mike Navarro, and Parliamentarian hopes of creating opportunities to discuss topics with Donald Cureton. The 2009 executive board is a mix our community leaders, political leaders, and judges. of old and new leadership, with three of its leaders Leary also looks forward to continuing its relationship 2,338 sq ft. within recently renovated holding prior offices (T. Michael Todd former Chair, with the Mecklenburg County Bar by hopefully modern structure with furnished Eric Montgomery former Co-Chair and Treasurer, partnering with and supporting various MCB reception and option to share furnished and Mike Navarro former Treasurer). programs and initiatives in the coming year. conference rooms/receptionist. Goals for the 2009 year include increasing In addition to holding on to annual traditions Ample parking. Phone system furnished. membership and strengthening ties with other such as the Law Day Program, Holiday Party, and minority professionals. Leary also seeks to continue Call Kent Brown or Jon Moore at Fish Fry for new admittees, Leary plans on its commitment to the community with outreach 704/335-1500 or e-mail reinvigorating its mentorship program by pairing a programs that will target some of the most relevant firstname.lastname@example.org. new lawyer with a more experienced lawyer. Leary and pressing issues facing the legal community and would also like to begin working on a bar passage
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The Mecklenburg Bar News accepts editorial and advertising material of general legal interest to the practicing Bar of the 26th Judicial District. The implicit purposes of the newsletter, website, and related methods of communication are to educate members of the Mecklenburg County Bar and to create and maintain shared communication with its members. The Communications Committee reserves the right to accept, reject, or edit all material. DISCLAIMER Efforts will be made to provide information of interest that is timely, accurate, and relevant to the legal community. The Mecklenburg County Bar is not responsible for misprints, typographical errors, or misinformation in The Mecklenburg Bar News. The views and opinions are not necessarily those of the 26th Judicial District Bar. Communications Committee: Tricia Derr, Chair, Judge Bob Johnston, Mike Daisley, Alan Edmonds, Will Esser, Jon Goldberg, Allison Karp, Charles Keller, John Lassiter, Phillip Lewis, Valerie Munei, Nancy Roberson, Michael Shor, Russ Traw
How to Stop Litigating Ourselves Out of Good Relationships BY CHRIS OSBORN, CHAIR, LAWYERLIFE RESOURCE COMMITTEE
In honor of Valentine’s Day, the LawyerLife Resource Committee would like to take a moment to address a source of great hope and joy, as well as considerable struggle and disappointment, in the lives of busy lawyers: romantic relationships. The practice of law can be stressful at times, and stress in one area of life tends to bleed over into other areas of life. Our Valentine’s Day gift to you is, therefore, a point or two to ponder towards the end of greater peace and enjoyment of relationships with those we love. “You have got to not argue!” “What?” Rick replied. Rick’s counselor, John, repeated the sentence— slowly for emphasis to Rick’s incredulous ears. “You have got to not argue!” Clearly there was a disconnect here, thought Rick, a 32-year-old attorney. “Does this guy not know what I do for a living?” Rick and his wife had been meeting with John for a while now, and it seemed like John was trying to address something fundamental in their marriage. Still, every neuron in Rick’s brain flamed at John’s words. In truth, this was not the first time John had given Rick counsel of this nature; hence his chagrin and the note of urgency in his voice. Rick and Stephanie had started counseling to seek help in coping with a number of family challenges: an unexpected job loss, their parents’ grave illnesses, the stresses of raising young children. But somewhere along the way, the topic had turned to the relational dynamics between them. They had begun delving into how they communicated, and why what perhaps should have been reasonable disagreements between two rational adults frequently devolved into shouting matches and even expressions of physical aggression. In the worst of times, if a door wasn’t slammed, then a glass was shattered or a picture frame was hurled across the room. They had both been raised as “good kids,” and by all outward appearances they were the picture of calm, cool, and collected. But behind closed doors they were capable of a level of causticity and derision that left them both embittered and ashamed. Finally, they had begun to want to know how they got to such desperate places together and how to avoid them if at all possible. “Okay, so how do I do that?” Rick finally asked. As he understood it, the way to get what you want—be it from a judge, a client, or a witness—was with words. State your case in three bullet points, right? He remembered the old “IRAC” method: identify the issue, cite the governing rule, apply it to the present fact pattern, and draw the appropriate conclusion. It’s basic first-year legal writing. And if your opponent has a counterargument, well, there are plenty of ways to deal with that: Find the fallacy in their reasoning—maybe a hidden premise or an unwarranted logical leap. Or maybe the other person is not “comparing apples to apples,” i.e., the case law she is citing is not “on all fours” with the current scenario. Yet John was telling Rick that continuing to argue with his wife would actually be the death of his marriage. “Hmm,” said Rick, “I thought being a good communicator was a good thing. After all, don’t most misunderstandings come from a lack of clarity? And how will I ever get her to listen to me? I don’t know about all this…” Does Rick’s story strike a chord with you? Has your spouse ever accused you of being too
argumentative? Of being defensive? Or not listening to what she is saying? Would your husband say that you overwhelm him with an endless barrage of words and emotions that is often too much for him to handle? Relational conflict is, of course, not exclusive to attorneys. But it may be that we lawyers have a special challenge in using the correct parts of our brain to help navigate matters of the heart. Most of us were wired for analytical thinking and argument well before law school; indeed, admission to law school is a good indicator that one has well-honed skills of communication. And legal training is designed to enhance those skills even further. As 1Ls, we are instructed to “think like lawyers.” Hours are spent pouring over the opinions of Justices Marshall, Hand, Brandeis, and Holmes—the cream of the crop of analytical reasoning. Daily, one does battle with sharp minds on the faculty and among fellow students. And in practice, whether in the office or the courtroom, argument is our very stock-in-trade. But matters of the heart seem to work a bit differently. The same communications skills and techniques that work so well in law practice frequently seem to complicate our interpersonal relationships. When two people are each clamoring to be heard, employing whatever rhetorical devices and verbal maneuvers come to mind in an effort to win the point, oftentimes neither ends up listening to the other, and thus neither ends up feeling heard or cared for. Even once one partner or the other finally
surrenders, or the battle subsides due to mutual exhaustion, there has already been considerable damage done to trust and safety in the relationship. Now one might think at this point, “OK, simple enough. Argue at your office or in the courtroom, but not with your wife. Point taken, lesson learned, move on.” But often it is a bit more complicated than that. For one thing, sometimes we have shifted to “argument mode” in communicating with our partner before we even know it. For another, the underlying defensive nature that defaults so quickly to “argument mode” runs very deep in our psyches. In future installments, this column will look at ways that our interpersonal relationships (romantic and otherwise) can be improved as we learn to pay attention to our methods of communication and adopt different principles that can help build up and encourage others, rather than staying mired in a linguistic battle for advantage. For a beginning this month, in honor of Valentine’s Day, try to take note of when, if ever, your conversations with your significant other begin feeling more like a motions argument than a heartto-heart dialogue. And, if you are really brave (and willing to take the answer seriously), ask your spouse or partner for feedback on how you communicate with them in a disagreement. You might be surprised at how much relational capital is gained just by you asking the question.
Time Management Aid for Legal Staff Due to come out shortly, the 2008–09 MCB Annual Membership Directory can save you and your legal staff valuable research time: The Mecklenburg County Bar Membership Directory is a must-have resource for all legal support staff! No other legal publication provides a more user-friendly and valuable reference tool than our MCB Directory. It is so much more than an attorney phone directory—it provides instant access to contact numbers, addresses, and e-mails for County, State, and Federal Agencies as well as a detailed floor-by-floor map of our County Courthouse. The MCB Directory enables me, as a legal support staff, to provide quick, accurate, and detailed information to my attorneys and is a great time-saving resource tool in my work day. —Carla Brafford, CLA, NCCP Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC Help your staff keep efficient by ordering this essential resource for your paralegals and support staff today! Please go to www.meckbar.org and click on the “Local Legal Essential” link under Announcements to order.
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Community Outreach Helps Fund Partner Schools
Community Outreach Committee Co-Chair Jon Adams (left) along with Young Lawyers Section Chair Anne Randall (right) presented a $500 check from Alston & Bird LLP to Community Charter School Principal Kristi Dahlstrom (middle). Alston & Bird provided the funds for much-needed books. Thanks to Ms. Randall and her colleagues!
Teachers at Devonshire Elementary School were treated to a breakfast of bagels and biscuits on December 17th. The Community Outreach Committee is thankful to Hamilton Moon Stephens Steele & Martin, PLLC, Maria Blue Minsker, and the Queens College Paralegal Program who sponsored the appreciation breakfast.
Lawyers Exchange Seasons’ Greetings at Bar Party BY JOHN
C. NIPP, CO-CHAIR, SOCIAL SPORTS COMMITTEE
Approximately 140 attorneys and their guests turned out for the 2008 Mecklenburg County Bar Holiday Party on December 10 at Byron’s South End. Bar President John Lassiter kicked off the evening by extending well wishes to all members of the Bar. The Bar extends its appreciation to the following sponsors for making this annual tradition possible: at the Donor level, IVIZE, a litigation
support services company (www.ivize.net); at the Contributor level, Brock & Scott, PLLC, Charlotte School of Law, McGuireWoods, LLP, and Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC; and at the Supporter level, Vaudra, Ltd., a private investigation firm (www.vaudra.com). Arthur’s Wine Shop and Dick’s Sporting Goods graciously provided door prizes. Exact Document Solutions provided the signage for the event. [Left] Sally Bowman (standing), Andrew Bowman (far left), Courtney Hamer (middle left), Morgan Martyn (middle right), and Carrie Mansfield (far right) enjoy the festivities at the 2008 Holiday Party
[Right] Murph Archibald (right) impressed his guest Deb Thompson (left) and other attendees with his seasonable attire
Great Boat Needs New Home Chapel Hill lawyer looking toward retirement in the desert Southwest selling boat with both speed and creature comforts, including Bimini top, custom leather, air conditioning: 38’ Fountain SC, twin 750 Mercruiser efi’s. Custom Myko trailer included. See specs and service details, detailed photos at agent’s website: www.yachtworld.com/bluewaterbrokers/. Click on “Boats for Sale” and scroll to “38’ Fountain SC” to view 40 photos and call Michael direct at 910/200-7188 or toll-free 866/649-6841 and make an offer!
M a j o r, Lindsey & Africa
Attorney Search Consultants
Upcoming Bar Gatherings
Class A Office Space for Lease
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Diversity Day Conference Location Moved
Morehead Corporate Plaza, 1043 East Morehead Street, Suite 112. 1,025RSF. Convenient to Courthouse. Three offices, reception area, copy/file room & storage room. On-site parking, full-service lease, available now. For information contact Chris E. Moffat, Morehead Properties, Inc., at 704/342-1352 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The annual Increasing Diversity in the Legal Profession Conference to engage minority high school and college students in a discussion about the legal profession and law-related careers will now be held at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 3200 Park Road (at Marsh Road) on Saturday, February 21, 2009, from 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Students will hear about the role individuals with legal training play in everyday society; meet with attorneys, judges, law school admissions officers, and law students; and have an opportunity to share their views of the law and lawyers. Lunch will be provided to all registered attendees. If you are interested in showing your support or know of a student who might be interested in participating in this free event, please contact Stephanie Marella at email@example.com or 704/375-8624, ext.127.
Late February/Early March 2009
MCB Basketball Season The Mecklenburg County Bar Basketball League will begin its 2009 season in late February/early March 2009. Games will be played at the Harris YMCA. If you’re interested in participating, please contact Matt Arnold at firstname.lastname@example.org or Nick Allmon at email@example.com as soon as possible!
Thursday, March 12, 2009
MCB Luncheon Series Please help the Mecklenburg County Bar Luncheon Series Committee in welcoming Dr. Peter Gorman at the March Luncheon Series. Keep an eye on our website and your weekly Bar Blast for our upcoming speakers. See you at our next luncheon on March 12! To register, please use the form below or go to www.meckbar.org.
Schedule for 2009 Date March 12, 2009 April 9, 2009 June 11, 2009
Speaker CMS Superintendent Peter Gorman TBA TBA
Registration Deadline March 6, 2009 April 3, 2009 June 5, 2009
For more information, please contact Leah Reed (firstname.lastname@example.org or 704/375-8624, ext. 114).
MCB Luncheon Series Registration Form (Cost is $10 per person) Name___________________________________________________________________________________ Firm name_______________________________________________________________________________ E-mail __________________________________________________________________________________ Phone _____________________________________Fax__________________________________________
I’m enclosing a check payable to Mecklenburg County Bar
For the 3/12/08 luncheon, please mail your registration form and check before 3/6/09 to MCB Luncheon Series, 438 Queens Road, Charlotte, North Carolina 28207
me through this method. I am amazed by how many people are on Facebook, especially how many attorneys have a presence there. People are addicted to it.” The Mecklenburg County Bar has used Facebook’s privacy settings to ensure that only attorneys and law students can gain access to its Facebook page. The Facebook page for the Bar’s Young Lawyers Section recently had 57 members. The page includes news about upcoming Bar programs and photographs from recent Bar events. Only the Bar itself is authorized to post materials on the site. The Young Lawyers Section is currently the only MCB section with a Facebook page, but the effort may expand to other sections in the coming months. The North Carolina Bar Association also has established an outpost on Facebook, with a recent tally of 139 members.
Rules of Engagement Erik Mazzone, Director of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Center of Practice Management, advises North Carolina law firms on marketing efforts, including the use of social networking sites such as Facebook. Mazzone offers the following advice for firms interested in pursuing a Facebook presence: • First, determine if establishing a presence on Facebook (or any other social networking site) is consistent with the firm’s overall brand, image, and marketing message. •
Second, use social networking to build an authentic community of people interested in your firm by posting relevant articles and other useful information. Treating it just as an advertising channel typically yields disappointing results.
Third, authenticity and transparency are the currency for business development on the internet. Be real and be honest.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
2009 McMillan Fund Dinner Please support our McMillan Fellows working at government and nonprofit agencies this coming summer and celebrate the Bar’s newest Julius L. Chambers Diversity Champion Award recipient at the McMillan Fund Dinner on April 14, 2009, at 6:00 p.m. at Byron’s South End, 101 W. Worthington Ave. The cost is $125/person ($65 of which is tax-deductible) or $300 for a two-person sponsorship ($180 of which is taxdeductible). This year’s keynote speaker is University of North Carolina School of Law Dean Jack Boger. To register, please go to www.meckbar.org for an invitation/registration form (please remember to indicate your meal choice[s]). The registration deadline is April 7. Please contact Leah at email@example.com or 704/375-8624, ext. 114, if you would like more information about this event.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Save the Date for Spring 2009 Swearing In When: Where: Attire: Questions:
April 30, 2:45 p.m. for new attorney registration; 4:00 p.m. for the ceremony; reception following. The Marriott City Center, 100 W. Trade St. Business formal. Please contact Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704/375-8624, ext. 124.
continued from cover
For individual lawyers who maintain their own Facebook page, Mazzone offers a final piece of advice: “It’s OK to post pictures, and it’s OK to do embarrassing things. But it’s not OK to post pictures of yourself doing embarrassing things. Things that seemed funny in law school may cost you a job opportunity in law practice.” Failure to adhere to this final piece of advice has led to numerous professional ramifications across the country, including the recent dismissal of several Charlotte-Mecklenburg school teachers who posted inappropriate content on their Facebook pages. “Don’t post pictures of yourself doing keg stands,” Mazzone said. “Basically, if it would make your mom cringe, don’t post it.”
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CLE Courses ...................................................................2
MCB Board Nominating Committee Notice...............1
MCB History Book Project............................................1
From the President .........................................................1
UR BFF ....................................................................cover
Holiday Party Recap.......................................................6
Community Outreach Committee Update ..................6
Lawyers in Love..............................................................5
Leary Bar Update............................................................4
New VLP Coordinator; More Volunteers Needed.......4
McMillan Fellowship Applications...............................3
In This Issue
Award Nominations Sought ..........................................3
Upcoming Bar Events ....................................................7
PERMIT NO. 3337
Upcoming YLS Activities..............................................3
MECKLENBURG COUNTY BAR
438 Queens Road Charlotte, NC 28207
Volume 35 No. 8
page that appears to be geared primarily to support its recruiting program. The firm’s Facebook page recently had 73 “fans.” Posts include press releases highlighting various firm successes, a recruiting video, pictures of a trip to the U.S. National Whitewater Center, and information about firm visits to various law schools. The Charlotte-based Shankle Law Firm created its Facebook page in February after a paralegal persuaded attorney Maggie Shankle to give it a try. Shankle believed that having a Facebook page would improve her firm’s footprint on the internet generally and would lead to more prospective clients reaching her via various internet search engines such as Google. “From a business perspective, it’s just a little more exposure on the web,” said Shankle, whose firm also maintains a page on MySpace, another popular social networking site. “Several clients have found me on Facebook and added the firm as a friend. Also, various other business professionals have located continued on page 7
The MCB YLS page on Facebook.com
UR BFF—Your Better Firm Footprint on the Web BY JON
The social networking website Facebook has more than 150 million active users worldwide—including an increasing number of bar associations and law firms eager to tap in to Facebook’s ever-expanding membership base. The Mecklenburg County Bar (MCB), for one, established a Facebook page for its Young Lawyers Section in November in an effort to better reach its younger members. “If you don’t provide that type of communication,” said Nancy Roberson, MCB executive director, “you quickly become a dinosaur.” Facebook was founded by Harvard students in 2004 as a means for students there to interactively communicate online with one another. The website quickly spread to other colleges, universities, and high schools, and in 2006 was opened to anyone with a valid e-mail account. MySpace, Twitter, and LinkedIn are other popular social networking sites. Facebook allows individual users to post information, photos, videos, and updates on their lives, among other things, for free. Users who are acquainted with one another can “friend” one another on Facebook, allowing them to exchange messages and share personal information. Companies and organizations can also create Facebook pages; customers, employees, and other users who are interested in them can become “fans” and gain access to information and updates provided by those organizations.
Social Media Marketing
Although young adults (age 18–24) still reportedly comprise about half of Facebook’s members, older professionals are increasingly logging on to Facebook. Thus the appeal to bar associations and law firms. One Charlotte law firm, for example, created a Facebook