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April 2009

Volume 35 No. 10

From the President Coping in the Recession By the time you read this article, there will be two less committees in your Bar but a powerhouse of potential to address the needs of our members. Over the last John Lassiter, few months, our Bar MCB President 2010, LawyerLife Resource, and Professionalism Committees have been in discussion about the possible impact of collective action, inability to effectively work in concert, and duplication of effort. Through a careful analysis of the needs of our members and the benefits each group uniquely brings to our Bar services, the committees have joined forces into a single committee with a clear focus on the continuum of care our members need in their personal and professional lives. The Professionalism, LawyerLife and Culture Committee has drafted its purpose statement to “enhance and support the Mecklenburg County legal community through the active development and promotion of educational programs, resources, and mentoring relationships to facilitate healthy, collaborative, rewarding, and service-oriented professional lives and culture among its members.” These are lofty goals but could not be more timely in the lives of the attorneys in our community. Unlike most economic downturns in the past that tended to impact isolated practice areas, this recession has brought a deeper and more serious shock to the greater Bar. Law firms have made large-scale layoffs, some national firms with significant exposure to financial services have closed branch offices, and a wave of graduating law students are finding offers rescinded and employment opportunities increasingly scarce. The stress on the profession, law firms, and individual lawyers, if left unchecked, can have lasting impacts. The PLLC committee (and no, we are not that clever) will coordinate the full continuum of service to our members ranging from referral services for members dealing with depression and substance abuse to the efforts we make to ensure our services to the community continue to meet the highest professional standard, while keeping a keen eye on the culture and content of the practice in our law offices, courtrooms, and community service. Importantly, the new committee has already started work on an initiative designed to help our members deal with the economic conditions. Suggested by Woody Connette, this proposal under discussion would be a multifaceted effort to equip lawyers to weather the storms of recession. They are considering a nuts-and-bolts continuing legal education program, a strategic response plan, and immediate steps we can take to help attorneys find gainful employment and continued on page 3

April 2009

Patrons Fund 2009:

Growing Needs Demand a Growing Base of Support BY RICHARD THIGPEN, PATRONS FUND CHAIR, MECKLENBURG BAR FOUNDATION Why give to the Patrons Fund Campaign and support the Mecklenburg Bar Foundation (MBF)? In light of the growing funding needs of so many of our community’s vital programs and the desire of our attorneys to address those needs head on, we are now committed to raising a record $125,000 for the Patrons Fund. Like everything else, the right to justice, legal development and education, as well as public awareness of jurisprudence are threatened by a declining economy. A gift to the Patrons Fund is both a gift to yourself and to those who share your professional and philanthropic goal to maintain a safety net of resources pertaining to justice, the legal profession, Mecklenburg County Bar (MCB) members, and our successors. Our hope is that individual members and their respective firms will take pride in supporting our community as part of a growing legal cooperation. As members of the MCB and supporters of the Patrons Fund, we have an opportunity to impact funding needs that we as legal professionals care most about. Thanks to your past support, the Foundation approved nine grant proposals and allocated a total of $82,500 in 2008, and it has already allocated 2009 grants to the International House, Council for Children’s Rights, and the Bar Leadership Institute. These grants have had a tremendous impact in Mecklenburg County, supporting programs that might not have been funded otherwise. Despite this success, our community’s needs are growing and continued positive impact depends on the continued success of the Patrons Fund. Over the last few weeks, the MBF Planning and Development Committee has been engaged in the early phase of the 2009 Campaign. We have contacted several past supporters and requested not only their own continued financial support, but also their assistance in growing general participation and identifying potential step-up contributors. As noted

in the March issue of the Mecklenburg Bar News, only 255 of our 4,000+ members contributed to the Fund last year. Furthermore, the Bar is still seeking its firstever Leadership Circle contributor (minimum contribution of $5,000). Historically, the Bar has concentrated its efforts on pursuing individual donors and recognizing them through various giving levels. We will continue this practice but also engage a new strategy directed at firms as a whole. We intend to encourage and recognize our firms for their efforts to increase participation, average giving, overall giving, and other relevant indicators of successful fundraising. This new strategy may even ignite some healthy competition among firms. Also new this year is the addition of Stephen Belenky, Director of Communications and Development for the Bar and Foundation. Stephen will have the opportunity to focus strategically on the development of the Bar and Foundation, including the growth of the Patrons Fund. He has a long history with nonprofits, most recently with United Way of Central Carolinas. We are grateful for his presence and will use his expertise to provide each of you with a better understanding of the Foundation and the ways in which you can help to make a difference. When the call, the e-mail, the note, or the knock on the door arrives, please respond willingly and generously. We recognize that the needs of our community are vast and it is the tradition of our members to support a great number of charitable causes. Nonetheless, we hope that this year you will make the Patrons Fund a priority. If you have any questions regarding the Patrons Fund or wish to make a pledge to the Campaign at this time, please feel free to contact me (704/358-7849, rthigpen@panthers.nfl.com), Executive Director Nancy Roberson (704/375-8624, ext. 111, nroberson@meckbar.org), or Stephen Belenky (704/375-8624, ext. 100, sbelenky@meckbar.org). Thank you, in advance, for your support.

Notice of Annual Meeting and Board Nominations Please mark your calendar for MCB’s upcoming Annual Meeting, scheduled for Thursday, May 21 at noon at First Presbyterian Church in uptown Charlotte. Watch for more information as we get closer to May. The 2009-2010 nominating committee met (pursuant to Article V. Section 3 of the Mecklenburg County Bar, 26th Judicial District bylaws) on March 24 to consider a slate of nominees for the four officers and six members of the board of directors, and one seat vacated in the class of 2010 (one year left in term). The following people have been nominated and will be presented for election at the Annual Meeting. Additional nominations may be made from the floor at that time.

www.meckbar.org

President Elect: A. Todd Brown Vice President: Robert C. Dortch Secretary:

Karen Eady-Williams

Treasurer:

Maria Blue Minsker

Board of Directors: Three-year term: Hon. Albert Diaz Jill E. Dinerman Trevor M. Fuller Jonathan C. Krisko John C. Nipp Claire K. Shapack One-year term: Nina Shor

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Consider the MCB CLE Advantage

In-House Video Replays

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 long-distance 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. Past CLE materials may be purchased through MCB: One hour: $15-25 Three hours: $25-35 Six or more hours: $50-75 Visit our website’s CLE page or contact us at 704/375-8624.

You can bring CLE video replays to your firm by contacting Lisa Armanini (larmanini@meckbar.org) or CLE Assistant Sally Kenney (skenney@meckbar.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.

Live Programs Hard Times: How to Survive & Thrive in the Economic Recession CLE Credit: 2.0 General, 1.0 Ethics, and 1.0 Mental Health/Substance Abuse Date: Friday, April 17 Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Program 9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $150 attorney rate; $75 paralegal rate Women Lawyers 2009: Retention, Advancement, Equity & Satisfaction CLE Credit: 3.0 Ethics/Professionalism Date: Wednesday, April 22 Time: Registration 1:30 p.m. Program 2:00–5:00 p.m. Reception 5:00–6:30 p.m. Location: TBA Fees: $175 attorney rate; $95 paralegal rate Security of Law Firm & Client Information CLE Credit: 2.0 Ethics and 1.0 General Date: Friday, April 24 Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Program 9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $160 attorney rate; $75 paralegal rate Practice Before the Clerk CLE Credit: 3.0 General Date: Friday, April 24 Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Program 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Location: TCA Training Room Fees: $160 attorney rate; $75 paralegal rate

Online Programs Visit the CLE Program at www.meckbar.org for on-demand, convenient courses. NC State Bar allows up to four 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.

Presentation Skills for Attorneys CLE Credit: 2.0 General and 1.0 Ethics Date: Tuesday, May 5 Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Program 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Location: Interact Studio, 1435 West Morehead Street Fee: $195 attorney rate Bankruptcy Seminar 2009 CLE Credit: 5.25 General and 1.0 Ethics Date: Friday, May 8 Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Program 9:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Location: Crowne Plaza Hotel Fees: $240 attorney rate; $130 paralegal rate UCC Articles 3 and 4 Update CLE Credit: 3.0 General Date: Friday, May 15 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

Video Replays Ethical Fallout of the State Bar v. Nifong CLE Credit: 2.5 Ethics Dates: Thursday, April 16 Time: Registration 15 minutes prior to program Program 9:00–11:30 a.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $135 attorney rate; $60 paralegal rate Firm Conflicts CLE Credit: 1.0 Ethics Dates: Wednesday, April 22 Time: Registration 5 minutes prior to Program Program 9:00–10:00 a.m. and 2:00–3:00 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 Dates: Wednesday, April 22 Time: Registration 5 minutes prior to program Program 10:00–11:00 a.m. and 3:00–4:00 p.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $75 attorney rate; $35 paralegal rate Top Ten Litigation Pitfalls CLE Credit: 1.0 Ethics Dates: Wednesday, April 22 Time: Registration 5 minutes prior to program Program 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $75 attorney rate; $35 paralegal rate Lawyer Anxiety and Personality Disorders CLE Credit: 1.0 Mental Health/Substance Abuse Dates: Wednesday, April 22 Time: Registration 5 minutes prior to program Program 1:00– 2:00 p.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $75 attorney rate; $35 paralegal rate Residential and Commercial LandlordTenant Law–Practical & Ethical Concerns CLE Credit: 3.0 General and 1.0 Ethics Dates: Tuesday, April 28 Time: Registration 15 minutes prior to program Program 9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $175 attorney rate; $110 pro bono attorney rate; $90 paralegal rate

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April 2009


CLE in Your Own Backyard The MCB continually strives to enhance the lives of its members. To that end, we offer hundreds of continuing legal education (CLE) programs on a broad range of topics. It is MCB’s goal that you think of us first when you’re considering your CLE courses. We offer a multitude of courses that are competitively priced – and often lower – than many other CLE providers. Acquiring CLE credit in Mecklenburg County helps members watch the bottom line by saving travel time and expenses. In addition, taking courses at the MCB provides valuable networking opportunities with your fellow attorneys. Should your calendar not allow you to attend a course on-site, we offer the majority of courses as video replays, which you may watch on a large screen at the MCB office, one of the several law firms that offers replays to its own and other attorneys, or another place of your choosing. The North Carolina State Bar requires that three people participate in the video replay in order to receive accreditation, so as long as the three-person minimum is met, the video may be watched anywhere and anytime. Another convenient way to acquire your CLE credits if you cannot attend a live class is to participate in an online course. Up to four hours of CLE credit may be taken online. View current course offerings by visiting www.meckbar.org and clicking the “Online Courses” link on CLE’s main page. (Video replays do not count toward attorneys’ four-hour online course allotment.) When you attend these courses, you are contributing to MCB’s highest source of non-dues income, which in turn helps us provide you with more of what you want to see in your Bar. For more information on CLE courses or to schedule a video replay, please contact Lisa Armanini (larmanini@meckbar.org) or Sally Kenney (skenney@meckbar.org).

President’s Letter

Most of us have felt the effects of today’s changing economy to some degree. Many members have inquired about MCB resources for dealing with the current economic climate. We want to respond to your concerns and have put some new initiatives in place to facilitate some common workplace scenarios and transitions. Some resources are online and can be accessed at your convenience while others are scheduled networking and skill-building sessions. Whatever your needs, we hope you find what you’re looking for. As always, we invite your feedback on current and potential topics.

Online Resources We’re pleased to offer Career Corner, our new online tool providing resources to help you manage your career, whether you’re exactly where you want to be or are exploring different options, particularly in light of today’s economy. Check out the Career Corner resources at www.meckbar.org/careercorner. We think you will find pertinent information no matter where you are in your career. We will continually update the information and links in this section and invite you to let us know any appropriate resources you would like to see. Bar members who are looking for a job may post (free of charge) specific information related to their skills, specialties and interests.

Coffee Connections We invite you to a Coffee Connections devoted to managing your career in today’s economy on May 5 from 4:00-6:30 p.m. at the MCB office. Gather with colleagues to learn about and share ideas on four topics that are

extremely relevant to our current economic situation: • How to write a winning resume •

Guidance on opening a small or solo firm

Today’s legal landscape

Resources for women in law

The event’s format is informal, with each topic taking place in a designated corner of the CLE room. In addition, we hope you take advantage of the opportunity to connect with your colleagues. We invite you to attend this Coffee Connections even if the topics don’t pertain to you. We welcome your ideas on this and any future Coffee Connections topics and would love to see and hear from you on May 5.

April CLEs Offer Additional Information on Managing your Career: April 17 Hard Times: How to Survive & Thrive in the Economic Recession How to survive an economic recession, including coping with job loss. April 22 Women Lawyers 2009: Retention, Advancement, Equity & Satisfaction This joint program by the MCB and the Women’s Bar will focus on issues facing women in the legal profession and work/life balance issues. April 30 Opening Your Own Law Firm This brief overview is a must for attorneys who are considering opening their own law firms.

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learn how to individually and collectively find a path back to stability. You will see new links on our website, eblasts with timely ideas and suggestions, and articles in our Mecklenburg Bar News that can help our members–new and experienced, solo practitioners to AmLaw 200 partners. We are living in trying times and our Bar will do its part to help our members, but your help will also be needed. If you have ideas or suggestions or just want to offer some time to work on this issue, give Maya Madura Engle at the Bar Center a call or email (704/375-8624, ext. 126, mengle@meckbar.org) with your willingness to add your name to these efforts.

EDITORIAL POLICY 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, Blake Marler, Nancy Roberson, Michael Shor, Russ Traw

April 2009

MCB’s Resources for Navigating Today’s Economy

Kudos to Charlotte for Securing ABA National Law-Related Event For the first time, the American Bar Association has selected Charlotte to host one of its national conferences. The program – Justice is the Business of Government: The Critical Role of Fair and Impartial State Courts – will focus on strengthening our state courts. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will serve as the keynote speaker. North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Mark Martin is the event’s co-chair; North Carolina Chief Justice Sarah Parker and South Carolina Chief

Justice Jean Hoefer Toal are program speakers. Chief Justices from all 50 states have been invited to the program. Over 35 states have already indicated that they will send delegations. Though the program is not open to the public, given the illustrious list of speakers and confirmed and potential participants, it marks a rare and exciting opportunity to showcase the legal profession in our growing city.

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How to Stop Litigating Ourselves Out of Good Relationships Part 3 BY CHRIS OSBORN, CHAIR, LAWYERLIFE RESOURCE COMMITTEE

“So then she goes, ‘You were late for dinner every night last week! You never care about me and the kids–you just care about your stupid job!’ ” Rick paused as the memory of his wife’s words flushed his face with hot fury. “I mean, can you believe that? That is such crap!” “What do you mean?” asked John. “I wasn’t late every night last week, for cryin’ out loud. It was only Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. And Thursday wasn’t even my fault. I knew I had to get home for our daughter’s school concert, but I got stuck in a motions hearing waiting behind a two-hour discovery dispute that that blowhard Nicholson said would take 10 minutes. Then he goes on and on, and the judge just sits there and lets them go back and forth ad nauseam over every ridiculous document and why wasn’t it produced. So we didn’t even start my hearing until 4:30. I mean why can’t she even give me a break, there?” “What happened on the other days?” the counselor gently probed. “Well, I guess time got away from me then, but I am keeping up with so much crap and so many deadlines. I am trying to get better about it, and Stephanie knows that, ‘cause we’ve talked about it and beaten the subject to death. I get it, already, and I am doing the freakin’ best I can.” “So she was upset about you being inconsiderate by being late, and you thought that was unfair?” “Darn right it was unfair! I mean I work all day, and I can’t control every stinkin’ thing that happens. And she’s saying I don’t even care about the kids and that is b.s. She’s totally forgetting that I left on Friday at 3:00 and was home right on time for Carly’s birthday party. I mean that is two hours early, in that same week, but that doesn’t count for anything? Come on!” I don’t know about you, but just reading that vignette gets me a little worked up. Doesn’t Rick seem to have a pretty good point or two? If we look at this conversation with our “lawyer hats” on, who

2009–10 MCB Budgeting Process The Mecklenburg County Bar Finance & Operations Committee is in the process of drafting a budget for the 2009–10 fiscal year. The Committee welcomes any input or comments from Bar members. Copies of the draft budget will be available at the Annual Meeting on May 21, 2009. Any member who wishes to see a copy of the draft budget may do so by contacting Sally Robinson at 704/3758624, ext. 109. The Finance & Operations Committee will meet in open session at the Bar Center, 438 Queens Road, on June 3, 2009, at 12:00 p.m. to receive public input. We encourage members to tender budget suggestions to Sally Robinson and/or to attend this meeting.

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couldn’t mount an excellent defense for Rick on the charges of being an inconsiderate husband? His wife is exaggerating, and thus not very credible. She is only telling part of the story, failing to acknowledge evidence that he does care: he left early for the party. And the mitigating circumstances are obvious: The guy is trying his best and is under a lot of pressure in a demanding profession. A reasonable jury could easily acquit him. At the risk of stating the obvious, however, his wife is not a judge and the conversation Rick is describing isn’t the subject of a trial. It’s a scene from a marriage and, perhaps, a common one. Indeed who among us has not used our natural analytical ability and considerable legal training to press our case similarly with a spouse or partner? We can’t stand suffering relational pain, or having to change habits or alter our plans, unless the evidence they present clearly warrants it. By a combination of natural bent and training, we lawyers are committed to giving everyone a fair trial and making sure that only admissible evidence is considered when our clients’ money or freedom is at stake. These are among the noblest values of our profession and the most important features of our justice system. It is not surprising then that when we ourselves feel like we are on the hot seat, our commitment to procedural fairness might leap to mind. (One might question whether we apply these principles with equal fervor when the tables are turned, of course, but that is a topic for another column!) The point is that we are both wired and trained to spot any and all defects in procedure, logical fallacies, and counterarguments regarding the same factual scenario. And when one is both the accused and the advocate, well, we all know the old saying about that–and it applies equally here. A challenging but helpful distinction to remember in these situations is that the legal system and interpersonal relationships function differently because they have different ultimate goals. The

ultimate aim of the justice system is, obviously, justice; hence the understandable focus on fairness and due process. But we err grievously if we make justice–i.e., determining “who is right or wrong” on the issue–the aim of a relational conflict. Matters of the heart are typically more complex–rarely very susceptible of a right/wrong determination. And more importantly, isn’t the primary goal of a relationship to experience intimacy–i.e., for each person to love and be loved by the other? Here, the point of Stephanie’s complaint is that Rick has let her down repeatedly and she feels unloved. She may not be articulating it clearly, or even fairly, but few of us communicate with great precision when upset. And she may have a legitimate concern, as Rick acknowledges. If Rick’s main goal is to “get off the hook” or to “stay out of the doghouse,” that will affect the way that he communicates in these kinds of discussions. He’ll continue to marshal arguments and pick apart her words, and it is unlikely that the end result will be a more harmonious relationship or a workable plan for change. But if Rick learns to notice what is happening and changes his goal, it could make a huge difference. If his goal becomes how to “love, honor, and cherish” his wife (as he likely once vowed to do), letting the issues of accuracy and fairness fall to the background (perhaps saving them for another time), then he increases the likelihood that they can come to some kind of mutual understanding about her expectations and his willingness and ability to meet them. We’ll consider goals and desires more deeply next month. For now, the next time that you feel “put on trial” by your significant other, notice any ways that you are attacking the evidence or discrediting the witness, rather than listening for the gravamen of the complaint. Instead of defending yourself, think about changing your immediate goal, and thus the way you listen and respond–and see what happens.

YLS Needs Your Help BY ANNE RANDALL, CHAIR, YOUNG LAWYERS SECTION

To Nominate the 2008–09 Young Lawyer of the Year The Young Lawyers Section (YLS) of the Mecklenburg County Bar (MCB) is accepting nominations for its fifth annual MCB YLS Young Lawyer of the Year Award. The purpose of this award is to recognize the outstanding contributions young lawyers are making to the practice of law and the Mecklenburg County community as a whole. The award will be given to a young lawyer who has shown outstanding general overall contributions to (1) the MCB, (2) the practice of law, (3) the community, (4) the recipient’s clients, and/or (5) the recipient’s firm or organization. The MCB YLS Young Lawyer of the Year Award Committee places a special emphasis on professional contributions that further the purposes and objectives of the MCB and the YLS. The mission of the Bar is to serve the public and Bar members by improving and preserving the administration of justice as well as

www.meckbar.org

to assist the North Carolina State Bar. Similarly, the YLS’s goals include promoting professional and social activities that will be of assistance to young lawyers in the practice of law, conducting law-related programs that benefit the general public, and encouraging the participation of young lawyers in the Mecklenburg County Bar. To be eligible, the nominee must practice law in Mecklenburg County, meet the definition of a “young lawyer” as defined by the MCB YLS, and be a member of the MCB YLS. Nomination forms are available at www.meckbar.org or by request. Nominations are due by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 22, 2009. Nominations may be submitted to Danny Merlin by e-mail at dmerlin@jahlaw.com or fax at 704/376-1628. For more information, call Anne Randall at 704/4441419 or Danny Merlin at 704/998-2249.

Spring Clothing Drive Please remember the MCB YLS Community Service Committee will be sponsoring a spring clothing drive benefitting Crisis Assistance Ministry. Be on the look out for an eblast on this and do some spring cleaning in your closets for a good cause.

April 2009


Annual Conference Exposes Minority Students to the Legal Profession (Right) Diversity Outreach Subcommittee Chair Marion Cowell (2nd from right) greeted students from St. Augustine College and North Carolina State University who came by bus from Raleigh for the conference. (Below) Rob Harrington was the “Diversity Day” keynote speaker.

This February close to 40 high school and college undergraduate students attended the Special Committee on Diversity’s annual conference titled Increasing Diversity in the Legal Profession. Now in its fourth year, the conference helps to introduce minority students to the legal profession and connect them with influential Mecklenburg County attorneys. The February 21st event, held at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, provided students the opportunity to hear about roles individuals with legal training play in everyday society through three panel discussions: Getting to Law School, Getting through Law School, and To Be or Not To Be a Lawyer.

Attendees were also able to meet with lawyers, judges, and law students one-on-one to discuss their personal experiences and ask questions. Representatives from six North and South Carolina law schools provided admissions materials and information to the students throughout the program’s resource expo. Keynote speaker for the event Rob Harrington, shareholder at Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, spoke to the value of obtaining a quality education and enhancing such an education through persistent hard work. Harrington encouraged the youthful audience to solicit a mentor to better assist them in taking advantage of the opportunities the legal profession has to offer. Harrington concluded by noting the importance of exploring all educational opportunities and urging the students to visit with each attending law school at the conference that day. Both the John S. Leary Bar Association and the Mecklenburg County Hispanic Latino Lawyers Bar

participated in the 2009 program as well. Leadership from the organizations showcased resources available to minority attorneys in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region, answered questions, and discussed opportunities with students. The conference was established in 2006 under the leadership of Marion Cowell, current Chair of the Diversity Outreach Subcommittee, in an effort to expand the Special Committee on Diversity’s diversity pipeline. The pipeline provides programming opportunities to community constituencies of varying demographics. From eighthgrade students to practicing attorneys, the pipeline seeks to recruit and retain minority attorneys to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg legal community. The Committee hopes that through intervening at a young age, it can better introduce students to the legal profession so that it may provide support to individuals in every stage of their legal career.

A Moment in Mecklenburg County Bar History... Mechanics Perpetual Building and Loan Association directors, officers, and attorneys in 1940. Can you identify the attorneys in this photo? If so, please let Nancy Roberson know (nroberson@meckbar.org or 704/375-8624, ext. 111). If you have any historical materials about the Bar, please submit to Nancy Roberson.

Mecklenburg County Bar Proposed Bylaw Amendments The Mecklenburg County Bar Board of Directors is proposing an amendment to the bylaws of the Mecklenburg County Bar, 26th Judicial District. This bylaw amendment will be voted on at the Annual Meeting scheduled for Thursday, May 21, 2009. The proposed amendments can be found at www.meckbar.org/amendbylaws. Please contact Maya Madura Engle at mengle@meckbar.org to request a paper copy of the amendments.

April 2009

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Connecting You to New Clients The Lawyer Referral Service (LRS), in operation since 1955, is one of the most visible programs the MCB offers to the community; in fact, it is often the only contact that members of the public have with the Bar. By joining LRS, participating attorneys, called panel members, can reach out to the community and simultaneously increase their business. People in need of legal assistance who may not know any attorneys—or perhaps what kind of attorneys to contact given their particular situation—call LRS for a referral. Program staff in turn connects them with appropriate panel members on a rotating basis. Panel members meet with the clients for an initial consultation (up to 30 minutes). Any time and representation beyond that are arranged between each attorney and client. In 2008, panel members earned at least

$225,000 in commission and consultation fees and an average of 21 new clients directly from LRS referrals. Panel memberships, which cost $100 per fiscal year, often pay for themselves within the first month of membership. If you have thought about LRS membership, now is a great time to join and take advantage of prorated membership. Join during the last quarter of this fiscal year and pay $150 for the remainder of the year and all of the 2009-2010 fiscal year. Contact the LRS office at 704/375-8624 or visit www.meckbar.org/lawyerreferral if you wish to join or have specific program questions. Should potential clients contact your office with a need outside the scope of your services, please feel free to have them contact us at 704/375-0120.

Memorial Service Thursday, April 30, 2009 Memorial Service for

Robin Ledbetter Hinson Thursday, April 30, 2009 1:30 p.m. Courtroom 5370 Mecklenburg County Courthouse 832 East Fourth Street Russell M. Robinson Presenter Hon. Robert P. Johnston Presiding A. Ward McKeithen Henry N. Pharr II Memorial Committee Chairs Friends and colleagues are encouraged to attend and, if desired, say a few words in celebration of Mr. Hinson’s life.

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Bridging the Gap Between the Classroom and Workplace The Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) is continuing to collaborate with Central Piedmont Community College’s cooperative education program to expose students in the paralegal program to the legal community. Cynthia Young and Margrita Harrison are this semester’s interns in the LRS office. Each student is currently working ten hours per week screening calls, providing client followup and helping with other projects that arise. This collaboration has been a valuable way for students to gain exposure to the legal field while offering much-needed help to the MCB. “The hands-on experience I have received at LRS is very valuable. I have learned to identify customers’ legal issues and refer them to the appropriate attorneys who can assist them,” said Young. Sarah Darby, LRS assistant, gave accolades to the interns by saying, “Our goal is to return all calls by the end of each day. Cynthia and Margrita ensure that no matter the call volume, the clients’ questions are answered and referrals are made prior to that deadline.” Mecklenburg County has a wealth of organizations committed to making the legal environment more readily available to the public. The LRS often refers individuals to organizations such as Legal Services for the Southern Piedmont, Legal Aid of North Carolina and the courthouse’s SelfServe Center when legal representation is not readily accessible. Interns in the co-op program witness how such an incredible web of aid benefits the public and makes the legal system available to everyone, which will further assist them when beginning their careers. Mecklenburg County Bar board member Michael Hudson is with CPCC’s Professional Careers Division, of which the paralegal studies department is a part. Nina Neal, CPCC’s program chair for the paralegal program, has been involved with the co-op program and LRS in the past and is currently Harrison’s advisor. Neal asserts that the program helps turn theory into application–a goal stressed in the classroom. “The co-op experience for our students helps to bridge the gap between the classroom and the workplace. We encourage our students to display the knowledge and skills acquired from the program and to apply it to the real world,” said Neal. The benefits reaped by both the students and LRS make the partnership a natural union. With the continued relationship, LRS can maintain its significant service to the public while enhancing the education of future legal professionals.

(843) 785-3263

www.meckbar.org

April 2009


MCB Volunteer Spotlight: Karen Philippin BY JACKIE FOGARTIE, VOLUNTEER LAWYER PROGRAM COMMITTEE VOLUNTEER

Our April spotlight is on Karen Philippin. Karen is an associate in the finance and real estate group of Dechert LLP. She received her juris doctor in 2004 from New York University School of Law and her bachelor of science in 1998 from Georgetown University. Due to the slowdown in the real estate and finance world, Karen has been participating in a six-month pro bono secondment at the Council for Children’s Rights (CFCR). CFCR is a partner of the Mecklenburg County Bar (MCB) Volunteer Lawyer Program (VLP) that focuses on children receiving basic human rights such as education, proper health care and mental health treatment, as well as a qualified defense attorney when needed. Karen sheds some light on her work with the CFCR below. For more of Karen’s answers to our questions, please visit www.meckbar.org. MCB VLP: Tell us a little about your pro bono work. KP: I wanted to dedicate my pro bono time to helping children and, after some research about community organizations, I discovered the CFCR.

MCB VLP: How many of these type of pro bono cases/issues do you typically handle at one time? KP: I am currently volunteering full-time at the CFCR. Since my real estate and finance practice has slowed significantly over the past year, Dechert LLP has allowed me to participate in a six-month pro bono secondment at the Council (which ends with my return to Dechert in May). MCB VLP: Did you participate in any particular training so that you could handle these cases/issues? KP: Student Defense Training was on March 20th from 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. CAP volunteer training sessions are held semiannually with video training available on request for groups of 10 or more. MCB VLP: What is your hope for the future with regard to these cases/issues?

Karen Philippin

KP: Please contact Angela Yoo, Volunteer Coordinator at the Council at 704/372-7961.

KP: There are a lot of kids out there who need someone in their corner. Even when my pro bono secondment ends, I intend to remain actively involved with some of the programs at the Council.

For suggestions of future spotlight subjects or to find out more information about the opportunities within the MCB Volunteer Lawyer Program, please contact VLP Coordinator Mary Jordan Mullinax at mjmullinax@meckbar.org or 704/375-8624, ext. 115.

MCB VLP: How can the Mecklenburg County legal community help with similar cases/this issue?

MCB VLP: What is a typical case/issue like? KP: There is no typical case! I volunteer in three different programs at the CFCR: the Individual Best Interest Advocacy Program, the Student Defense Project, and the Custody Advocacy Program (CAP). The constant, however, in all cases, is that there is a child who needs an advocate–whether to help him or her get needed services, defend him or her against disciplinary action in school, or advocate for his or her best interest in a high-conflict custody dispute.

Charlotte ACC Chapter Elects 2009 Officers and Board The Charlotte Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), the world’s largest organization serving the professional and business interests of in-house counsel, is pleased to announce the election of officers and board members for 2009. Cindy Pitesa will serve a second term as President, Steve Millsap as Vice President/President-Elect, William Forgione as Secretary, and Tim Nohr as Treasurer. In addition, members of the board include Peter Barr (Past President), Michael Shor (Past President), Anna Blackwelder, Doug DeMoss, Joe Hayes, Luther Moore, and Ken Wittenauer. The chapter’s strategic partners for 2009 include Alston & Bird LLP; McGuireWoods, LLP; Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP; Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, P.A.; Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC; and Wishart Norris Henninger & Pittman, PA. Together with its partners, the chapter has a full schedule of meetings and “Lunch-n-Learn” sessions designed to bring timely and insightful information to its membership.

April 2009

(Above) On March 6, 2009, the NCBA in conjunction with the MCB enlisted local attorneys to answer the North Carolina public's legal questions. The Mecklenburg initiative took place at WBTV News Studios with volunteers recruited with the help of the MCB's Sections and Volunteer Lawyer Program. Here, David Bohm, Assistant Executive Director of the NCBA, takes a call while surrounded by other volunteers during the final shift of the day.

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Court CommuniquĂŠs BY CHARLES KELLER, JR., MA, COMMUNITY ACCESS AND OUTREACH ADMINISTRATOR

Court System Not Immune to Economic Woes The North Carolina Judicial Department is not immune to the downward spiral of our failed economy. The effects are being felt even on the local level. At the recent North Carolina Conference of Court Administrators spring conference, Judge John Smith, the new director of the Administrative Office of Courts (AOC), did not mince words when he outlined the current status of the economic state of the North Carolina judicial system. “It will get worse before it gets better,� Judge Smith indicated. “We must make sacrifices in order to keep our jobs.� At the conference, Judge Smith indicated that “the Office of State Budget and Management cut our monthly cash allotment for March to about 95% of payroll, leaving just under $2 million to operate the Judicial Department for the month. We can’t pay all of our monthly bills based upon this shortage of cash. We expect this through the end of this fiscal year, and we have been told our allotment may be reduced further.� In a measure to balance the operating budget, contracts for new technology initiatives that would have made for a more efficient and convenient court system have been suspended for the time being. In addition to technology, most conferences have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. Judge Smith indicated that cost-effective training opportunities will be sought for those groups who are required by statute to attend training and that any training may have to take place at the North Carolina Judicial Center in Raleigh. A hiring freeze is also in place, and newly created positions that have not been filled have been targeted for elimination. Prior to the budget crisis, allocations were in place to fill six new district court judge positions across the state. Judge Smith made a recommendation to Governor Bev Perdue that these positions not be filled as a costsaving measure. However, the Governor has decided to appoint judges to fill the positions, despite the recommendation. The good news is that Mecklenburg County will receive two of these district court judge positions. The bad news is that for every judge appointed, three current judicial branch positions will have to be eliminated to offset the salary cost. This means a total of 18 judicial branch employees will lose their jobs. Judge Smith did stress that any district court judge positions that may become vacant due to retirement are statutorily protected and can be filled. Freezing and eliminating vacant positions will allow the AOC to use the dollars saved to help balance the budget. “When the situation improves,�

stated Judge Smith, “we’ll fight to get them back.� In an attempt to save positions and programs, Judge Smith has taken other measures to reduce the operating budget. These include the following: all vacancies will be held until the end of the fiscal year except those that fulfill a critical core court function; all salary increases will be delayed until further notice except those that are statutorily prescribed; travel should be restricted to essential travel only; the mileage reimbursement rate for employees will be reduced from 51 cents to 25 cents per mile, effective March 1, 2009; the mileage reimbursement rate for Guardian Ad Litem volunteers will be reduced to 14 cents per mile, effective March 1, 2009; conferences will be reviewed for cost and necessity; the payment for breaks at all meetings and any conferences that are held will be eliminated except those using grant funding; the payment of all bills, equipment, or software related to technology will be moved from the General Fund to the Technology Fund; the use of emergency judges and temporary assistant district attorneys will be reviewed and limited; the scope of the telephone replacement project will be reassessed; there will be no specialty supply orders; mailings will be limited to essential items only; and effective immediately all non-statutory salary increases will be suspended until further notice. Judge Smith indicated to the group of court administrators that the Office of State Budget and Management has left no room for flexibility. “We can expect worse cuts to come,� said Judge Smith. “We need to be prepared to sacrifice empty positions, rather than those that are currently filled.� Judge Smith did state that if the time comes to eliminate filled positions, he would make cuts at the AOC level before cutting positions in the field. There was also an indication that court costs and fees may be raised to help offset operating costs. While these cuts may just be the tip of the iceberg, Judge Smith is optimistic that the Judicial Department will weather the economic storm and things will improve in the coming months ahead. In a memo to judicial officials dated Friday, February 27, Judge Smith announced, “I want to further assure everyone that as director of the AOC, I am committed to working with the Office of State Budget and Management and the General Assembly during these difficult financial times to craft a budget that protects core court services. I believe the budget I submitted in January does just that as it relies on cuts to the operating budget, select vacant positions, and selective adjustments to court fees.�

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Understanding Law

cont’d from cover

Professor Carl T. Bogus, who practiced law in Philadelphia before entering academia, accurately summarized our professional roots in a 1996 article which he titled—we hope inaccurately—“The Death of an Honorable Profession.� Quoting Professor Bogus: [L]awyers enjoyed a special status from the very beginning of the Republic. Twenty-five of the fifty-two men who signed the Declaration of Independence were lawyers. Many highly regarded—even revered—figures were lawyers, among them [Thomas] Jefferson, [Alexander] Hamilton, [John] Marshall, John Adams, and Daniel Webster. From 1790 to 1930, twothirds of all U.S. senators and roughly half of all members of the House of Representatives were lawyers; since 1937, lawyers have made up between half and three-quarters of the Senate, more than half of the House, and more than 70 percent of all presidents, vice presidents, and members of the Cabinet. Even our vocal critics often concede the immense contribution lawyers have made historically. For example, there is Professor Deborah Rhode who directs the Stanford Law School Center on Legal Ethics and the Legal Profession, and is a past-president of the Association of American Law Schools, and former Chair of the American Bar Association’s (ABA’s) Commission on Women in the Profession. An unapologetic advocate of radical reform, Professor Rhode tempers her criticism of contemporary practice by conceding what she calls “a broader truth,� namely that “[l]awyers have been architects of a governmental structure that is a model for much of the world [and have been] leaders in virtually all major movements for social justice in the nation’s history.� And, of course, there are the countless contributions lawyers have made—and continue to make—providing critical assistance to individuals, businesses, and nonprofit organizations, serving in local and state government, and generally enriching communities across the nation and around the world. On the other hand, the critics are partly right: all is not well with the contemporary practice. For several decades now, surveys and studies have shown that a substantial percentage of lawyers are at least somewhat dissatisfied professionally, that a lesser number are downright miserable, and that public respect for our profession has significantly fallen since the 1950s and 1960s—when the typical view of lawyers was not inconsistent with the portrayal of Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. In sharp contrast, according to a National Law Journal/West Publishing Company poll, by 1993 almost a third of the public believed lawyers were “less honest than most people,� and an ABA poll conducted the same year found that only one in five Americans considered lawyers to be “honest and ethical.� Although we can take issue with the accuracy of these subjective beliefs—and we should—we cannot disregard the fact that this is how we are regarded by many outsiders looking in. The survey data on lawyer satisfaction is also troubling. “Miserable with the legal life� was how a front-page Los Angeles Times article described many California lawyers in 1995. The article reported that 25 percent of the lawyers in that state were then on inactive status. The next year, 3,000 miles away in Boston, the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts chose “The Misery Factor� as the theme for their annual meeting. The L.A. Times article and the Boston meeting were preceded by ABA surveys in 1984 and 1990, which found a 20-percent drop—during those six continued on page 9

April 2009


Understanding Law cont’d from page 8 years alone—in the number of lawyers describing themselves as “very satisfied” professionally. In the 1990 survey, those reporting that they were “very dissatisfied” included 22 percent of all male partners and 43 percent of all female partners. The ABA data was supported by research at Johns Hopkins University, also reported in 1990, which examined the prevalence of “major depressive disorder” in 104 different occupations (including the major professions). The research found only five of the 104 occupations in which the occurrence of major depression exceeded 10 percent—and lawyers topped even this list, suffering from major depression at a rate 3.6 times higher than non-lawyers with the same sociodemographic traits. An extensive survey conducted in 1989 by our State Bar Association, prompted in part by the tragic suicides of eight Mecklenburg County lawyers in a seven-year period, similarly found that one in four North Carolina lawyers was then struggling with serious depression. Many of you knew well a highly-regarded lawyer who took his life in December 2008. Reading the ABA’s monthly e-magazine, which includes a blog, suggests that not much has changed in the interim. Recent articles and comments have featured firms that have rescinded offers or reduced staff and lawyers who have left the traditional practice to go in various directions—including the lawyer who made a YouTube video of burning his Harvard Law School diploma. He was opting for “a simpler life,” he said. What happened? How did our learned profession, embraced for generations as a “calling” and found to be profoundly satisfying by most who entered it, come to be dissatisfying and even depressing to many contemporary practitioners? And how did the esteem in which the legal profession has traditionally been held sink to the point that only one in five Americans believes the typical lawyer is honest and ethical? Are the roots of the answer to be found, ironically, in our unparalleled success—at least, our financial success? As legal fees soared and partners enjoyed unprecedented profits in the 1970s and 1980s, could it be that lawyers in increasing numbers lost sight of the law as a calling and began to see it more as a highly profitable business? Was that not also the point when associate salaries rose sharply— as did ever higher billable hours requirements, making a balanced life far more difficult? The first scholarly book to address these issues was Yale Law School Dean Anthony Kronman’s The Lost Lawyer: Failing Ideals of the Legal Profession, published by Harvard University Press in 1993. In words usually reserved for the pulpit, Dean Kronman pronounced that what we are facing is a “spiritual crisis” in which “the profession now stands in danger of losing its soul.” What is of such great concern to the dean of Yale Law School that he would choose religious language to describe it; to Ambassador Sol Linowitz, the late Wall Street lawyer, Chair of Xerox Corporation, and author of The Betrayed Profession (C. Scribner’s Sons, 1994); to lawyer/psychotherapist Benjamin Sells, author of The Soul of the Law (Element Books Inc, 1996); and to Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon, who had similarly bold words for our profession in her 1994 book A Nation of Lawyers (Harvard University Press)? In one way or another, at the heart of the concerns expressed by these accomplished commentators is the devolution of our understanding of law as an honorable profession—as

April 2009

a “high calling”—into little more than a pragmatic, dollar-driven business. To escape naïveté, or worse, I offer three caveats at this point. First, there is a big difference between practicing law in a business-like manner—which is commendable—and allowing money making to become our overwhelmingly dominant motivation, which is the intended target of the more persuasive criticism. Second, in a day when overhead in some firms exceeds 50 percent, when many clients are demanding almost immediate responses and at reduced rates, and lawyers and clients readily move from firm to firm, tough business—and balance—decisions are inevitable. And third, however much we embrace law as a calling or as a grand opportunity for public service, it is also hard and challenging work; in fact, anyone who enters the profession expecting a predictable 40-hour work week and consistently high income is unrealistic and probably destined for disappointment. But with those caveats, Dean Kronman is on the mark when he exhorts the profession to return to what he calls an “older set of values.” And at the heart of this “older set of values” was an assumption that the best lawyer was “not simply an accomplished technician, but a person of prudence and practical wisdom as well...a wisdom about human beings and their tangled affairs that anyone who wishes to provide real deliberative counsel must possess.” This is certainly the tradition to which the great lawyers of yesteryear adhered. Consider the refreshingly straightforward advice the great Elihu Root gave one of his clients. “The law lets you do it,” he counseled, “but don’t.... It’s a rotten thing to do.” In fact, Root—a prominent New York lawyer who received a Nobel Prize for his service as Theodore Roosevelt’s Secretary of State—once opined that: “About half the practice of a decent lawyer consists in telling would-be clients they are damned fools and should stop.” Although I discuss the subject more systematically in my book (LawyerLife: Finding a Life and a Higher Calling in the Practice of Law, ABA Publishing, 2003), let me make brief mention in this article of a few of the steps we as individuals and as a profession can and should be taking. I package them in LawyerLife, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as “the world’s first 12-step program for lawyers.” The first ingredient toward healing is— realistically—to assess where we are (individually and as a profession) and to agree on where it is we want to go. As the Proverb instructs, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” The same is true of a profession. Hopefully we will agree with Dean Kronman that what he calls “an older set of values” should be reinvigorated, including the pursuit of “wisdom about human beings and their tangled affairs.” Wisdom! And while we’re at it, can we agree that we should care, as individuals and as a profession, more about justice and truth than about winning at any cost or maximizing our bottom lines? Next let us ask ourselves what we individually and collectively value, or to use a more oldfashioned “v word,” what we consider virtuous. Those who are charitable with their time and resources, perhaps? Those who are passionate about a cause and sacrifice to advance it? Those who transcend narrow self-interest, reaching out helping hands or giving in a meaningful way to those who are less fortunate? And, of course, let us never lose sight of the central importance of making the nurture of our families and close friendships a clear, and lifelong, priority. Sometimes we need a wake-up call before we

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understand the importance of this last point. I recall a conversation in chambers with Keith Tart, then a partner in a large North Carolina firm who had a national toxic torts practice and had been admitted pro hac vice in over 30 state and federal courts—so you can imagine how much time he was spending at home. Keith told me that he got his wake-up call when his first-grade daughter was asked in school to draw a picture of her family. He wasn’t in the picture! The family dog was, but he wasn’t. We take a major step in the right direction if we simply commit to applying the Golden Rule in our professional lives: treating others—including our clients, opposing counsel, and their clients—as we ourselves wish to be treated. It perhaps goes without saying that this implies civility, honesty, and unimpeachable ethics, including scrupulous honesty in our billing practices. Lawyers in search of balanced excellence should give special attention to emotional balance, that is, to balance between the rational/cognitive left-brain elements of human experience—where many lawyers are at their best—and the “softer” right-brain elements, including feelings, imagination, and what we collectively refer to as “heart.” Lawyer-turned-psychotherapist Benjamin Sells makes this point very effectively in his book, The Soul of the Law, attributing the loneliness and depression experienced by many of his lawyer patients primarily to the absence of emotional balance and health. There are also a number of more pragmatic steps we can take to make our professional lives more fulfilling. Among these would be practicing good time management; implementing healthy lifestyle practices, including regular exercise; watching our consumer spending, living beneath our means; resisting the push of technology to control our lives 24/7; and being more circumspect about which clients we agree to represent. For more of my thoughts on these and other “steps,” you will have to read LawyerLife! This brings me to my last suggestion: avail yourselves of the growing literature expounding on these themes. Several years ago a group of us put together an annotated bibliography for the ABA’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs; if you give me your card or e-mail your address, I’ll be glad to send you a copy. I suggest that you start with Steven Keeva’s inspiring book Transforming Practices: Finding Joy and Satisfaction in the Legal Life (Contemporary Books, 1999). Keeva, a non-lawyer legal journalist, draws the reader in with compelling anecdotal stories about lawyers from a variety of backgrounds who have found the kind of professional and personal equilibrium for which we should each strive. Transforming Practices is one of those rare books that both stimulates the mind and warms the heart. One hundred and eighty years ago Justice Joseph Story penned his often-quoted observation that “the law is a jealous mistress.” The remainder of his reflection, which points to the focused passion which is required if we are to renew our profession, is less well known. Included in an article published in 1829 and titled “The Value and Importance of Legal Studies,” Justice Story wrote: “[The Law] is a jealous mistress, and requires a long and constant courtship. It is not to be won by trifling favors, but by lavish homage.” In other words, as we lawyers pursue “balanced excellence,” aware of those on whose shoulders we stand, a key component must be that our priorities and actions unequivocally show that we love the profession we have chosen. My hope and prayer is that we, individually and collectively, are up to the task.

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Late Spring/Early Summer 2009 MCB Events MCB Events at a Glance Event Date

Event

Registration Deadline

April 30

Spring Swearing-In

April 24

May 1

MCB Law Day Luncheon

April 24

Thursday, April 30

Spring 2009 Swearing-In Ceremony When:

May 21

MCB Annual Meeting

May 18

May/June

Co-Ed Softball League

May 15

June 11

Lawyers’ Luncheon Series

June 5

August 26

MCB Golf Tournament

August 21

2:30 p.m. for new attorney registration; 4:00 p.m. for the ceremony; reception following Where: Marriott City Center, 100 W. Trade St. Attire: Business formal Registration: Please go to www.meckbar.org for more information and a registration form. Questions: Please contact Amy at sections@meckbar.org or 704/375-8624, ext. 124.

Friday, May 1

Law Day Luncheon Expects Heavy Turnout The MCB Law Day Committee expects to see a heavy turnout for the May 1 annual Law Day Luncheon. A number of judges from our state and federal courts have already committed to attend the event. The luncheon will feature North Justice Timmons-Goodson Carolina’s own Supreme Court Justice Timmons-Goodson as the keynote speaker. Justice Timmons-Goodson is one of North Carolina’s longest-serving active judges. She is the first African-American woman to sit on the North Carolina Supreme Court and only the third woman elected to do so. The Luncheon will also feature the presentation of the Liberty Bell Award. Firm sponsorships are available for $550.00. Firm table sponsorship includes reserved seating for 10 people. The Law Day Committee asks law firm sponsors to reserve a seat at their table so that a judge can join them in this wonderful celebration. Please contact Leah Reed at 704/375-8624, ext 114, if your firm would like to support this special luncheon and/or purchase additional tickets.

Please note, for security purposes, all attendees must register in advance and show a photo identification at when checking in. For more details, please visit www.meckbar.org. When: 12:00–1:30 p.m.; May 1 Where: Hilton Charlotte Center City, 222 E. Third St. Cost: $30 per person by check; $31 per person by credit card

Registration: To register with a check, please use the form below. To register by credit card, please go to www.meckbar.org (there will be a $1 processing charge). The registration deadline is April 24. Questions: Please contact Leah at lreed@meckbar.org or 704/375-8624, ext. 115.

2009 MCB Law Day Luncheon Registration Form Name___________________________________________________________________________________ Firm name_______________________________________________________________________________ E-mail __________________________________________________________________________________ Phone _____________________________________Fax__________________________________________

■ Enclosed is my check payable to Mecklenburg County Bar for $30 Please mail your registration form and check by 4/24/09 to MCB Law Day, 438 Queens Road, Charlotte, NC 28207.

M a j o r, Lindsey & Africa

®

Attorney Search Consultants

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www.meckbar.org

April 2009


Thursday, May 21 Back by popular demand, the lovely shaded lawn of the First Presbyterian Church will again serve as the backdrop for the MCB Annual Meeting. Kick off summer with food, fun, and your fellow members at the biggest Bar gathering of the year. Elect the new Board officers for the next fiscal year, elect your 2013 class of board members, vote on MCB bylaw amendments, recognize those who did outstanding pro bono work, and get updates about the Bar. Rain backup is at First Presbyterian Fellowship Hall. When: 12:00–1:30 p.m., May 21 Where: First Presbyterian Church Lawn, 200 W. Trade St. Cost: $13 per person by check; $14 per person by credit card; $17 per person at the door (Lunch availability for walk-ins may be limited.) Registration: To register with a check, please use the

form below. To register by credit card, please go to www.meckbar.org (there will be a $1 processing charge). The registration deadline is May 18.

Questions:

Please contact Leah at lreed@meckbar.org or 704/375-8624, ext. 115.

2009 MCB Annual Meeting Registration Form Name*___________________________________________________________________________________ Firm name _______________________________________________________________________________ Address*_________________________________________________________________________________ E-mail ___________________________________________________________________________________ Phone* ____________________________________ Fax__________________________________________

Enclosed is my check payable to Mecklenburg County Bar for $13. Please mail your registration form and check by 5/18/09 to MCB Annual Meeting, 438 Queens Road, Charlotte, NC 28207. * required information

Thursday, June 11

Network at Luncheon Series Join your fellow Mecklenburg County Bar (MCB) members for food and fellowship at the final monthly Luncheon Series for 2008–09. Keep an eye on our website and your weekly Bar Blast for our next speaker. See you at our next luncheon on June 11! When: Noon, June 11 Where: First Presbyterian Church, 200 W. Trade St. Cost: $10 Registration: Please use the form below or go to www.meckbar.org to register by June 5, 2009. Questions: Please contact Leah (lreed@meckbar.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

TOTALING: _____________

Please mail your registration form and check before 6/5/09 to MCB Luncheon Series, 438 Queens Road, Charlotte, NC 28207.

Late May/Early June

Order Your 2008-09 Directories Today!

Sign Up for Softball!

The 2008–09 Annual Membership Directory will be a critical resource for you and your staff to find important contact information on the courts, judges, and agencies. You’ll find contact information for each member, individually and by firm. So order copies for your paralegals and support staff today!

Spring is here, so pull out your Louisville Slugger and grab your glove! Your Bar is organizing both a co-ed league and a lawyer’s league. Both leagues will start in late May/early June, so start organizing your team rosters now! Start dates and other information will be in the May issue of Bar News and in the weekly Bar Blast. To sign up for the lawyer’s league, please contact co-commissioner Bryan Stone at bstone@stonelawnc.com. To sign up for the co-ed league, please contact co-commissioner Carrie Mansfield at cmansfield@charlottelaw.edu. Registration deadline is May 15.

Name ___________________________________________________________________________________ Firm name _______________________________________________________________________________ Address__________________________________________________________________________________ E-mail ___________________________________________________________________________________ Phone _____________________________________ Fax__________________________________________

■ Please reserve ____ additional* member copies ($40 each) of the 2008–09 Directory. ■ Please reserve ____ nonmember copies ($50 each) of the 2008–09 Directory. *Members receive one copy free as part of their membership dues. ■ I’m enclosing a check payable to Mecklenburg County Bar TOTALING

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Prefer electronic newsletter only? Email Jill Wiggins at jwiggins@meckbar.org (subject line: Online Bar News). April 2009

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Please mail your order form and check to MCB Directory, 438 Queens Road, Charlotte, NC 28207 or fax the form to 704/333-6209 if paying by credit card.

www.meckbar.org

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MECKLENBURG COUNTY BAR

438 Queens Road Charlotte, NC 28207 ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED

In This Issue

PRSRT STD

U.S. POSTAGE

PAID

CHARLOTTE, NC

PERMIT NO. 3337

Annual Conference Exposes Minority Students to Legal Profession ..............................................................................5 Proposed Bylaw Amendments ...........................................................5 LRS: Connecting You to New Clients..............................................6 LRS: Bridging the Gap Between the Classroom & Workplace........6 Memorial Service for Robin Ledbetter Hinson ................................6 VLP: Volunteer Spotlight...................................................................7 Charlotte ACC Chapter Elects Officers and Board.........................7 Court Communiqués ..........................................................................8 MCB Events............................................................................10 & 11 Law Day Luncheon Expects Heavy Turnout ..................................10

DATED MATERIAL

Understanding Law ....................................................................cover Growing Needs Demand a Growing Base of Support......................1 Coping in the Recession ....................................................................1 Annual Meeting/Nominating Committee Report ...........................1 CLE Course Schedule.........................................................................2 CLE in Your Own Backyard...............................................................3 Resources for Navigating Today’s Economy......................................3 ABA Event Comes to Charlotte .......................................................3 How to Stop Litigating Ourselves Out of Good Relationships .......4 MCB Budgeting Process.....................................................................4 YLS Needs Your Help.........................................................................4

Knowledge of the Legal Market. Access to Talent. With practice and recruitment experience in every major market in North and South Carolina, CAROLINA LEGAL STAFFING, the trusted leader in legal employment services, provides full service permanent and temporary placement for attorneys, paralegals and legal support personnel.

Charlotte • Raleigh • Columbia • Greenville 201 South College Street • Suite 1690 • Charlotte, NC 28244 • 704/343-4822 www.carolinalegal.com • email: info@carolinalegal.com

Reclaiming Our Roots:

Volume 35 No. 10

April 2009

www.meckbar.org

continued on page 8

name of 10 percent of their theoretical brothers and sisters at the Bar. Indeed, a Charlotte lawyer who is a partner in a truly large firm confided in me several years ago that he regularly encounters lawyers he doesn’t know in his own firm. He recognizes them only because they have the same firm identification card necessary to operate the elevator. For decades and well into the 1980s, lawyers in Charlotte and elsewhere somehow found time for busy and thriving practices and for seemingly limitless public service. For example, the 16 lawyers ahead of me at Grier Parker collectively served as chairs of the boards of Queens College, the Charlotte YMCA, our Symphony Orchestra, Opera, and Arts & Science Council, and as chairs of the County Democratic and Republican Parties. One served for a time as one of the highest-ranking laymen in the Presbyterian Church, another as president of his synagogue. Two served as chairs of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education. The times have changed, particularly in large firm practice in more urban areas like Charlotte, and these are realities we have to take into account as we think about the lack of satisfaction a significant percentage of lawyers have reported in polls and surveys beginning in the 1980s. I hope most of you deep down are proud to be lawyers and you have a sense of being part of a profession with a storied past and—notwithstanding all the lawyer jokes and bashing—a profession that continues to play a crucial role in our relatively free and orderly society. But I also assume it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of our notable heritage from time to time.

Understanding Law as a “Learned Profession” and “High Calling”

by Carl Horn III

As Bob Dylan crooned—or as one of our kids irreverently described it, “croaked”—in the sixties, “the times they are a changin’.” Or, more accurately, they have “a changed.” When I graduated from law school in 1976, I joined what was then considered one of Charlotte’s four “large firms,” known at the time as Grier Parker (now as Parker Poe). With my addition, we were 17 in number, 14 of whom were partners. William Rikard had just finished his fourth year and made partner; Billy Farthing, Hank Hankins, and I were the three associates. There were only three other firms in Charlotte in 1976 with more than 15 lawyers; most of our colleagues were practicing in firms numbering four or less. We now swear in hundreds of lawyers in Charlotte each year—more new lawyers annually than there were in the entire Mecklenburg County Bar when my father graduated from Duke Law School and began practicing in the late 1940s. There are now over 4,000 lawyers in Mecklenburg County, at least five Charlotte-based firms now have more than a hundred lawyers, and there are an increasing number of large regional or national firms with a substantial local presence. In my father’s day and continuing into the 1960s, most lawyers in Charlotte had their offices in a single place: the Law Building (which, with a touch of irony, was torn down to make room for an expanded jail). In those days the lawyers in Charlotte not only knew each other; many were close personal friends. Today, it is safe to say that it is the rare lawyer who would recognize the face or even the written

April 2009


The Mecklenburg Bar News - 4/09  

April 2009 edition

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