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October 2009

Volume 36 No. 4

President’s Letter

The Future is Now One of my goals as the Mecklenburg County Bar President is to place more emphasis on strategic planning. My experience in Patrick E. Kelly, whatever organization I MCB President have been affiliated with— from the U.S. Army to my law firm to various nonprofit boards—is that each organization recognizes the significance of strategic planning, but few want to do it. Strategic planning is hard work. It takes a great deal of thought and effort, and it does not provide the immediate gratification we all crave. The MCB is no different when it comes to strategic planning. Our organization, and in particular the President, is hard-wired to focus primarily on the issues at hand and let the next guy or gal worry about the future. There tends to be a “one and done” and “let’s just make it through the year” mentality. Let me make it clear that I am not advocating a repeal on term limits. The current one-year term for MCB President is just fine, thank you. Although there are drawbacks to having term limits, there are also benefits. Term limits can empower elected leaders to make tough decisions. To recommend bold action. To challenge the status quo. All without the constraint of being politically correct or needing to worry about re-election. One of the foremost strategic issues facing our Bar today is the need for a newer, bigger and better Bar Center. There can be little debate that the MCB’s existing 5,900 square foot Bar Center is no longer adequate. Since the current Bar Center was

purchased in 1993, MCB membership has nearly doubled, as have demands for CLE and other MCB services. This growth has dramatically increased the MCB’s staffing and space needs. The current Bar Center, as charming as it is, can no longer support our growing needs. The situation has led us to ask whether we should continue to invest the Bar’s finite resources to maintain an aging and marginally adequate Bar facility, or whether the Bar is better served by considering other alternatives. For the past two years, the Bar and the Bar Foundation have studied this issue and concluded that the Bar needs at least 13,000 square feet of office and meeting space, more than twice what we now have. Our Bar Facilities Committee has reviewed and considered various options from expanding our current facility to leasing, purchasing or even building a new Bar Center. The real issue is no longer whether we do something, but when and where. Amidst these discussions, one question that has received less attention, but which is equally important, is how we pay for it. The answer to this question is one which strikes fear in the heart of every Bar President, including this one. It touches upon the “third rail” of MCB politics. Not since 2001—nearly a decade ago—has the issue been seriously debated or considered. A dues increase. There. I said it. A dues increase. The Bar needs to consider a dues increase to pay for a new or expanded Bar Center and to meet the ever growing needs of our Bar. A dues increase cannot be imposed upon the Bar. Only the MCB members, at the Annual

Meeting, can approve a dues increase. It is my goal at the next annual meeting in May 2010 to ask our members to vote to approve an increase in Bar dues (currently $150 per year). The specifics of the proposal have yet to be determined. I intend to rely heavily on input from the MCB Board of Directors, Executive Committee, Finance Committee, Strategic Planning Committee and Bar Facilities Committee. The Mecklenburg Bar Foundation will also play a significant role, as will the MCB Executive Director and Bar staff. The process will be as open and transparent as it can be. In the interim, I expect there will be discussion and debate regarding the need for a dues increase, the amount and timing of the increase, and related issues. I encourage open and honest debate about what is best for our Bar. I hope that in the course of this debate we can all learn from the ongoing health care reform debate. Without full disclosure of the plan, there is fear and suspicion. Without respectful and honest debate, there is anger and chaos. I am a one-term President. I am not seeking re-election. I do not have any hidden agendas. I am a fiscal conservative. I understand that not all lawyers have the same financial resources and that each may be impacted differently by a dues increase. I appreciate that lawyers of good will and good intention may have legitimate philosophical differences regarding the scope of the MCB’s reach and mission (akin to the big government versus small government debate). However, I have a sworn obligation to protect our Bar and its members and to prepare for the future health and well-being of our Bar. The future is now.

Local Judges Go the Extra Mile BY CHARLES KELLER, JR., COMMUNITY ACCESS & OUTREACH ADMINISTRATOR During our current budget crisis, many of our judges have gone above and beyond what is required of them as public servants. Realizing the gravity of the current Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) budget situation, several of our local emergency judges stepped up to the plate and volunteered their time on the bench to ensure court sessions were covered in times of need. Starting in mid-April, the AOC suspended the use of emergency judges unless the money had been previously committed or a grant was funding the work being performed by the judge. The suspension came as part of an effort of the governor to resolve a deficient state budget by cutting the AOC’s payroll budget by 95 percent in March. Emergency judges are retirees who are often needed on a part-time basis to oversee court proceedings for judges who are ill or on vacation. They have the same authority and function in the same capacity as sitting judges. Statewide, there are 25 emergency judges for Superior Court and 59 for District Court. According to Sharon Gladwell, spokesperson for the AOC, emergency judges serving

October 2009

on the Superior Court bench volunteered for 18 weeks and District Court judges donated a total of 120 sessions (approximately 18 weeks) of free work to the state through July 31. As of August 2009, the State realized a cost savings of approximately $100,000 due to the donated time for Superior and District Court combined. “During August, District and Superior Court Judges will volunteer 40 days of work statewide,” said Gladwell. That breaks down to 4 days in Superior Court and 36 in District Court. Emergency judges are paid a flat rate of $400 per day, plus the cost of their travel and meals. According to Ms. Gladwell, even before the budget crisis, many emergency judges chose not to submit their expense receipts for reimbursement. During FY07-08, approximately $1 million was spent paying emergency judges. Locally, emergency District Court Judges include the Honorable Jane V. Harper, the Honorable Resa Harris, the Honorable Nancy Norelli, the Honorable Hugh Campbell, the Honorable Jerome Leonard, and former Chief District Court Judge Fritz Y. Mercer, Jr. In a memo from AOC Director Judge John W. Smith dated July 31, Judge Norelli indicated, “I am happy to serve for free on any assignments.” In that same memo, Judge Campbell said, “It seems to me that this

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is the least we can do as Emergency Judges to keep the system running.” For Superior Court, the late Honorable Clifton Johnson worked two weeks in Mecklenburg and one week in a neighboring county before he passed away and the Honorable Michael Beale worked one full week. Both judges worked without being paid for their time on the bench. Chief District Court Judge Lisa Bell is very grateful for the efforts of these judges. "If not for the dedication of these true public servants, dozens of Mecklenburg County court hours would have gone unutilized and literally hundreds of cases would have had to be continued in the past four months. These judges have my deepest gratitude." In a bleak time when we have all had to make sacrifices, the dedication of our judges is inspirational. “I cannot let this week end without recognizing judges who have donated their time so that our courts could operate during this very stressful time,” AOC Director Judge John Smith wrote July 31. “I hope we can soon end the need for these fine public servants to work without pay,” he added. “I am certain I speak for many when I say ‘thank you' for going the extra mile.”

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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 prerecorded CLEs at the Mecklenburg County Bar (MCB) Center, local sites, and even at your own office. You can also view our online programs right at your desk–24/7. Our programs are competitively priced with rarely any additional longdistance travel expenses. Our customer service is friendly, competent, and knowledgeable. Support your local Bar by getting your CLE credits through the courses listed.

In-House Video Replays You can bring CLE video replays to your firm by contacting Lisa Armanini at larmanini@meckbar.org or CLE Assistant Sally Kenney at skenney@meckbar.org. At least three attorneys must view the course, and Lisa or Sally need at least 30 days notice. Video replay hours do not count towards the four-hour online allotment.

Online Programs Online CLE Programs are available on demand, 24 hours a day at www.meckbar.org. The N.C. State Bar allows up to four hours of online courses annually–video and live programs do not count towards that total. The MCB endorses Education Over the Net as our online hosting service. Customer service line 800/5906867.

Annual Pass Purchase a CLE Annual Pass for $695 and get up to 24 hours of CLE credits. Program materials are yours at no additional cost and State Bar CLE fees are paid for you. After you have reached the 24 hour limit, you may purchase additional CLE courses for $30 an hour. Valid from 7/1/09 to 6/30/10. The CLE Annual Pass does not include online programming or courses running more than 12 hours in length. Non-transferable.

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, Rhea Kelley, John Lassiter, Phillip Lewis, Nancy Roberson, Michael Shor, Russ Traw

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Live Programs Keys for Successful Trust Account Practices CLE Credit: 2.0 General hours Date: Thursday, October 8, 2009 Time: Registration 12:00 p.m. Program: 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $120 attorney rate; $60 paralegal rate Public Defenders Conference and CLE Training CLE Credit: 12.0 Total hours Thursday, October 8 and Friday Date: October 9, 2009 Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Program: 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. each day Location: TCA Training Room 4th floor, Charlotte Mecklenburg Courthouse $90 Entire Conference or $10 per Fees: PD and Council of Children’s Rights attorneys; $325 attorney rate or $30 per hour Just Because You’re a Lawyer… Doesn’t Make You Interesting CLE Credit: 3.0 General hours Thursday, October 15, 2009 Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Program: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Location: TCA Training Room 4th floor, Charlotte Mecklenburg Courthouse Fees: $175 attorney rate; $75 paralegal rate Simple Wills and End of Life Planning Documents CLE Credit: 3.0 General hours Date: Friday, October 23, 2009 Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Program: 9:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Location: MCB center Fees: $90 attorney rate: $45 paralegal rate and pro bono attorney rate Emotional Resilience in Stressful Times CLE Credit: 1.0 Mental Health hour Date: Friday, October 30, 2009 Time: Registration: 12:00 p.m. Program: 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $75 attorney rate; $35 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 hour + 0.5 Ethics hour Dates: Monday, November 2 and Monday, December 14, 2009 Registration 8:30 a.m. Time: Program: 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Location: MCB Center $90 attorney rate; Fees: $45 paralegal rate Put Into Practice: Management Tips for Your Firm CLE Credit: 2.0 General hours + 1.0 Ethics hour Date: Thursday, November 5, 2009 Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Program: 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Location: Crowne Plaza Hotel Fees: $135 attorney rate; $60 paralegal rate Construction Law CLE Credit: 4.0 General hours Date: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Program: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $190 attorney rate: $85 paralegal rate What You Need to Know About Divisible Property: MCB Family Law Section Seminar CLE Credit: 4.0 hours Thursday, November 12, 2009 Date: Time: Registration 12:00 p.m. Program: 12:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Junior League of Charlotte Location: Fees: $175 attorney rate; $150 MCB Family Law Section rate; $75 paralegal rate Conservation Easements CLE Credit: 3.0 General hours Date: Friday, November 13, 2009 Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Program: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Location: MCB Center Fees: $175 attorney rate; $90 paralegal rate 9th Banking and Finance Forum CLE Credit: 6.0 General hours Date: Friday, November 20, 2009 Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Program: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Location: International Trade Center Fees: $295 Attorney Rate; $135 Paralegal Rate

Nominations Sought for Ayscue Professionalism Award Nominations are being sought for the Mecklenburg Bar Foundation’s 2009 Ayscue Professionalism Award. The award will be presented at the Law & Society Luncheon on November 19, 2009. The Ayscue Professionalism Award recognizes exemplary professionalism, as broadly defined. Criteria may include one or more of the following: • Outstanding service through or on behalf of the Mecklenburg County Bar or the Mecklenburg Bar Foundation for the benefit of the legal community or the community at large. •

Substantial and significant service to the community, to the Bar, or to the justice system, whether on the basis of lifetime contributions or a specific project.

Embodiment of the traits to which all attorneys should aspire: high ethical standards, model conduct, unquestioned integrity, and consistent competence.

Nominations should be sent by October 16, 2009, to Nancy Roberson, Executive Director, Mecklenburg Bar Foundation, 438 Queens Road, Charlotte, NC 28207.

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October 2009


Mecklenburg County Teen Court

American Bar Association

Assistance League of Charlotte

The ABA held its Annual Meeting July 30 August 4, 2009 in Chicago. A lot goes on at an Annual ABA meeting, and I will not attempt to tell the whole story. The “Program Book” which lists the CLE programs, Committee and Subcommittee meetings, Section and Division meetings and forums, and provides other relevant information about the meeting is 287 pages. The book publishing the initial reports and recommendations to the ABA House of Delegates is 400 pages. The entire proceedings of the House of Delegates can be viewed on the archive section of the ABA web site. If you have never attended an ABA meeting, it is an opportunity to get two years worth of CLE in one meeting and to learn about what is going on nationally in your practice area. I attended the 2009 Annual Meeting of the ABA from August 1-4 as the delegate from the Mecklenburg County Bar. Because of our size, Mecklenburg and Wake County bars each have a voting delegate to the ABA House of Delegates. The opening assembly was held on August 1 in the historic Orchestra Hall at Chicago Symphony Center. After welcoming remarks from ABA President Tommy Wells and Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn and a stirring reading from Abraham Lincoln’s “Notes from a Law Lecture,” the keynote address was delivered by Retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter. Souter’s message was passionate, well thought out and compelling. He called upon the ABA and the organized bar to support a return to civics education in the interest of preserving our system of government. He cited a recent survey which indicated that two of three Americans cannot name the three branches of government. The most frequent wrong answer was “democrat, republican and independent.” Souter questioned how United States citizens can understand the importance of an independent judiciary when most don’t understand the role of the judiciary. The lack of civic literacy has wide ranging negative implications. President Tommy Wells and incoming President Carolyn Lamm were supportive of the call from Souter for the ABA to support civics education. The ABA has various initiatives to encourage civics education and you will be hearing more about what you can do to support this important initiative. Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the House of Delegates on Monday afternoon. He called for reduced dependence on incarceration as a

BY HON. HUGH B. LEWIS Members of the Mecklenburg County Bar (MCB) have been actively supporting Teen Court since its inception in 1997. Teen Court is an alternative to traditional Juvenile Court. Teen Court meets twice each month (with members of the MCB volunteering their time to preside over the court sessions). The defendants are youth between the ages of 10 and 15 who have no previous convictions and admit their guilt. The sentencing jury is comprised of teens. The attorneys are also teens who have been trained to handle both the prosecution and defense. Some of these teens are volunteers, but many are past defendants. Sitting on the sentencing jury is part of sanctions of Teen Court. The “jury duty” helps teens develop an understanding of thinking before acting over a broad spectrum of behavior not just the particular act that brought a particular teen to court. Teen Court works. There is only a 5.6% recidivism rate for Teen Court defendants. The program needs additional attorney volunteers to help train “teen attorneys” and assist them in preparing their cases for the jury. Another volunteer opportunity involves working with the jury, advising the youth during deliberations as they determine the constructive sentence that will be a learning experience for the defendant. For more information about the Teen Court program and what you can do to assist, please contact one of the Teen Court co-chairmen: • Marsha Coppinger, 704-314-0843, dallascopp@bellsouth.net •

Jane Rosinski, 704-534-0561, wrosinski@bellsouth.net

Program details are available on the Assistance League website, www.charlotte.assistanceleague.org. You may well be the mentor for a budding attorney. An example of this “budding attorney” story is Mica Linh Nguyen an attorney at Cranfill, Sumner & Hartzog, LLP. Ms. Nguyen began her trek to being a lawyer when she became involved with Teen Court back at the age of 13. Ms. Nguyen’s experience is best summed up by her own statement. “Teen Court has been a huge influence on my life. It solidified my desire to pursue a career in the legal field as well as gave me an opportunity to bolster my analytical skills and public speaking skills.”

2009 Chicago Annual Meeting BY EDWARD T. HINSON, JR., MECKLENBURG COUNTY BAR DELEGATE

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solution to crime, pointing out that the United States has the highest rate of incarceration of any country in the world, with one of every one hundred adults in America currently incarcerated. One of the more personally stirring moments for me during the ABA House of Delegates meeting was the presentation of awards to outstanding lawyers who have spent their lives in distinguished service to the profession, society, and clients. Bill Gates, Sr., a founder of K&L Gates and father to Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, Jr. was given the ABA medal for a lifetime of impressive service. The citation setting forth Gates’ accomplishments and his acceptance speech is on the ABA web site and worth viewing. Access to justice has been a lifetime passion for Gates. In his remarks he eloquently called for continuing support for legal services organizations. Outgoing President Wells summed up the activities of the ABA during his term of office. He stressed that the ABA is the national voice for lawyers on issues of interest to the profession, and our work through the ABA makes a difference. This past year, the Connecticut Governor targeted the IOLTA funds of the Connecticut State Bar for seizure to meet general budget shortfalls. The State Bar seemed outgunned on the issue. The ABA mobilized support, and the Governor backed down. The ABA has spoken out on issues of judicial independence and in support of fair and independent state courts. Internationally, the ABA supported Pakistan’s lawyers when they stood against the military, and for preservation of the rule of law in that troubled country. While most of us have more than enough to do to take care of our clients and families and devote some time to local and state bar activities, the ABA has many opportunities for service. Your area of practice probably has a section or forum which could put you to work if you are interested. Visit the ABA web site to explore the opportunities available to ABA members.

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Softball Leagues Crown Two New Champions

Lawyers League Champion DAs Office

BY BRYAN W. STONE, SOFTBALL CO-COMMISSIONER The 2009 Mecklenburg County Bar (MCB) softball season is in the books and congratulations go to the District Attorneys (Lawyers League Champions) and Charlotte School of Law (Co-Ed League Champions). This year’s season provided us with plenty of rain, but also one of the most competitive years we’ve seen in quite a long time. Even the MCB softball league was not immune to the economic woes of our society as several traditional teams did not participate this year. Notwithstanding, the leagues were extremely competitive from top to bottom and we look forward to welcoming back those teams that took the year off.

Co-Ed League Champion Charlotte School of Law

In the Lawyers League, several teams broke from their traditional, middle-of-the-pack position to compete with the long-time stalwarts of the league; teams like Pain and Suffering, Harmless Errors, and Gov’t Thugs pulled off impressive victories and upsets. In the semifinals, however, the DAs came back late in the game to defeat the #1 seed, Parker Poe, which had handed the DAs two previous losses during the regular season. Similarly, More Cowbell pulled off an impressive victory over defending champs and #2 seed, Robinson Bradshaw Hinson. In the end, the District Attorneys rose to the occasion and held the mantle of 2009 Lawyers League Champion for the first time in distant memory. In the Co-Ed league, the DAs had a similarly

impressive showing by finding themselves in the Championship Game against the Charlotte School of Law, which beat Hedrick Gardner in the semifinals. At the end of the day, the Charlotte School of Law used their youth and athleticism to trump the DAs to claim the Co-Ed League Championship. Thank you to all the participants for another successful season of the MCB Softball League. Now it’s time to clean off your cleats and wash those “lucky” socks that have been marinating in your trunk all summer. It’s time to go oil up the old ball mitt and re-grip your softball bat. Just be sure to stretch that throwing arm sometime when it’s cold outside; summer will be here again in no time.

Shocking Scandal Rocks Golf Tournament! Critics Argue Captain’s Choice Format Anti-Democratic BY JOHN C. NIPP, SOCIAL SPORTS COMMITTEE CO-CHAIR The 90-degree heat was not the only thing burning up Raintree Country Club’s North Course at the MCB’s Annual Golf Tournament on August 26. Many teams posted scintillating scores in this captain’s choice event which drew over 70 players. In the end, the team of Roy Santonil, Deke Falls, John McMahon, and Laura Reed prevailed with a team score of 57. As Deke Falls raised the imaginary MeckBar Cup over his head in victory, teammate Laura Reed commented, “This was a great team win. And by that I mean that I carried these other guys all day long.” Each member of the winning team received a free round of golf for four courtesy of Raintree Country Club.

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After guaranteeing a win in the pre-tourney press conference, a humbled George Sistrunk was magnanimous in defeat. “I congratulate the winners on making good use of their full allotment of 16 mulligans, plus the other 10 mulligans and the eight-foot gimme’s they strategically employed,” he said. Putting a positive spin on his team’s losing performance, Chris Osborn declared, “We broke a lot of windows out there today, so Roy Santonil, John McMahon, Laura Reed, and Deke Falls, winners of the hopefully that will help 2009 MCB Golf Tournament the economy by generating some work for thanks to these sponsors for donating the following area handymen. I feel good about that.” door prizes: a gift certificate for dry cleaning services, The Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm donated courtesy of Back by Five Cleaners; free golf swing prizes to the winners of the longest drive (Jeff analysis and five swing lessons, courtesy of GolfTEC; Thompson) and closest-to-the-pin (Dan Roberts) a $50 gift certificate to 131 Main, courtesy of Brock competitions. Bar staffers Leah Reed and Amy Young & Scott, PLLC; two tickets to the NASCAR watched over the 17th green to serve as official Banking 500, courtesy of Lowe’s Motor Speedway; witnesses had someone won a new car with a hole-inand two tickets to La Bohème, courtesy of Opera one courtesy of Mercedes-Benz of South Charlotte. Carolina. Reed and Young reported that they might as well Our biggest thanks, however, go to all have been giving away a Gulfstream because nobody participants for making this one of the most even came close. successful MCB golf tournaments to date. We hope The Social Sports Committee thanks the to see all our old friends, along with some new faces, following supporting sponsors for making this one of at next year’s tournament! the best events in recent memory: Lawyers Mutual, Alston & Bird, and Shapiro & Ingle. In addition,

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October 2009


MCB Volunteer Spotlight: Austin Nash This month’s spotlight is on Austin Nash of Moore & Van Allen, PLLC. Austin wears several hats at Moore & Van Allen, one of which is the Pro Bono Coordinator. She participates in the monthly Mecklenburg County Bar Volunteer Lawyer Program (MCB VLP) meetings as well as stays in close contact with the staff of MCB VLP and partner organizations. Austin Nash If you are interested in finding ways your firm’s Pro Bono Coordinator can become more involved with the MCB VLP, please contact Mary Jordan Mullinax at the Bar at 704/375-8624 ext.115 or mjmullinax@meckbar.org. MCB VLP: Current Employer / number of years with current employer AN: Moore & Van Allen, PLLC; 2 years MCB VLP: Education AN: BA, Communication Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill MCB VLP: How did you discover this pro bono career path?

AN: Pro bono work is a big part of MVA. I started at MVA as a Marketing Assistant, and transitioned into the role of coordinating pro bono and community projects for the Charlotte office. MCB VLP: What is the typical process for placing a pro bono case? AN: Our community partners let me know what type of pro bono case needs to be placed. I run a conflicts check, and then depending on what type of case it is, I call one of our attorneys to see if they are available to take the case. I then ensure the volunteer attorney is put in contact with the community partner representative and has a copy of the case description. I’m fortunate to work with many attorneys familiar with several different types of cases.

and Council for Children’s Rights. I typically don’t have more than 1 or 2 cases at a time. MCB VLP: What is your hope for the future with regard to the pro bono initiatives with your firm and the greater MCB? AN: I hope that Moore & Van Allen continues to make pro bono work a top priority. As a firm, we recognize that our attorneys are a valuable resource that can provide legal assistance to those in need within our community. Pro bono initiatives as an important way to give back and make a difference. MCB VLP: What is your favorite part of your job? AN: The relationships that have formed between our firm and our community partners; they can always reach out to us, and we hope to always be able to offer them assistance. I like knowing that I can be a small part in helping form that relationship.

MCB VLP: How many pro bono cases do you typically handle at one time?

MCB VLP: What the most challenging part of your current job?

AN: I facilitate cases as I’m contacted by our community partners. The organizations that contact us most frequently are Legal Aid, Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, the MCB, the Self Serve Center

AN: It’s tough knowing how many people are in need. It can be stressful at times, but knowing I’m helping someone or an organization makes it worth it.

Mecklenburg Bar Foundation Patrons Fund

Thank You! BY RICHARD M. THIGPEN As is the case with the majority of local fundraising efforts these days, the Mecklenburg Bar Foundation’s (MBF) Patrons Fund Campaign is not immune to the challenges of the current economic recession. Unfortunately, Richard M. Thigpen revenue sources are becoming increasingly competitive as the needs of our attorneys and the greater community continue to grow. In response to the growing needs, the MBF set an ambitious goal to raise $125,000 for the Patrons Fund. While the MBF has not reached its goal as of August 31st, our volunteers and contributors have much to celebrate. Total contributions have reached $111,000 thus far, a 10% increase in revenue over the previous year. Roughly 450 Mecklenburg County Bar (MCB) members have contributed to the campaign, a 69% increase in donors over the previous year. Much of our success can be attributed to the support of nearly 40 volunteers who partnered with MBF staff and Board of Directors to inform and solicit their respective firms and legal departments. The 2009 participating firms and legal departments include: Alston & Bird Bank of America Baucom, Claytor, Benton, Morgan and Wood Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft Cranfill Sumner and Hartzog Essex Richards Ferguson, Stein, Chambers, Gresham & Sumter Hamilton Moon Stephens Steele & Martin – 100% attorney participation! Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo Horack Talley Hunton & Williams

October 2009

James, McElroy & Diehl Johnston, Allison & Hord – 100% attorney participation! Katten Muchin Rosenman Kilpatrick Stockton K & L Gates Mayer Brown McGuireWoods Mcangus, Goudelock & Courie Mecklenburg County Attorney's Office Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office Mecklenburg County Public Defender's Office Moore & Van Allen Nexsen Pruet Adams Kleemeier Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein Poyner & Spruill Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson Sellers, Hinshaw, Ayers, Dortch & Lyons Summa, Additon & Ashe Wachovia/Wells Fargo Winston & Strawn Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice As the Chair of the 2009 Campaign, it was my honor to support the MBF in its efforts to assist local organizations and programs that improve access to justice, education and legal development, and increase public awareness of jurisprudence. As members of the MCB, we must continue to do our part to assist legal related organizations and programs providing services to our community’s at risk populations, including our fellow attorneys who have been impacted by the recent recession. I want to thank the 450 MCB members who have already made a gift or pledge to the 2009 Patrons Fund Campaign. Nancy Roberson, Executive Director of the MCB and MBF, and her staff deserve special thanks for all of their efforts to make this campaign a success. Furthermore, I would like to thank Stephen Belenky, Director of Business and Foundation Development for his professionalism and high energy levels throughout the campaign. Stephen will help us take the MBF to

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levels we only dreamed of in the past. Lastly, I want to thank Douglas M. Jarrell, attorney at Robinson, Bradshaw and Hinson for his commitment to chair the 2010 Campaign. With the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, no one is better equipped to undertake this position than Doug. Please help Doug build on this year’s success by responding quickly and generously when he comes calling next year. If you have not made a contribution to the 2009 Campaign, we still need your help! To make a pledge or gift online, visit www.meckbar.org/patronsfund. If you intend to be billed, the Foundation is happy to create a billing cycle specific to your needs. You can also mail a check to the MBF Patrons Fund, Mecklenburg Bar Foundation, 438 Queens Rd., Charlotte, NC 28207. All gifts and pledge-payments must be made by December 31st, 2009. Contribute now and allow the Bar and Foundation to inspire others by recognizing your contribution in our ongoing programs and publications.

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5


Young Lawyers Help Young Readers: The YLS Continues its Tradition in Service BY AMY B. FOXHALL, YLS CHAIR The Mecklenburg County Bar (MCB) defines a young lawyer as an attorney thirty-six years of age or under, or in his or her first three years of practice. But being a member of the Young Lawyers Section (YLS) of the MCB is more than just an age or a certain number of years of practice. Being a member of YLS means providing service to the legal profession and to the community. Each year the YLS organizes service drives, pro bono legal events, and a host of other community activities designed to harness the talent and charity of its members for the betterment of Mecklenburg County. Last year, these activities included: delivering Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to the needy, gathering clothing for Crisis Assistance Ministries, providing free legal advice to the public,

and teaching middle and high school students about the legal profession. Continuing in our best traditions, the YLS is collecting new or gently used books for Read to Me, Charlotte!, a community-wide initiative coordinated by the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. The goal of the program is to provide encouragement, tools, and knowledge to promote daily reading with children from birth to age five. Read to Me, Charlotte! maintains community bookshelves full of free children’s books at Mecklenburg County social service agencies, hospitals, and laundromats. The YLS asks that you please bring any new or gently used books that you would like to donate to one of the three drop off sites: The Mecklenburg County Bar Center 428 Queens Road Charlotte, NC 28207

Dozier, Miller, Pollard & Murphy, LLP Suite 700, Cameron Brown Building 301 S. McDowell Street Charlotte, NC 28204 Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP 2907 Providence Road Suite 200 Charlotte, NC 28211 We thank you for your support of the YLS and its efforts to continuously strengthen the ties between the MCB and our community. If you would like to learn more about the YLS or are interested becoming more involved in the YLS by joining one of the YLS committees, please contact the YLS Chair Amy Foxhall at afoxhall@dmpm.com or the MCB staff liaison Amy Young at ayoung@meckbar.org.

Mecklenburg County Bar Community Schools Project Teachers enjoy an appreciation luncheon at Ashley Park Elementary School thanks to the generous contributions from Hamilton Moon Stephens Steele & Martin, PLLC and Mitchell & Culp, PLLC. Interested in sponsoring a similar event? Contact Amy Young at ayoung@meckbar.org.

Celebrate the Season! We’re planning a holiday party Please say you will be here Let’s celebrate the season With good friends and good cheer! When: Thursday, December 10, 2009 Where: Byron’s South End Time: 7:00–10:00 p.m. Cost: $20/guest (includes two drink tickets and heavy appetizers) Visit www.meckbar.org to register. Deadline to register is December 3, 2009. For more information, please contact Leah Reed at lreed@meckbar.org.

Join the Lawyer Referral Service The LRS Office receives more than 30 client calls each day. Take advantage of our client screening and referral service, become an LRS panel member. Annual membership is only $150.00. We are currently receiving more calls from clients requesting attorneys in the following areas: Consumer/Debt, Labor, Bankruptcy, Residential and Commercial Real Estate and Civil Rights. If you practice in these areas, please consider joining today! Contact Mary Jordan Mullinax at mjmullinax@meckbar.org or 704/375-8624 ext. 115 to receive an application.

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www.meckbar.org

October 2009


Law & Society Luncheon

Excitement Building For 20th Annual Event BY PETE ANDERSON & CARL HORN, LAW & SOCIETY COMMITTEE CO-CHAIRS Planning for the 20th annual Law & Society Luncheon is in full swing, with this year’s event scheduled for Thursday, November 19, at the uptown Hilton Hotel. There is a great deal of excitement surrounding this year’s speakers: Jennifer ThompsonCannino and Ronald Cotton, co-authors of the bestselling book, Picking Cotton. Those who have seen or heard our speakers on The Today Show, 60 Minutes, NPR’s Diane Rehm Show, or other media will attest to the power of their timely message. The story behind Picking Cotton is a moving and dramatic one, beginning with the violent 1984 rape of a 22 – year – old college student, Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, who was convinced that the man she picked out of a police lineup, Ronald Cotton, was her assailant. Tried, convicted, and sentenced to life imprisonment, Cotton served 11 years in North Carolina’s Central Prison in Raleigh – until DNA testing proved that he was innocent of the crime of which he stood convicted. But more than just another example of the potential unreliability of eyewitness testimony, or the conviction of an innocent man, this is a moving personal story of apology and forgiveness. Twelve years after discovering the error that had sent an innocent man to prison, Ms. ThompsonCannino and Mr. Cotton co-authored a book which made it to the New York Times Bestseller List in less than a month. Publisher’s Weekly described the book as “riveting,” Studs Terkel as “remarkable… powerful… a MUST read.” Helen Prejean, the author of Dead Man Walking, writes that Picking Cotton “will break

your heart and lift it up again,” and Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project hails the message as “compelling and profound.” Your Co-Chairs are grateful to those who have generously agreed to serve on this year’s Law & Society Committee: Allain C. Andry, IV of Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson; John H. Beyer of Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein; Joey H. Foxhall of Alston & Bird; Molly L. McIntosh of K&L Gates; Daniel A. Merlin of Johnston, Allison & Hord; Valerie B. Mullican of Winston & Strawn; Kenneth B. Oettinger, Jr. of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice; Fred P. Parker, IV of James McElroy & Diehl; George

W. Sistrunk, III of Hamilton Moon Stephens Steele & Martin; Catherine E. Thompson of McGuireWoods; and Henry B. Ward, III of Moore & Van Allen. If desired, you may receive one hour of Continuing Legal Education / Ethics credit for attending what is sure to a riveting and memorable Law & Society Luncheon. To reserve one or more tables (each seating 10), please call or e-mail Leah Reed at the Mecklenburg County Bar 704/375-8624 or lreed@meckbar.org. A form for reservations of less than ten is available on the MCB Web site, www.meckbar.org.

2009 MCB MBF Law & Society Luncheon Registration If entire table (seating 10) desired, please do not use this form, instead please call Leah Reed at 704/375-8624 for more information. Name___________________________________________________________________________________ Company name __________________________________________________________________________ Address_________________________________________________________________________________ E-mail __________________________________________________________________________________ Phone _____________________________________Fax__________________________________________

 Lunch Only $35.00

 Lunch and CLE Credit $75.00

I am enclosing a check payable to Mecklenburg County Bar TOTALING_______________ Please mail your registration form and check by 11/12/09 to Law & Society Luncheon, 438 Queens Road, Charlotte, North Carolina 28207

Join Your Fellow Bar Members at the MCB Luncheon Series Your Bar invites you to join your colleagues at a regular monthly lunch meeting to eat, socialize, and hear some brief remarks from a speaker. These luncheons will take place on the second Thursday of every month at First Presbyterian Church (200 W. Trade Street) from 12:15–1:15 p.m. The cost is $10 per person ($11 if registering online). The MCB Luncheon Series Committee is pleased to announce that Edward P. O’Keefe will be the speaker for the November luncheon. O’Keefe was named general counsel at Bank of America Corporation in August 2009. He has previously held several roles at Bank of America including deputy general counsel and head of litigation, global compliance and operational risk executive, senior privacy executive and deputy general counsel for staff support. We hope that you will join us for this exciting event The Bar Luncheon Series Committee welcomes your suggestions for speakers and programs to offer in the future. For suggestions and/or more information about the luncheons, please contact Co-Chair Sally Higgins at sally@thehigginslawfirm.com, Co-Chair Doug Jarrell at djarrell@rbh.com, or Events Coordinator Leah Reed at lreed@meckbar.org. Speakers will be announced at www.meckbar.org and your weekly Bar Blasts.

MCB November Luncheon Registration Each luncheon is $10 per attorney

Name___________________________________________________________________________________ Firm name_______________________________________________________________________________ E-mail __________________________________________________________________________________ Phone _____________________________________Fax__________________________________________

I am enclosing a check payable to Mecklenburg County Bar TOTALING_______________ For the 11/12/09 luncheon, please mail your registration form and check before 11/6/09 to MCB Luncheon Series, 438 Queens Road, Charlotte, North Carolina 28207

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October 2009

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MECKLENBURG COUNTY BAR 438 Queens Road Charlotte, NC 28207 ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED

In This Issue

PRSRT STD PAID

U.S. POSTAGE CHARLOTTE, NC PERMIT NO. 3337

Golf Tournament Recap........................................ 4 MCB Volunteer Spotlight..................................... 5 MBF Patrons Fund................................................. 5 Young Lawyers Section.......................................... 6 MCB Holiday Party............................................... 6 Lawyer Referral Service......................................... 6 Law & Society Luncheon ..................................... 7 MCB Luncheon Series .......................................... 7

DATED MATERIAL

Lunch with a Lawyer..................................... Cover President’s Letter-The Future is Now ................... 1 Local Judges Go the Extra Mile............................ 1 Continuing Legal Education................................. 2 Ayscue Nominations Sought ................................ 2 Mecklenburg County Teen Court ........................ 3 ABA Annual Meeting .......................................... 3 Softball League Recap ........................................... 4

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Volume 36 No. 4

October 2009

www.meckbar.org

Throughout the 2009 – 10 school year, our attorney mentors will lunch with their mentees once a month at their designated school. The program encourages mentoring attorneys to serve as positive role models while the students are provided with a window into the legal profession. Lunch with a Lawyer culminates at the end of the school year with students “shadowing” their mentor for a day, touring the county courthouse, and participating in a mock trial. To better augment the diversity pipeline of our current legal community, the MCB Special Committee on Diversity implemented the Lunch with a Lawyer program to encourage and equip young minority students to pursue legal careers. The MCB diversity pipeline is established to support attorneys in every stage of their career. Other pipeline programs engage high school and undergraduate students in our annual Diversity Day program, law students in our Charlotte Legal Diversity Clerkship, and licensed practitioners through our MCB Diversity Initiative of Managing Partners and General Counsels. The MCB’s Lunch with a Lawyer program has received positive feedback from past lawyer and student participants, many of whom have formed relationships that will endure for years to come. If you are interested in making a difference in the life of a young person, please give some thought to volunteering for next year’s Lunch with a Lawyer program. For more information, please contact Stephanie Marella at smarella@meckbar.org.

Right: Judge Albert Diaz talks with a student at the kickoff lunch.

Left: A. Todd Brown serves as an attorney mentor.

Lunch with a Lawyer

BY JUDGE ALBERT DIAZ

On August 10, 2009, the Mecklenburg County Bar (MCB) Special Committee on Diversity kicked off its fourth annual “Lunch with a Lawyer” program. This collaborative effort between Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) and the MCB exposes rising eighth graders to the legal profession by pairing them with mentoring attorneys. Since the program’s inception, 274 students and their attorney mentors have participated in the program. Selected students, who are recommended by their principals, are considering a future legal career and exhibit outstanding scholastic achievement. More than 150 students, parents, mentors, and school administrators attended this year’s luncheon at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. MCB President Pat Kelly gave welcoming remarks, as did CMS Associate Superintendent Ann Clark, and CMS Director of Global Studies and World Languages Kelly Price. Guest speaker André Walters, Senior Director of Legal Affairs for Bobcats Sports & Entertainment, delivered an inspirational speech to the students. Walters, an avid sports enthusiast, discussed how he landed his ideal job through persistence, hard work, and seizing opportunity at the ideal moment. He encouraged the students to establish valuable relationships with their mentors and work hard to maintain academic excellence.

October 2009


The Mecklenburg Bar News - 10/09  

October 2009

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