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Jim Blackburn on Ethics, Professionalism and Mental Health

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Date Published

February 18, 2011


Mecklenburg County Bar


Ethics, Mental Health & Wellness, Substance Abuse


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Jim Blackburn, former NC Special Deputy Attorney General, First Assistant United States Attorney for Eastern NC, United States Attorney May 1980 to Sept 1981. Blackburn served as lead prosecutor in the trial of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, who was accused of murdering his pregnant wife and two daughters. Blackburn was disbarred in 1993 for violating ethics rules, and continues to share his story and teaching CLE.

I Was From Venus & My Attorneys Were From Mars (Ethics)
An Ethics and Professionalism program for lawyers and paralegals based upon Blackburn’s experience as a client. The difference between a good and a great lawyer is one who can make a client’s situation, no matter how difficult or desperate, better at the end than at the beginning. Working from the principle of “since no one has died, it can all be fixed”, my lawyers of Wade Smith and Rick Gammon started on what turned out to be a year long project in saving myself, in many ways from myself. We started at opposite ends of the legal spectrum. I had been a lawyer and one of their friends and peers. In a moment, it was no more and learning to trust them, not as associates but as my attorneys, took a leap of faith that faltered at times but, in the end, was essential.

Gaining my trust and confidence so that I would take their advice, against all my wishes, is taking Venus and moving it much closer to Mars. How did they do that? Their advice and help, all those years ago, still remains a guiding star to terrific legal representation. I will tell you what I learned from these two great lawyers.

Night Falls Fast (Mental Health)
A one hour story of depression, mental illness and the ever lurking threat of suicide in everyday life and in the legal profession in particular. The issues of mental illness, depression and even suicide are topics few people enjoy discussing. Yet, they are all alive and happening to some of us every day. Blackburn is someone who became very ill, suffered major depression, was hospitalized for a short time, thought about suicide and ultimately rejected it. He tells you his story, and what he remembers from the darkest time in his life. By shining a bright light in a very personal and dark corner, he discusses the symptoms of depression that can be seen in the legal profession and suggests answers to this struggle. The views and opinions are not necessarily those of the 26th Judicial District Bar.

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Jim Blackburn

Jim Blackburn, former NC Special Deputy Attorney General, First Assistant United States Attorney for Eastern NC, United... Read More

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Program Titles and Supporting Materials

This program contains the following components:

Jim Blackburn on Ethics, Professionalism and Mental Health (NCSB# 35) - Video
Jim Blackburn on Ethics, Professionalism and Mental Health (NCSB# 35): Part 2 - Video
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If applicable, you may obtain credit in multiple jurisdictions simultaneously for this program (see pending/approved list below). If electing credit for this program, registrants in jurisdictions not listed below will receive a Certificate of Completion that may or may not meet credit requirements in other jurisdictions. Where applicable, credit will be only awarded to a paid registrant completing all the requirements of the program as determined by the selected accreditation authority.

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How to Attend

Join the self-paced program from your office, home, or hotel room using a computer and high speed internet connection. You may start and stop the program at your convenience, continue where you left off, and review supporting materials as often as you like. Please note: Internet Explorer is no longer a supported browser. We recommend using Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Safari for best results.

Technical Requirements
You may access this course on a computer or mobile device with high speed internet (iPhones require iOS 10 or higher). Recommended browsers are Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

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