North Carolina State Bar, Synopsis of Council Action

Download a synopsis of the most recent quarterly meeting here

MCB North Carolina State Bar Councilors
David Neal Allen
Robert C. "Bobby" Bowers
A. Todd Brown Sr.
Mark P. Henriques
DeWitt "Mac" McCarley
Nancy Black Norelli
Eben T. Rawls


Judicial District 26 Councilor's Report

This January, we had the honor of representing this judicial district at the State Bar Council's quarterly meeting. This newsletter contains brief articles on some of the significant matters that were addressed at the meeting and other important State Bar news.  We urge you to read the synopsis of the quarterly meeting and to spend a minute reviewing the additional material.  We hope you find it informative.

Robert J. Bernhardt, A. Todd Brown, Mark P. Henriques, F. Fincher Jarrell, DeWitt (Mac) McCarley, Mark W. Merritt, Nancy Black Norelli

State Bar Council Reinstates Disbarred Lawyer

By a vote of 37-14, the State Bar Council voted to reinstate a disbarred lawyer for the first time since 1999.  For a detailed explanation on disciplinary matters in front of the full State Bar Council, please read the following article by State Bar Executive Director, Tom Lunsford, published in this quarter's Bar Journal.    Journal Article

Annual Membership Dues and Client Security Fund Assessment

Approximately 8,000 lawyers have not paid their 2013 membership fees. In October, the Council decided that the amount of the annual membership fee (dues) for 2013 should remain at the current level, $300.  Additionally, the Council decided to recommend to the Supreme Court that the amount of the annual assessment in support of the Client Security Fund remain at $25. To pay your 2013 dues online, please access your membership page via the following link.

CLE Annual Report Forms

The 2012 Annual Report forms were due by February 28, 2013, to avoid the $75 late-filing fee. If you did not receive a copy of your Annual Report, or need another copy, log on to your online CLE page via the following link. CLE Member Log in Page

2012 State Bar Demographic Survery

The State Bar requests your participation in a newly revised demographic survey.  This voluntary survey will provide useful statistical information about the demographic composition of the State Bar's membership and will help the Bar understand the extent to which the State Bar and State Bar Council is representative of the general population of North Carolina.  We request your participation even if you completed a survey last year, as we have revised the survey to obtain more accurate results. As an added incentive, once you complete the survey you will be granted immediate access to the current results. This survey will only record the totals of each demographic category. No personal records will be kept of individual information.  Please take a minute to complete this four-question demographic survey by logging in to your State Bar account via the following link. State Bar Member Log In

Construction of the State Bars New Headquarters

The State Bar will be moving into a new building in late March.  There will be meeting rooms and other facilities available for use by North Carolina lawyers at no cost. More information regarding the use of the State Bar facilities will be provided in the coming months. Access pictures of the construction of the new building via the following link.  State Bar Building Construction

New Ethics Opinions Adopted  

Upon the recommendation of the Ethics Committee, the Council adopted seven ethics opinions: 2012 FEO 2, which rules that a lawyer-mediator may not draft a business contract for pro se parties to mediation; 2012 FEO 4, which rules that a lawyer who represented an organization while employed with another firm must be screened from participation in any substantially related matter, and from representing any party adverse to the organization and from any matter against the organization if she acquired confidential information that is relevant and which has not become generally known; 2012 FEO 9, which rules that a lawyer asked to represent a child in a contested custody or visitation case should decline the appointment unless the order of appointment identifies the lawyer's role and specifies the responsibilities of the lawyer; 2012 FEO 10, which rules that a lawyer may not participate as a network lawyer for a company providing litigation or administrative support services for clients with particular legal/business problems unless certain conditions are satisfied; 2012 FEO 12, which rules that an agreement for a departing lawyer to pay his former firm a percentage of any legal fee arising from the continued representation of a contingent fee client by the departing lawyer does not violate Rule 5.6 if the agreement was negotiated by the departing lawyer and the firm after the departing lawyer announced his departure from the firm and the specific percentage is a reasonable resolution of a dispute over the division of future fees; 2012 FEO 14, which rules that the advertising content displayed on certain gift or promotional items does not have to include an office address; and 2012 FEO 15, which rules that whether a lawyer is a necessary witness and thereby disqualified from acting as a client's advocate at a trial is an issue left up to the discretion of the tribunal. Recently Adopted Ethics Opinions

Proposed Ethics Opinions

The Ethics Committee decided to publish for comment three new proposed opinions, addressing the following topics: dismissals of convictions conditioned upon release of civil claims against the prosecutor, law enforcement, or other public officials (Proposed 2013 FEO 1); lawyers providing discovery materials to defendants per Rule 1.4 (Proposed 2013 FEO 2); and a lawyer's responsibilities when charging and collecting for the expenses of representation (Proposed 2013 FEO 3).

One opinion was revised and republished for comment: Proposed 2012 FEO 7, which rules that Rule 4.2 requires a lawyer to have the express consent of a represented person's lawyer prior to sending the represented person a copy of an email communication.

The Ethics Committee agreed that subcommittees should continue to study Proposed 2011 FEO 11, Communication with Represented Party by Lawyer Who is the Opposing Party, and Proposed 2012 FEO 11, Use of a Nonlawyer Field Representative to Obtain  Representation Contracts. Access the following link for the full titles and texts of these proposed opinions.    Proposed Ethics Opinions

Grievance Committee Report

During the quarter the Grievance Committee considered 384 cases.  Four lawyers received letters of caution, twelve lawyers received letters of warning, ten lawyers received admonitions, seven lawyers received reprimands, two lawyers received censures, two lawyers were referred to the Lawyer Assistance Program, one lawyer was referred to the Trust Account Compliance Program, and eleven lawyers were referred to the Disciplinary Hearing Commission. Access the following link for disciplinary actions, hearings, schedules and information regarding preliminary injunctions.  

State Bar Discipline Page

Trust Account Audits

Judicial districts randomly selected for audit during the first quarter of 2013 were District 17A, consisting of Rockingham County, and District 21, consisting of Forsyth County. Access the State Bar Auditor's fourth quarter report via the following link. 4th Quarter Random Audit Report

Rule Amendments

At its meeting on January 25, 2013, the Council adopted, subject to the Supreme Court's approval, amendments to the rules relating to specialization and disability. These amendments will be submitted to the Court for approval.  Further, the Council voted to publish proposed amendments for public comment. The amendments relate to specialization, paralegals, councilor elections, and administrative suspensions. Access these adopted and proposed rule amendments via the following link.  Adopted and Proposed Rule Amendments

Lawyer Assistance Program Report

The NC Lawyer Assistance Program recently held its 3rd Annual Minority Outreach Conference in Chapel Hill.   The theme of the conference was: "Examining the role of race in legal practice, with an exploration of normal, human responses to the anxiety and stress inherent in the practice of law today."  Chief Justice Henry Frye gave the keynote address and Bar leaders from around the state, including Ron Gibson, Judge Wanda Bryant, Victor Boone, Rob Harrington, and Fred Williams spoke on issues related to mental health and the practice of law.  Two-hundred and fifty lawyers attended and there was a long waitlist.  Feedback indicates that the conference was well-timed as these topics are of a growing concern for most lawyers.  The LAP provides free, confidential assistance to lawyers and judges to help them identify and address issues that may impair their ability to practice law effectively.  For more information about the LAP, visit the LAP website.

Upcoming Meeting Schedule

The State Bar Council will be holding its next meeting April 16-19, 2013 in Raleigh, NC. Access the annual meeting schedule via the following link.  Council Meeting Schedule

Become a Mentor or Mentee

The NCBA administers the Mentorship Program. The goals of the program are to allow experienced practitioners to provide assistance to mentees, guide mentees in traversing the realities of practicing law, and communicate the importance of being a citizen lawyer. To find out more about the program or sign up to participate, visit the NCBA website.

Seeking Distinguished Service Award Nominations

The John B. McMillan Distinguished Service Award program honors current and retired members of the North Carolina State Bar throughout the state who have demonstrated exemplary service to the legal profession. Members of the Bar are encouraged to nominate colleagues who have demonstrated outstanding service to the profession. The nomination form is available here. Please direct questions to Peter Bolac at the State Bar office in Raleigh, (919) 828-4620.  A list of past recipients is available on the State Bar website, via the following link. Distinguished Service Award Recipients