Summer Law Clerk Program

We are proud to announce the Buncombe Bar’s 2020 Summer Law Clerk program. If your firm has interns, we would love to extend an invitation to the program’s virtual events. This program is facilitated by Pisgah Legal Services. Plans are underway for a virtual happy hour on Thursday afternoon, several Judge’s lunch & learns, a virtual tour of the Buncombe County Courthouse, Veterans Treatment Court, and a few other events. Please contact Beth Hermann at beth@pisgahlegal.org for more information.

Update from State Bar Councilor Anna Hamrick

Dear Buncombe County Bar –

I hope you are well and adjusting to this new normal, whatever that may eventually be.

I wanted to give you an update on the NCSB.  You will get a more formal email directly from the Bar in the near future.

  1. We recently held our April Quarterly Meeting.  The big news here is that we held the meeting remotely via videoconferencing, and the Bar was able to take care of all pending business that would have a direct impact on lawyers or the public.  Most notably, we were able to handle administrative adjustments to membership status and resolve pending grievances (through the Grievance Committee stage of proceedings).

In addition, 2 new appointments to the DHC were made, Irv Joyner of Durham and Brian Beverly of Raleigh.  They will be wonderful additions to the DHC.

In response to the financial hardship currently being experienced by some lawyers, the Council approved for publication proposed rule amendments that delay the imposition of the $30.00 late fee for delinquent payment of membership fees from July 1 to September 1, 2020, for the 2020 calendar year only.  The Council also decided to postpone collection activities  (i.e., issuing notices to show cause) for the 2020 dues from August until late October 2020.  Also in response to the impediments to service of process arising from the COVID-19 restrictions, the Council approved for publication a proposed rule amendment that eliminates the requirement that letters of warning, admonitions, reprimands, and censures issued by the Grievance Committee be served by certified mail or personal service when valid service on the respondent was previously accomplished by certified mail, personal service, publication, or acceptance of service.

  1. July Quarterly Meeting:  The July meeting is currently scheduled to be an in-person meeting at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Asheville from July 21-24, 2020.  However, whether the meeting will be held in Asheville or be switched to a “virtual” meeting by videoconferencing is still under discussion.   Although the meeting is scheduled to occur after the completion of Phase 3 of the Governor’s staged reopening of the state, there are many unknowns that may impact the feasibility of meeting in Asheville.  Of particular concern is whether there will be ongoing restrictions on the size of gatherings and social distancing guidelines that will make in-person meetings difficult if not impossible to pull off.  A decision on whether to hold the meeting in Asheville must be made by May 28 to allow sufficient time to notify the hotel of room requirements if the meeting is going forward.

Unfortunately, because of the uncertainty relative to social distancing guidelines and public gathering restrictions, it is highly unlikely that there will be any opportunities for members of the Buncombe Bar to observe or participate in the committee meetings or the social events associated with the July Quarterly Meeting.  I am disappointed to report this, as the Bar met here a few summers ago and it was a great chance for local members to attend meetings.  I will keep everyone posted if this changes.

  1. Judicial District Bar Meeting and State Bar Presentation:   As you may recall, we had scheduled a 40th Judicial District Bar meeting and State Bar presentation for March 20 which was postponed because of the Governor’s executive orders limiting the size of public gatherings.  We tentatively rescheduled the meeting for May 22, but it is now clear that social distancing and gathering restrictions will make it impossible to hold the district bar meeting on that date.  Nevertheless, the State Bar has not forgotten the plan to hold a district bar meeting and State Bar presentation for the 40th JD Bar.  The meeting will be rescheduled in the fall when, hopefully, there will be less uncertainty about public meetings.
  2. I would like to encourage members to consider making a nomination for The John B. McMillan Distinguished Service Award.  This is an award given by the State Bar to honor current and retired members of the North Carolina State Bar 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 online at the NCSB website. Please direct questions to Suzanne Lever at the State Bar office in Raleigh, (919) 828-4620.  You can also see a list of past DSA recipients online at the NCSB website.

To help with guidance on nominations, award criteria includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. Cultivating knowledge of the law beyond its use for clients, employing that knowledge in reform of the law, and working to strengthen legal education.
  2. Furthering the public’s understanding of and confidence in the rule of law and the justice system.
  3. Devoting professional time and resources and providing civic leadership to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all those who, because of economic or social barriers, cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel.
  4. Aiding the legal profession by helping the bar regulate itself in the public interest and by seeking to improve the administration of justice and the quality of services rendered by the legal profession.
  5. Providing professional services at no fee or a reduced fee to persons of limited means or to public service or charitable groups or organizations, by service in activities for improving the law, society, the legal system or the legal profession, and providing financial support for organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means.
  6. Treating opposing counsel with courtesy and respect; encouraging and counseling peers by providing advice and mentoring; and fostering civility among members of the bar.
  7. Promoting diversity and diverse participation within the legal profession.

The nomination form is available online at the NC SB website. You may submit your nomination via mail, fax, or email to the following address:

Suzanne Lever, Staff Liaison to Distinguished Service Committee
The North Carolina State Bar
PO Box 25908
Raleigh, NC 27611
919.828.4620 ext. 261
919.719.9334 (Fax)
slever@ncbar.gov

Thank you all for all you do for our profession and community!  Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.  Take care, Anna

Anna R. Hamrick
Attorney

NC Board Certified Specialist – Workers’ CompensationGRIMES TEICH ANDERSON LLP
D: (828) 575-1344P: (828) 251-0800F: (828) 236-9200
535 College St.
Asheville, NC 28801

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www.GTAlaw.net

One Buncombe Bar Program

The Buncombe Bar has a long history of collegiality, civility, and compassion among members. Given the current pandemic and financial downturn, the Bar administration proposes to serve as a conduit between those Bar members who may need assistance and those who are able to help. Click here for more information about this program.

Volunteers Needed for WNC COVID Legal Hotline on May 21

The Buncombe County Bar, Pisgah Legal Services, Legal Aid of NC, and the North Carolina Bar Foundation are partnering to host the first WNC COVID Legal Hotline on Thursday, May 21st from 8am to 2pm. This will be a legal hotline somewhat like the annual “Call 4 All” event hosted by the NCBA. Anyone in WNC can call in and speak with an attorney volunteer about their legal questions related to COVID. We will not screen for income but we are highlighting basic needs issues in our event publicity. We will use an app called Telzio that all volunteers will put on their phones and then calls can easily be sent to the appropriate volunteer.

We need volunteer “call operators” and volunteer attorneys to do 2-hour shifts during the event. Call operators will be the first point of contact on the calls and ask for the individual’s name, county and legal matter, in order to forward the caller to the appropriate attorney. We will have groupings of attorneys available to assist with various legal matters – e.g., housing, consumer, family, etc. If you volunteer as an attorney for this event you can designate which legal practice area you want handle on calls.

Please sign up for a shift at the links below. Contact John Noor at jnoor@roberts-stevens.com or Katie Russell Miller at katierm@pisgahlegal.org with questions.

Sign Up Here for a Call Operator Shift

Sign Up Here for a Hotline Attorney Shift

New Ethics Resources From NC State Bar

From the State Bar:

In response to inquiries about ethics and various practice implications of the current public health crisis.   today we published two ethics resources on the State Bar’s website.

1. An ethics advisory addressing a) whether the Rules of Professional Conduct permit a lawyer to notarize a document or direct a notarization of a document via remote conference, and b) whether the Rules of Professional Conduct permit a lawyer to disburse funds in connection with a real property closing prior to recordation of the closing documents, including the deed and deed(s) of trust.  This advisory opinion was originally issued on March 27, 2020 to a number of individuals who had contacted the State Bar about these topics, but we feel it would be helpful to make the opinion available to all lawyers at this time.

You may access the ethics advisory here: https://www.ncbar.gov/news-publications/news-notices/2020/04/covid-19-and-related-practice-concerns-for-real-property-closings-and-notarization-of-documents/

2. An ethics article addressing a number of issues related to practice during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on working remotely.  Of note, the article discusses ethical considerations in using online services, including video conferencing.

You may access the ethics article here:  https://www.ncbar.gov/news-publications/news-notices/2020/04/professional-responsibility-in-a-pandemic/

In the meantime, the Ethics staff is continuing to answer inquiries remotely.  If you know of someone in need of ethics advice, don’t hesitate to suggest they email us at ethicsadvice@ncbar.gov.