Update From State Bar Councilor Anna Hamrick

Dear Members of the Buncombe County Bar –

I hope everyone is well and enjoying Spring!

The NCSB Council recently held its second quarterly meeting of the year.  You will get a more detailed report from the Bar, but in the meantime here are some brief updates:

*As of 1/1/19 each member must do 1 hour of technology CLE per year as part of the 12 required hours.

*Regarding the option to take all 12 hours of CLE online, we are moving forward on that, but not quite there yet.  The rule amendments necessary to remove the 6.0 hour cap on on-line CLE were published for comment following the January meeting and approved by the Council at the April meeting.  They will be sent to the Supreme Court for approval following the July Council meeting (the Bar sends proposed rule amendments to the Supreme Court every other quarter).  If approved by the Court, they will go into effect for the 2020 CLE compliance year.

*Proposed amendments to the Rules Governing the Practical Training of Law Students will be published for comment.  The proposed rule amendments will enable more experiential educational opportunities for law students.

*A proposed rule amendment will be published that will eliminate the requirement that all attendees of the Professionalism for New Admittees must complete a course evaluation form.

*The Committee to Review Amendments to the ABA Model Rules on Advertising continues to study the changes and is working on a proposal to change the State Bar’s advertising rules.

*The Special Committee on Proactive  Management-Base Regulation continues to study the Colorado voluntary PMBR and the Illinois mandatory PMBR to determine whether a similar program would be beneficial in North Carolina.

*The Ethics Committee is publishing proposed 2018 FEO 5 on “friending” opposing parties and witnesses on social media.  The proposed opinion takes a 180 degree turn and holds that a lawyer may not friend someone who is represented by counsel without consent of the opposing lawyer.

*The Council approved and adopted 2019 FEO 1 – lawyer cannot  jointly represent clients and prepare separation agreement.

*The Council approved and adopted  2019 FEO 3 regarding intimate relationships with opposing counsel.

In my ongoing effort to increase transparency about the Bar, I would like to tell you here about the Board of Continuing Legal Education.  The rules and regulations for the administration of the CLE Board are found at 27 NCAC 1D, Sections .1500 and .1600.  The rules apply to each active member licensed by the North Carolina State Bar (unless you are covered by a specific exemption).  The following is (mostly) verbatim from the Administrative Code:

The Council of the North Carolina State Bar established the Board of Continuing Legal Education as a standing committee of the council.  The Board has authority to establish regulations governing a continuing legal education program and a law practice assistance program for attorneys licensed to practice law in this state.

 The Board of Continuing Legal Education has nine members, all of whom must be attorneys in good standing and authorized to practice in the state of North Carolina.

Board members are appointed at quarterly State Bar Council meetings.  The term of office is three years.  The chairperson presides at the board meetings and prepares and presents the annual report of the board to the State Bar Council. 

 The purpose of the continuing legal education rules is to assist lawyers licensed to practice and practicing law in North Carolina in achieving and maintaining professional competence for the benefit of the public whom they serve. The North Carolina State Bar, under Chapter 84 of the General Statutes of North Carolina, is charged with the responsibility of providing rules of professional conduct and with disciplining attorneys who do not comply with such rules. The Revised Rules of Professional Conduct adopted by the North Carolina State Bar and approved by the Supreme Court of North Carolina require that lawyers adhere to important ethical standards, including that of rendering competent legal services in the representation of their clients.

 At a time when all aspects of life and society are changing rapidly or becoming subject to pressures brought about by change, laws and legal principles are also in transition (through additions to the body of law, modifications and amendments) and are increasing in complexity. One cannot render competent legal services without continuous education and training.

 The same changes and complexities, as well as the economic orientation of society, result in confusion about the ethical requirements concerning the practice of law and the relationships it creates. The data accumulated in the discipline program of the North Carolina State Bar argue persuasively for the establishment of a formal program for continuing and intensive training in professional responsibility and legal ethics.

 It has also become clear that in order to render legal services in a professionally responsible manner, a lawyer must be able to manage his or her law practice competently. Sound management practices enable lawyers to concentrate on their clients’ affairs while avoiding the ethical problems which can be caused by disorganization.

 It is in response to such considerations that the North Carolina State Bar has adopted these minimum continuing legal education requirements. The purpose of these minimum continuing legal education requirements is the same as the purpose of the Revised Rules of Professional Conduct themselves—to ensure that the public at large is served by lawyers who are competent and maintain high ethical standards.

So, the NCSB Council created the Board of CLE, and appoints its members.  The Board is a standing committee of the NCSB Council.  It shares the general purpose of the NCSB to protect the public and regulate the profession.  I hope this small presentation has been of some use to you.

Lastly, I would like to let you know how much I appreciate your reelection of me to represent you in this office.  I hope to be of use to our Bar, and welcome any ideas you may have how I can improve .  I just acted as Vice-Chair of my first Grievance subcommittee meeting at the April meeting.  I pulled out a copy of my grandmother’s Roberts Rules of Order which she used to run her DAR and various other meetings in the 1940s and 50s.  It was extremely helpful.  Like the Rules of Civil Procedure, but with more discretion.

Please let me know if there is any way I can be of help to you in State Bar related matters, or if you have any questions, concerns, or criticisms.  My cell is (828) 707-4249, and my email is Hamrick@gtalaw.net.

Sincerely, Anna R. Hamrick