May, 2020 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’ Compensation
Grimes Teich Anderson LLP
D: (828) 575-1344P: (828) 251-0800F: (828) 236-9200
535 College St.
Asheville, NC 28801