Dear Members of Judicial District 40,
I was honored to represent this judicial district bar at the State Bar Council’s most recent quarterly meeting. The full synopsis of the quarterly meeting is below. The State Bar will also send out an email of its own.
I wanted to advise you the next quarterly meeting will take place here in Asheville at The Renaissance Hotel. The dates are July 18-21, 2023. Please know that most of the meetings are open to the public, and I encourage you to consider joining us. Once the schedule of meetings is published (usually the final version is the week before the meeting) I will send it out so you can see what is on tap in case anything interests you.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any concerns or questions about the State Bar Council or anything else of which I can be of assistance. Thank you.
Anna Hamrick, State Bar Councilor
NC Board Certified Specialist – Workers’ Compensation
Grimes Teich Anderson LLP
NORTH CAROLINA STATE BAR
SYNOPSIS OF COUNCIL ACTION
APRIL 2023 QUARTERLY MEETING
At its meeting on April 21, 2023, the Council made the following appointments:
Disciplinary Hearing Commission – The Council reappointed Brian O. Beverly, Irving L. Joyner and DeWitt “Mac” McCarley to three-year terms.
Grievance Resolution Board (formerly Inmate Grievance Resolution Board) – The Council voted to recommend to the Governor’s Office the reappointment of Robert E. Campbell.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR APPOINTMENTS SOUGHT
Anyone interested in being appointed to serve on boards, commissions, or committees to which the State Bar makes appointments should email the State Bar’s Executive Director, Alice Neece Mine, at email@example.com, or Lanice Heidbrink at firstname.lastname@example.org, and express that interest, being sure to attach a current resume. Please submit before July 7, 2023. The Council will make the following appointments at its July meeting:
Board of Legal Specialization (3-year terms) – There are three appointments to be made. Laura V. Hudson (public member) and Nancy Ray (non-specialist lawyer member) are not eligible for reappointment. Jan E. Pritchett is eligible to serve one more year in the capacity of chair.
Description – The Board of Legal Specialization is a 9-member board comprised of six lawyers (at least one of whom cannot be a board-certified specialist) and three public members. The board establishes policy relative to the execution of the specialization program’s mission and is responsible for oversight of the operation of the program subject to the statutes governing the practice of law, the authority of the Council, and the rules of the board. The specialization board meets four times a year.
The specialization program assists in the delivery of legal services to the public by identifying to the public those lawyers who have demonstrated special knowledge, skill, and proficiency in a specific field and seeks to improve the competency of members of the bar by establishing an additional incentive for lawyers to participate in continuing legal education and to meet the other requirements of specialization.
Commission on Indigent Defense Services (4-year terms) – There is one appointment to be made. Stacey Rubain is eligible for reappointment.
Description – The Commission on Indigent Defense Services establishes the policies governing the work of the Office of Indigent Defense Services (IDS). IDS oversees the legal representation for indigent defendants and others entitled to counsel in North Carolina. IDS trains, qualifies, and sets performance standards for attorneys, as well as determines the most appropriate and cost-effective methods for delivering legal defense services in each of the state’s judicial districts. The organization’s programmatic work includes efforts to increase communication and resource-sharing with the private bar; the development of legal training programs, often in partnership with the UNC School of Government; the establishment of a specialized Office of the Juvenile Defender; and the creation of performance guidelines for appointed counsel across several practice areas. IDS also works regularly with the Offices of the Capital Defender and Appellate Defender to recruit and evaluate attorneys for their respective rosters, ensure their appointments in a timely and equitable manner, and to support them with expert services.
The Commission on Indigent Defense Services consists of thirteen commissioners who are appointed by various officials and organizations including the Governor, the Chief Justice, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. The State Bar Council has one appointment to the commission. The commission meets on a quarterly basis, often virtually.
North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission (3-year terms) – There is one appointment to be made. Charlot F. Wood is not eligible for reappointment.
Description – The North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission is an 18-member body established by N.C. Gen. Stat. §7A-38.2. Appointments to the Commission are made by all branches of government. The President of the North Carolina State Bar makes two appointments.
The commission certifies and regulates private mediators who serve the courts of this State. The commission also recommends policy, rules, and rule revisions relating to dispute resolution in North Carolina’s courts; provides support to court-based mediation programs; certifies mediation training programs; serves as a clearinghouse for information about court-based mediation programs; and assists other state agencies interested in or providing dispute resolution services to their constituencies.
IOLTA Board of Trustees (3-year terms) – There are three appointments to be made. John S. Arrowood and John J. Keane (public member) are eligible for reappointment. Anita Brown-Graham is not eligible for reappointment.
Description – The IOLTA Board of Trustees is a 9-member board comprised of at least six North Carolina lawyers. The board establishes policy relative to the execution of IOLTA’s mission and is responsible for oversight of the operation of the program subject to the statutes governing the practice of law, the authority of the council, and the rules of the board.
The IOLTA Board usually meets three times per year (April, September, and December) with other meetings scheduled as needed.
NC IOLTA is a non-profit program created by the NC State Bar that works with lawyers and banks across the state to collect net interest income generated from lawyers’ general, pooled trust accounts for the purpose of funding grants to providers of civil legal services for the indigent and programs that further the administration of justice.
Lawyers selected for audit are randomly drawn from a list generated from the State Bar’s membership database based upon judicial district membership designations. The randomly selected judicial districts used to generate the lists for the second quarter of 2023 are District 15, composed of Bladen, Brunswick and Columbus counties, and District 33 composed of Davidson and Davie counties.
At its meeting on April 21, 2023, the State Bar Council adopted one ethics opinion: 2023 Formal Ethics Opinion 1, Sale or Closure of Law Practice and Proper Handling of Aged Client Files (opinion clarifies a lawyer’s professional responsibility when closing and/or selling a law practice and when handling aged client files). Additionally, the Council voted to publish a proposed amendment to Rule 1.8(e) of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct that would create a new exception to the general prohibition on providing financial assistance to a client in connection with pending or contemplating litigation. More information about the proposed amendment to Rule 1.8(e) appears in the “Proposed Amendments Published for Comment” section below.
Ethics Committee Actions
At its meeting on April 20, 2023, the Ethics Committee considered eight inquiries, including the opinion and proposed rule amendment noted above. Five inquiries were sent or returned to subcommittee for further study, including Proposed 2022 FEO 4, Billing Considerations for Overlapping Legal Services; Proposed 2023 FEO 2, Confidentiality Clause that Restricts a Lawyer’s Right to Practice; and an inquiry addressing a lawyer’s ability to obligate a client’s estate to pay the lawyer for any time spent defending the lawyer’s work in drafting and executing the client’s will. No new opinions were published for comment this quarter.
The Ethics Committee welcomes comments on the proposed formal ethics opinions. Comments may be submitted by email to email@example.com.
During the quarter, the Grievance Committee considered 164 files. The committee dismissed 109 files. One file was abated and seven files were dismissed and retained. One file was continued. Two lawyers were referred to the Trust Accounting Compliance Program, one lawyer was referred to the Lawyer Assistance Program, five lawyers received letters of caution, eight lawyers received letters of warning, three lawyers received admonitions, three lawyers received reprimands, and eight lawyers were referred to the Disciplinary Hearing Commission for trial.
Amendments Pending Approval by the Supreme Court
At its meeting on April 21, 2023, the Council of the North Carolina State Bar voted to adopt the following rule amendments for transmission to the North Carolina Supreme Court for its approval. (For the complete text of the rule amendments, see the Winter 2023 and Spring 2023 editions of the Journal or visit the State Bar website: www.ncbar.gov.)
Proposed Amendments to the Rules Governing the Continuing Legal Education Program 27 N.C.A.C.1D, Section .1500, Rules Governing the Administration of the Continuing Legal Education Program; Section .1600, Regulations Governing the Administration of the Continuing Legal Education Program
• Rules .1501 to .1527
• Rules .1601 to .1606
The Board of Continuing Legal Education proposed comprehensive revisions to the rules governing the CLE program with the objective of improving the State Bar’s regulation of mandatory CLE by reducing costs, complexity, and hassle for both the regulator and the regulated. The proposed rule amendments will change fundamental aspects of how the CLE requirements are enforced including the adoption of a two-year reporting and compliance cycle, the elimination of the annual report requirement, and the elimination of the credit hour attendee fee in favor of program application fees and an annual attendance fee assessment of active State Bar members. Rollover credit of up to 12 CLE hours has been retained. It is proposed that Section .1600 of the CLE rules be deleted entirely.
Proposed Amendments Published for Comment
Also at its April meeting, the Council voted to publish for comment the following proposed rule amendments:
Proposed Amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct
27 N.C.A.C.02, Section .0100, Client-Lawyer Relationship
• Rule 1.08 Conflict of Interest: Current Clients: Specific Rules
The proposed amendment allows a lawyer to provide modest gifts to the client for basic living expenses if the lawyer is representing an indigent client pro bono, a court-appointed client, an indigent client pro bono through non-profit legal services or public interest organization, or an indigent client pro bono through a law school clinic or pro bono program, subject to certain conditions.
Proposed Amendments to the Discipline and Disability Rules
27 N.C.A.C. 1B, Section .0100, Discipline and Disability of Attorneys
• Rule .0113, Proceedings Before the Grievance Committee
The proposed amendment is a technical correction that clarifies that the procedure for refusing a letter of warning is distinct from the requirements for service of process of a letter of warning.
Proposed Amendments to the Rules Governing the Continuing Legal Education Program 27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .1500, Rules Governing the Administration of the Continuing Legal Education Program
• Rule .1517, Exemptions
• Rule .1520, Requirements for Program Approval
• Rule .1522, Registered Sponsors
• Rule .1525, Professionalism Requirement for New Members (PNA)
Rules .1517, .1520, .1522, and .1525 were previously amended and published for comment in the Spring 2023 edition of the Journal as part of the comprehensive revision of the rules governing mandatory CLE. The additional proposed amendments to Rules .1517, .1520, .1522, and .1525 published for comment this quarter make the following changes: extend the existing exemption from CLE for members of the judiciary and judicial law clerks and add an exemption from CLE for lawyers who are full-time employees of the General Assembly; add an annual renewal fee for on-demand programs; create a Registered Sponsor status that can be granted by the CLE Board to sponsors that meet certain requirements; and limit the presentation of PNA programs to registered sponsors and judicial district bars approved by the Board to offer such programs.
Proposed Amendments to the Rules Governing the Specialization Program
27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .1700, The Plan of Legal Specialization; Section .3400, Certification Standards for the Child Welfare Specialty
• Rule .1723, Revocation or Suspension of Certification of a Specialist
• Rule .1725, Areas of Specialty
• Rule .3407, Applicability of Other Requirements
The proposed rule amendments clarify a specialist’s duty to report professional misconduct to the Board and make technical corrections to rules relating to the new specialty in child welfare law.