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Monday, November 20, 2017

October Meeting Synopsis

ELECTION OF OFFICERS 

C. Colon Willoughby Jr. of Raleigh was elected as vice president. G. Gray Wilson of Winston-Salem was elected as president-elect. John M. Silverstein of Raleigh was installed as president and L. Thomas Lunsford II was re-elected secretary-treasurer.

RETIRING COUNCILORS AND MEMBERS OF BOARDS AND AGENCIES 

The following retiring councilors and members of boards and agencies were recognized at the Annual Meeting of the North Carolina State Bar:

COUNCILORS

Richard S. Towers, 18HP, 01/09-12/17

Roger S. Tripp, 22B, 01/09-01/17

Sonya C. McGraw, 27A, 01/09-12/17

Patricia Head, Public Member

Emmanuel Wilder, Public Member

Robert C. Sinclair, Public Member

 

LAWYER ASSISTANCE PROGRAM BOARD

Joseph P. Jordan, 2011-2017

Robert  E., Nunley, 2011-2017

Barbara Christy, 2015-2017

 

AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION DELEGATES

M. Keith Kapp, 2013-2017

Deyaska Spencer, 2015-2017

 

DISCIPLINARY HEARING COMMISSION

Joshua W. Willey Jr., 2011-2017

Shirley Fulton, 2014-2017

 

BOARD OF LEGAL SPECIALIZATION

Laura D. Burton, 2010-2017

Teresa Vincent, 2011-2017

Priscilla P. Taylor, 2011-2017

 

IOLTA BOARD OF TRUSTEES

John B. McMillan, 2011-2017

 

BOARD OF PARALEGAL CERTIFICATION

Teresa L. Bowling, 2011-2017

Howard L. Gum, 2011-2017

 

CLIENT SECURITY FUND BOARD

Cecil W. Sewell Jr., 2012-2017

 

NC BOARD OF CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION

Edward P. Tewkesbury, 2011-2017

 

LEGAL SERVICE OF SOUTHERN PIEDMONT

Robert Bernhardt, 2016-2017

 

NC DISPUTE RESOLUTION COMMISSION

W. Mark Spence, 2014-2017

 

NC JUDICIAL STANDARDS COMMISSION

Fred H. Moody Jr., 2012-2017

Edward T. Hinson Jr., 2007-2017

 

NC BOARD OF LAW EXAMINERS

James R. Van Camp, 2005-2017

APPOINTMENTS 

The council made the following appointments:

Client Security Fund Board of Trustees – John E. Burns of Oxford was appointed to a five-year term. Anthony S. di Santi of Boone was appointed as chair, and Ranee Singleton of Washington was reappointed as vice chair.

Board of Law Examiners – George R. Hicks of Fayetteville was appointed to a three-year term. Jaye P. Meyer of Raleigh and Roger A. Askew of Raleigh were reappointed to three-year terms.

Board of Continuing Legal Education – Robert C. Kemp III of Greenville was appointed to a three-year term. J. Dickson Phillips II of Chapel Hill and Judge Linda McGee of Raleigh were reappointed to three-year terms. Arnita M. Dula of Hickory was appointed as chair, and George L. Jenkins Jr. of Kinston was appointed as vice chair.

NC LEAF – William R. Purcell II of Laurinburg was reappointed to a one-year term.

NC Judicial Standards Commission – Lonnie M. Player Jr. of Fayetteville and J. Anthony Penry of Raleigh were appointed to six-year terms.

Board of Paralegal Certification – H. Russell Neighbors of Marion, Sarah H. Kaufman of Raleigh, and Lakisha Chichester of Durham were appointed to three-year terms. Robert C. Bowers of Charlotte was appointed as chair, and Warren Hodges of Winston-Salem was appointed as vice chair.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR APPOINTMENTS SOUGHT

Anyone interested in being appointed to serve on any of the State Bar’s boards, commissions, or committees should email the State Bar’s Executive Director, Tom Lunsford, at tlunsford@ncbar.gov to express that interest, being sure to attach a current resume.

Lawyer Assistance Program Board (3-year terms) – There are four appointments to be made at the council’s January 2018 meeting. Laneé Borsman (volunteer), Eben T. Rawls III (councilor), and Connie Mele (clinician) are eligible for reappointment. Darrin Jordan (councilor) is not eligible to be reappointed.

RANDOM AUDITS

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 fourth quarter of 2017 were District 11A, composed of Harnett and Lee Counties, and District 22B, composed of Davie and Davidson Counties.

COUNCIL MEETINGS 

The council will hold its regular quarterly meetings on the following dates in 2018:

January 23-26, NC State Bar Headquarters, Raleigh

April 17-20, NC State Bar Headquarters, Raleigh

July 24-27, Carolina Hotel, Pinehurst

October 23-26, NC State Bar Headquarters, Raleigh

DUES FOR 2018 

The council decided that the amount of the annual membership fee (dues) for 2018 should remain at the current level, $300.

CLIENT SECURITY FUND ASSESSMENT 

The council received a report from the Client Security Fund’s Board of Trustees regarding the financial condition of the fund and its budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Upon the recommendation of the trustees and the Executive Committee, the council decided to recommend to the Supreme Court that the amount of the annual assessment for 2018 be $25. The $25 assessment was subsequently approved by the Supreme Court and will be invoiced to the State Bar’s active membership along with the annual membership fee in early December.

ETHICS COMMITTEE

Upon the recommendation of the Ethics Committee, the council adopted the following ethics opinions: 2017 FEO 2, Maintaining Fiduciary Account in Accordance with Rule 1.15, rules that a lawyer representing an estate must maintain the checking account for the estate in accordance with Rule 1.15, consistent with the extent to which the lawyer has control over the account. 2017 FEO 5, Agreement Not to Solicit or Hire Lawyers from Another Firm as Part of Merger Negotiations, rules that an agreement between law firms engaged in merger negotiations not to solicit or hire lawyers from each other for a relatively short period of time after expiration of the term of the agreement is permissible because it is a de minimis restriction on lawyer mobility that does not impair client choice and is reasonable under the circumstances. The council also adopted amendments to Rule 3.5, Impartiality and Decorum of the Tribunal, previously proposed by the committee.

At its meeting on October 26, 2017, the Ethics Committee voted to defer consideration of proposed 2016 FEO 1, Contesting Opposing Counsel’s Fee Request to Industrial Commission, pending the conclusion of appellate action in a case that is relevant to the proposed opinion. The Ethics Committee sent the following item to subcommittee for further consideration: Inquiry of Hartzell 2, Duty to Disclose Adverse Legal Authority. The committee voted to return the following two items to subcommittees for further consideration: Inquiry of Skinner, Accessing Social Network Pages of Represented or Unrepresented Persons, and Proposed 2017 FEO 6, Participation in Platform for Finding and Employing a Lawyer. The committee revised and approved Ethics Advisory 2431, Conflicts of Interest. No new proposed opinions were approved for publication.

GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE 

During the quarter the Grievance Committee considered 385 cases. One lawyer was referred to the Trust Account Compliance Program, two lawyers were referred to the Lawyers Assistance Program, three lawyers received letters of caution, ten lawyers received letters of warning, eight lawyers received admonitions, one lawyer received a reprimand, and 13 lawyers were referred to the Disciplinary Hearing Commission for trial.

RULE AMENDMENTS

Amendments for Which Supreme Court Approval is Pending – At its meeting on October 27, 2017, the council adopted, subject to the Supreme Court’s approval, the amendments described below. It is anticipated that these amendments will be submitted to the Court in January 2018.

A) 27 N.C.A.C. 1A, .0700 - Standing Committees of the Council

Rule .0701, Standing Committees and Boards

The proposed amendments would eliminate the Technology and Social Media Committee and establish the Communications Committee as a standing committee of the State Bar Council instead.

B) 27 N.C.A.C. 1G, .0100, The Plan for Certification of Paralegals

Rule .0119 Standards for Certification of Paralegals

The proposed amendments would allow applicants who hold national certifications from qualified national paralegal organizations (including the CLA/CP certifications from the National Association of Paralegals and the PACE-Registered Paralegal certification from the National Federation of Paralegal Associations) to sit for the certification exam although they have not satisfied the educational requirements for certification. The proposed amendments would also delete a provision that was in effect for the first two years of the certification program that allowed alternative qualifications for certification, and would require certain qualified paralegal studies programs to include the equivalent of one semester’s credit in legal ethics.

C) 27 N.C.A.C. 2, Rules of Professional Conduct

Rule 1.15-1, Safekeeping Property

Rule 1.15-2, General Rules

The proposed amendments would specify that certain restrictions on the authority to sign trust account checks also apply to the initiation of electronic transfers from trust accounts. The amendments would also define “electronic transfer” and make clear that lawyers are permitted to sign trust account checks using a “digital signature” as defined by statute.

D)  27 N.C.A.C. 2, Rules of Professional Conduct

Rule 3.5, Impartiality and Decorum of the Tribunal

The proposed amendments would clarify the prohibition on ex parte communications with a judge and improve the clarity of the rule overall.

E)  27 N.C.A.C. 2, Rules of Professional Conduct

Rule 1.15-3, Records and Accountings

The proposed amendments would reduce the number of quarterly reviews of fiduciary accounts that must be performed by lawyers who manage more than ten fiduciary accounts on the assumption that such accounts are managed in the same manner and reviews of a random sample of the accounts should be sufficient to facilitate the early detection of internal theft and the correction of errors.

Proposed Amendments for Publication – At its meeting on October 27, 2017, the council voted to publish the following proposed amendments to the State Bar’s rules for comment.

A) 27 N.C.A.C. 1A, Rule .0500, Meetings of the North Carolina State Bar

            Rule .0501, Annual Meetings

            Rule .0502, Special Meetings

            Rule .0503, Notice of Meetings

            Rule .0504, Quorum

            Rule .0505, Parliamentary Rules

The proposed amendments would revamp the manner and method of giving notice of the annual meeting of the State Bar. The proposed amendments would also clarify the manner and method for calling a special meeting of the State Bar.

B) 27 N.C.A.C. 1A, Rule .0600, Meetings of the Council

            Rule .0601, Regular Meetings

            Rule .0602, Special Meetings

            Rule .0603, Notice of Meetings

            Rule .0604, Quorum at Meeting of Council

            Rule .0605, Parliamentary Rules

The proposed amendments would revamp the manner and method for giving notice of regular meetings of the council. The proposed amendments would also clarify the manner and method for calling a special meeting of the council, including allowing notice to be given by email or other electronic means. The proposed amendments would allow members to participate in special meetings by audio or video conferencing or other electronic method, and give the president authority to allow attendance at regular meetings by audio or video conferencing on a discretionary basis.

C) 27 N.C.A.C. 1A, .0700 - Standing Committees of the Council

Rule .0701, Standing Committees and Boards

The proposed amendment would eliminate a provision in the rule defining the authority of the Administrative Committee that appears to allow that committee to establish, and presumably superintend, a “Publications Board.” A pending amendment published following the council’s last meeting would create a “Communications Committee” that is intended to coordinate all of the State Bar’s media and messaging. It is contemplated that the State Bar’s publications would function under the auspices of the Communications Committee going forward, not the Administrative Committee.

D) 27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Rule .1500, Rules Governing the Administration of the Continuing Legal Education Program

            Rule .1501 Scope, Purpose and Definitions

            Rule .1512 Source of Funds

            Rule .1518 Continuing Legal Education Program

            Rule .1519 Accreditation Standards

            Rule .1520 Registration of Sponsors and Program Approval

            Rule .1526 Effective Date

The proposed amendments would replace the designation “accredited sponsor,” a designation that is potentially misleading as to the extent to which such sponsors are vetted by the CLE board, with the designation “registered sponsor” and would reconcile the requirements for designation as a registered CLE Sponsor with current practice.

E) 27 N.C.A.C. 1A, Rule .1600, Regulations Governing the Administration of the Continuing Legal Education Program

            Rule .1601 General Requirements for Program Approval

            Rule .1603 Registered Sponsors

            Rule .1606 Fees

The proposed amendments would replace the designation “accredited sponsor,” a designation that is potentially misleading as to the extent to which such sponsors are vetted by the CLE board, with the designation “registered sponsor” and would reconcile the requirements for designation as a registered CLE Sponsor with current practice.

F) 27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Rule 1700, The Plan of Legal Specialization

Rule .1723 Revocation or Suspension of Certification as a Specialist

The proposed amendment would change the rule on mandatory revocation and suspension of certification due to professional discipline thusly: if any part of a disciplinary suspension is active, specialty certification will be automatically revoked; if the entire disciplinary suspension is stayed, certification will be suspended and shall not be reinstated until completion of the entire stayed disciplinary suspension. For specialty certification to be reinstated, the specialist must apply for and satisfy all requirements for recertification. If a specialist is scheduled for recertification during a stayed disciplinary suspension, the recertification will be deferred until the disciplinary suspension ends.

G) 27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Rule 1700, The Plan of Legal Specialization

            Rule .1725 Areas of Practice

The proposed amendments would add specialties recently approved by the NC Supreme Court to the list of recognized specialties in the Plan of Legal Specialization and would correct an oversight in the list relative to the criminal law specialty.

H) 27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Rule 2300, Certification Standards for Estate Planning and Probate Law Specialty

            .2306 Standards for Continued Certification as a Specialist

The proposed amendment would allow service as a trust officer, a gift planning officer, or other employment that is outside private practice to satisfy the substantial involvement standard for recertification in the estate planning and probate law specialty, provided the specialist’s work duties are primarily in the area of estate planning or trust administration.

 

Filed Under: General News

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