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Monday, July 08, 2019



The following appointments were made:

American Bar Association Delegates – Appointments to complete the terms of Ronald G. Baker Sr. of Kitty Hawk, Shelby Benton of Goldsboro, and Margaret M. Hunt of Brevard as ABA delegates were deferred. Mr. Baker, Ms. Benton, and Ms. Hunt resigned as ABA delegates. The appointment of a young lawyer delegate to replace R. Bryan Norris Jr. of Greensboro, the existing delegate, upon the expiration of Mr. Norris’s term, was also deferred. Mark W. Merritt of Charlotte was reappointed to a two-year term.

Disciplinary Hearing Commission – The council reappointed Donald C. Prentiss (chair) of Elizabeth City, Margaret M. Hunt of Brevard, and Allison C. Tomberlin of Winston-Salem to three-year terms. The council also appointed James A. Davis of Salisbury and Margit M. Hicks of Fayetteville to three-year terms commencing July 1, 2019.

Grievance Resolution Board – The council recommended Robert E. Campbell of Taylorsville to the governor for reappointment to a four-year term.

NC General Statutes Commission – The president reappointed Starkey Sharp of Kitty Hawk to a two-year term.

Recommendations for Appointments Sought 

The council will make the following appointments at its meeting in July 2019. Anyone wishing to be considered or nominate someone should contact Alice Neece Mine at the State Bar office: 919-828-4620;; PO Box 25908, Raleigh, NC 27611.

Board of Legal Specialization (3-year terms) – There are two appointments to be made. Everett “Vic” Knight of Chapel Hill (public member) is eligible for reappointment. Robert A. Mason of Asheboro (chair) is not eligible for reappointment.

IOLTA Board of Trustees (3-year terms) – There are three appointments to be made. Maria Misse of Ahoskie and Steven D. Michael of Kitty Hawk are eligible for reappointment. Edward C. Winslow III of Greensboro is not eligible for reappointment.

Commission on Indigent Defense Services (4-year terms) – There is one appointment to be made. David R. Teddy of Shelby is not eligible for reappointment.

NC Dispute Resolution Commission (3-year terms) – There is one appointment to be made. Robert A. Ponton Jr. of Raleigh is not eligible for reappointment.

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 second quarter of 2019 are District 10, composed of Wake County, and District 24, composed of Guilford County.

Ethics Committee

At the meeting of the Ethics Committee on April 25, 2019, the committee considered 11 inquiries. Four inquiries were sent to subcommittee for further study. Two ethics decisions will be sent to the State Bar Council for review during the second quarter. The committee also voted to recommend adoption of three inquiries by the council and to publish the following proposed opinions for comment: Proposed 2018 Formal Ethics Opinion 5, Accessing Social Network Presence of Represented or Unrepresented Persons; and Proposed 2019 Formal Ethics Opinion 4, Ex Parte Communications with a Judge Regarding Scheduling or Administrative Matter.

At its meeting on April 26, 2019, the council adopted the following ethics opinions upon the recommendation of the Ethics Committee: 2019 Formal Ethics Opinion 1, Lawyer as an Intermediary; 2019 Formal Ethics Opinion 2, Conditions Imposed on Lawyer by Client’s ERISA Plan; and 2019 Formal Ethics Opinion 3, Engaging in Intimate Relationship with Opposing Counsel.

Grievance Committee

During the quarter the Grievance Committee considered 309 files. Four lawyers were referred to the Trust Account Compliance Program, four lawyers were referred to the Lawyers Assistance Program, one lawyer received a letter of caution, 12 lawyers received letters of warning, 12 lawyers received admonitions, seven lawyers received reprimands, three lawyers received censures, and six lawyers were referred to the Disciplinary Hearing Commission for trial.

Rule Amendments

Amendments For Which Supreme Court Approval is Pending

At its meeting on April 26, 2019, the council adopted, subject to the Supreme Court’s approval, the amendments described below.

A. Proposed Amendment to the Rule on Standing Committees and Boards of the State Bar

 27 N.C.A.C. 1A, Section .0700, Standing Committees and Boards of the State Bar

  • Rule .0701 Standing Committees and Boards

The proposed amendment eliminates the requirement that the Grievance Committee establish and implement a disaster response plan to assist victims of disasters in obtaining legal representation and to prevent the improper solicitation of victims by lawyers.

B. Proposed Amendments to Rules Governing Organization of the North Carolina State Bar

27 N.C.A.C. 1A, Section .1000, Model Bylaws for Use by Judicial District Bars

  • Rule .1010 Committees

The proposed amendment reflects elimination of judicial district bar fee dispute programs.

C. Proposed Amendments to the Rule on Discipline and Disability

27 N.C.A.C. 1B, Section .0100, Discipline and Disability of Attorneys

  • Rule .0106 Grievance Committee: Powers and Duties

The proposed amendments reflect the Grievance Committee’s authority to operate the Attorney Client Assistance Program and the Fee Dispute Resolution Program.

D. Proposed Amendments to the Rules on Standing Committees and Boards of the State Bar

27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .0700, Procedures for Fee Dispute Resolution

  • Rule .0701 Purpose and Implementation
  • Rule .0702 Jurisdiction
  • Rule .0704 Confidentiality
  • Rule .0706 Powers and Duties of the Vice-Chairperson
  • Rule .0707 Processing Requests for Fee Dispute Resolution
  • Rule .0708 Settlement Conference Proceedings
  • Rule .0709 Record Keeping
  • Rule .0710 District Bar Fee Dispute Resolution
  • Rule .0711 District Bar Settlement Conference Proceedings

The proposed amendments eliminate judicial district bar fee dispute programs; eliminate language that would allow a third-party payor of legal fees or expenses to file a fee dispute petition; state that the fee dispute program does not have jurisdiction over disputes regarding fees or expenses that are the subject of a pending Client Security Fund (CSF) claim or CSF claim that has been resolved; provide that ordinarily a fee dispute will be processed before a companion grievance; and modernize the existing language of this section.

E. Proposed Amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct

Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5, Fees

The proposed amendments to Rule 1.5 and its comment expand the information a lawyer must communicate to a client before the lawyer may initiate legal proceedings to collect a disputed fee.

F. Proposed Amendments to Rules on Election, Succession, and Duties of Officers

27 N.C.A.C. 1A, Section .0400, Election, Succession, and Duties of Officers

  • Rule .0409 President
  • Rule .0412 Emergency Authority [New Rule]

The proposed amendments expressly authorize the president to act in the name of the State Bar under emergent circumstances when it is not practicable or reasonable to convene a meeting of the council. Actions taken pursuant to this authority are subject to ratification at the next meeting of the council.

G. Proposed Amendments to the CLE Rules and Regulations

27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .1500, Rules Governing the Continuing Legal Education Program; Section .1600, Regulations Governing the Continuing Legal Education Program

  • Rule .1501 Scope, Purpose, and Definitions
  • Rule .1512 Source of Funds
  • Rule .1517 Exemptions
  • Rule .1518 Continuing Legal Education Program
  • Rule .1519 Accreditation Standards
  • Rule .1520 Registration of Sponsors and Program Approval
  • Rule .1521 Credit hours
  • Rule .1524 Reinstatement
  • Rule .1601 General Requirements for Course Approval
  • Rule .1602 Course Content Requirements
  • Rule .1603 Registered Sponsors
  • Rule .1604 Accreditation of Prerecorded, Simultaneous Broadcast, and Computer-Based Programs
  • Rule .1605 Computation of Credit
  • Rule .1606 Fees

The proposed amendments to both sections of the rules that govern the administration of the CLE program eliminate the annual 6.0 cap on online CLE credit hours.

Proposed Amendments for Publication 

At its meeting on April 26, 2019, the council voted to publish the following proposed amendments to the State Bar’s rules for comment from members of the Bar.

A. Proposed Amendments to the Rules Governing the Practical Training of Law Students

27 N.C.A.C. 1C, Section .0200, Rules Governing the Practical Training of Law Students

  • Rule .0201 Purpose
  • Rule .0202 Definitions
  • Rule .0203 Eligibility
  • Rule .0204 Certification as Legal Intern Form and Duration of Certification [Title change only.]
  • Rule .0205 Supervision
  • Rule .0208 Field Placements [NEW RULE]
  • Rule .0209 Relationship of Law School and Clinics; Responsibility Upon Departure of Supervising Attorney or Closure of Clinic [NEW RULE]
  • Rule .0210 Pro Bono Activities [NEW RULE]

The proposed amendments to the Rules Governing the Practical Training of Law Students will facilitate compliance by North Carolina’s law schools with the ABA accreditation standards by supporting the development and expansion of supervised practical training of varying kinds for law students via clinics, field placements, and pro bono activities. The proposed rule amendments will also ensure that the clinical legal education programs at the state’s law schools satisfy the requirements for limited legal practice by law students permitted by G.S. 84-7.1.

B. Proposed Amendments to the Rules Governing the Administration of the CLE Program

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

  • Rule .1518 Continuing Legal Education Program

The proposed amendment to Rule .1518 eliminates the requirement that attendees of the Professionalism for New Admittees program complete course evaluations to receive CLE credit.

Filed Under: General News

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