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Monday, March 16, 2020

RECOGNITION OF NEW COUNCILORS 

The following new councilors were recognized and welcomed:

Thomas D. Anglim, District 2

Scott C. Hart, District 4

Julie L. Bell, District 10

Joshua D. Malcolm, District 20

Michael Allen Lovejoy, District 42

FINANCIAL REPORT 

The council approved the following financial reports:

2019 Year-End Financial Statements

2020 State Bar Budget

2020 Client Security Fund Budget

2020 Continuing Legal Education Budget

2020 Legal Specialization Budget

2020 Lawyer Assistance Program Budget

2020 IOLTA Budget

2020 Paralegal Certification Budget

APPOINTMENTS 

The council made the following appointments:

Lawyer Assistance Program Board (three-year terms) – Theodore C. Edwards II (councilor) and Paul D. Nagy (clinician) were reappointed. John A. Bowman (volunteer) was not eligible for reappointment. Crawford H. Cleveland III (volunteer) was appointed to a three-year term. Theodore C. Edwards II was appointed as chair of the board and Lanée Borsman was appointed as vice-chair of the board.

NC State Bar Foundation Board (staggered terms) – The council approved bylaw amendments reappointing the existing members of the board to staggered terms as follows: William O. King (one-year term), M. Ann Reed (two-year term), Dudley Humphrey (two-year term), Irvin W. Hankins III (three-year term), Barbara B. Weyher (three-year term), Anthony diSanti (four-year term), and James K. Dorsett III (four-year term). None of the existing board members will be eligible for reappointment following the completion of the member’s assigned staggered term.

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, Alice Neece Mine, at amine@ncbar.gov, and express that interest, being sure to attach a current resume. The council will make the following appointments at its meeting on April 17, 2020: 

Disciplinary Hearing Commission (three-year terms) – There are five appointments to be made by the council. Stephanie Davis and Fred W. DeVore are eligible for reappointment. David W. Long and R. Lee Farmer are not eligible for reappointment. 

Legal Services of Southern Piedmont (three-year terms) – There is one appointment to be made. Eben T. Rawls II is eligible, but is not seeking reappointment.

North Carolina General Statutes Commission (two-year terms) – There is one appointment to be made. Starkey Sharp is 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 first quarter of 2020 are District 9, composed of Greene, Lenoir, and Wayne Counties, and District 17, composed of Alamance County. 

ETHICS COMMITTEE 

The State Bar Council adopted one opinion on January 24, 2020: 2019 FEO 7, Attorney Eyes Only Disclosure Restriction. Additionally, the Ethics Committee voted to publish one opinion for comment this quarter: Proposed 2020 FEO 1, Responding to Negative Online Reviews. This proposed opinion states that a lawyer may post a proportional and restrained response to a negative online review but may not disclose confidential client information. The Ethics Committee approved an ethics advisory on the topic of whether a lawyer is prohibited from representing his solo practice in litigation where the lawyer is likely to be a necessary witness in the dispute; the committee will also study this issue as a new formal inquiry. The Ethics Committee continues to study two inquiries: one concerning the various communications between lawyers and judges, and the other concerning advancing a client’s portion of settlement funds. 

GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE

During the quarter, the Grievance Committee considered 275 files. The committee dismissed 219 files and dismissed and retained one file. Two lawyers were referred to the Lawyer Assistance Program; four lawyers were referred to the Trust Accounting Compliance Program; five lawyers received a letters of caution; 12 lawyers received letters of warning; eight lawyers received admonitions; three lawyers received reprimands; three lawyers received censures; and seven lawyers were referred to the Disciplinary Hearing Commission for trial.

RULE AMENDMENTS

Amendments for Which Supreme Court Approval is Pending

At its meetings on October 25, 2019, and January 24, 2020, the council adopted, subject to the Supreme Court’s approval, the amendments described below.

A) Proposed Amendment to the Rules Governing the Administrative Committee

27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .0900, Procedures for the Administrative Committee

Rule .0903, Suspension for Failure to Fulfill Obligations of Membership

The proposed amendment will allow service of a notice to show cause via publication in the State Bar Journal when the State Bar is unable to serve a member using other authorized methods.

B) Proposed Amendment to The Plan of Legal Specialization

27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .1700, The Plan of Legal Specialization

Rule .1720, Minimum Standards for Certification of Specialists

The proposed amendment clarifies the prohibition on waiving the minimum years of practice requirement for specialty certification.

C) Proposed Amendment to Immigration Law Specialty Standards

27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .2600, Certification Standards for the Immigration Law Specialty

Rule .2605, Standards for Certification as a Specialist in Immigration Law

The proposed amendment permits the Board of Legal Specialization to offer the immigration law specialty exam either annually or every other year based upon the recommendation of the Immigration Law Specialty Committee.

D) Proposed Amendments to The Plan for Certification of Paralegals

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

Rule .0119, Standards for Certification of Paralegals

The proposed amendments eliminate the educational prerequisite for paralegal certification for applicants who satisfy work experience requirements. To be certified, applicants who satisfy the work experience requirements must pass the certification examination. 

Proposed Amendments Published for Comment 

At its meeting on January 24, 2020, the council voted to publish for comment the following proposed rule amendments:

A) Proposed Amendments to the Rules on Administrative Reinstatement

27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .0900, Procedures for Administrative Committee

Rule .0902, Reinstatement from Inactive Status

Rule.0904, Reinstatement from Suspension

The proposed amendments replace the current $125 fee for reinstatement from inactive status and administrative suspension with a fee in an amount to be determined by the Council.

B) Proposed Amendments to Regulations for Organizations Practicing Law

27 N.C.A.C. 1E, Section .0100, Regulations for Professional Corporations and Professional Limited Liability Companies Practicing Law; Section .0200, Registration of Interstate and International Law Firms

Rule .0104, Management and Financial Matters

Rule .0105, General and Administrative Provisions

Rule .0203, Registration Fee

The proposed amendments replace specified filing and registration fees with fees in amounts to be determined by the council.

C) Proposed Amendments to the Rules for Prepaid Legal Services Plans

27 N.C.A.C. 1E, Section .0300, Rules Concerning Prepaid Legal Services Plans

Rule .0301 State Bar May Not Approve or Disapprove Plans [INCORPORATED INTO NEW RULE .0309]

Rule .0303 .0301 Definitions of Prepaid Plan

Rule .0311 .0302 State Bar Jurisdiction

Rule .0303 Role of Authorized Practice Committee [NEW RULE]

Rule .0309 .0304 Index of Registered Plans

Rule .0302 .0305 Registration Requirement

Rule .0304 .0307 Registration Procedures

Rule .0305 .0308 Initial Registration Determination

Rule .0309 Registration Does Not Constitute Approval [NEW RULE]

Rule .0310 Advertising of State Bar Approval Prohibited [INCORPORATED INTO NEW RULE .0309]

Rule .0310 Initial Registration Statement Form [NEW RULE]

Rule .0307 .0311 Annual Registration Renewal

Rule .0312 Registration Renewal Form [NEW RULE]

Rule .0306 .0313 Requirement to File Registration Amendments

Rule .0314 Determination of Registration Amendments [NEW RULE]

Rule .0315 Registration Amendment Form [NEW RULE]

Rule .0312 .0316 Revocation of Registration

Rule .0313 .0317 Hearing before the Authorized Practice Committee

Rule .0314 .0318 Action by the Council

The proposed amendments update the rules and the forms for registering prepaid legal services plans with the State Bar. The comprehensive amendments to the rules include the following: incorporation of the registration, renewal, and amendment forms in the rules; elimination of the requirement that the State Bar review plan documents to determine whether representations made in the registration, renewal, and amendment forms are true; and specification that registration and renewal fees shall be in amounts to be determined by the State Bar Council.

Filed Under: General News

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