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Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Election of Officers

A. Todd Brown of Charlotte was elected vice-president, Marcia H. Armstrong of Smithfield was elected president-elect, and  Darrin D. Jordan of Salisbury was installed as president.

Retiring Councilors

The following retiring councilors were recognized:

Charles S. Rountree III, District 8
  2019-2021

C. Branson Vickory III, District 9
  2015-2021

Fred M. Morelock, District 10
  2019-2021

Theodore C. Edwards II, District 10
  2013-2021

William S. Mills, District 16
  2013-2021

William C. Fields, Jr., District 19
  2019-2021

Thomas W. Anderson, District 23
  2013-2021

Mark P. Henriques, District 26
  2013-2021

A. Todd Brown, District 26
  2013-2021

Gerald R. Collins Jr., District 43
  2013-2021

Appointments

The following appointments were made:

Board of Law ExaminersThe council reappointed Ronald G. Baker, Calvin E. Murphy, and Ronald L. Gibson to three-year terms.

Board of Continuing Legal Education—The council reappointed Adrienne S. Blocker and Leah Kane to a three-year terms and appointed Dayton T. Cole to a three-year term.

Client Security Board of TrusteesThe council appointed James K. Dorsett III to a five-year term.

Board of Paralegal Certification—The council reappointed Matthew Smith (lawyer) and H. Benita Angel Gwynn Powell (lawyer) to three-year terms.

Recommendations for Appointment Sought 

Anyone interested in being appointed to serve on any of the State Bar’s boards, commissions or committees should email lheidbrink@ncbar.gov to express that interest (being sure to attach a current resume), by January 7, 2022. The council will make the following appointments at its meeting in January:

Lawyer Assistance Program Board (LAP)(3-year terms)—There are three appointments to be made. Reid Acree Jr. (volunteer) and Gerald Collins Jr. (councilor) are not eligible for reappointment. Michael E. McGuire (clinician) is eligible for reappointment.

The mission of the Lawyer Assistance Program is to protect the public from impaired lawyers and judges; assist lawyers, judges, and law students with issues that may be impairing; support the recovery process of lawyers and judges; and educate the legal community about issues of substance abuse. The LAP Board, which oversees the operation of the program, is a nine-member board comprised of three State Bar councilors, three LAP volunteers, and three clinicians who are experienced in working within the substance abuse and/or mental health field. The LAP Board examines policy issues and establishes policy relative to the LAP mission. The LAP Board meets during the regularly scheduled quarterly State Bar Council meetings.

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 2021 are District 18, composed of Chatham and Orange Counties, and District 21, composed of Anson and Richmond Counties. 

Ethics Committee

The State Bar Council did not adopt a new ethics opinion this quarter. At its meeting on October 8, 2021, following favorable votes from both the Ethics Committee and the Executive Committee, the council approved for publication a revised version of a proposed comment to Rule 1.1, Competency, addressing a lawyer’s awareness of implicit bias and cultural differences. This aspirational comment states that a lawyer should be aware of implicit bias and cultural differences relative to a client that might impact the lawyer’s representation of the client, and that such awareness enhances a lawyer’s representation of clients.

At its meeting on October 7, 2021, the Ethics Committee received reports and recommendations from two subcommittees studying proposed amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct. One subcommittee is studying the adoption of anti-discrimination language in the text of the Rules of Professional Conduct, and the other subcommittee is studying potential amendments to Rule 1.19, Sexual Relations with Clients Prohibited. Both subcommittees will continue their work over the next quarter.

In addition to the proposed rule amendments, the Ethics Committee considered a total of eight ethics inquiries. Six inquiries were sent or returned to subcommittee for further study, including inquiries addressing the confidentiality of information contained in the public record, the ethical considerations surrounding a lawyer’s participation in an online advertising platform such as Google’s Local Service Ads, and a lawyer’s professional responsibility in providing limited representation to an indigent client in a criminal matter. The committee also approved the publication of two new proposed opinions.

Both the proposed comment to Rule 1.1 and the proposed ethics opinions will be published in the next edition of the State Bar Journal and on the State Bar’s website. Comments on these proposals may be sent to the Ethics Committee by email at ethicscomments@ncbar.gov.

Grievance Committee

During the quarter, the Grievance Committee considered 328 files. The committee dismissed 273 files. One lawyer was referred to the Lawyer Assistance Program, ten lawyers were referred to the Trust Accounting Compliance Program, three lawyers received letters of caution, 11 lawyers received letters of warning, five lawyers received admonitions, five lawyers received reprimands, two lawyers received censures, and ten lawyers were referred to the Disciplinary Hearing Commission for trial.

Rule Amendments

Amendments Pending Approval by the Supreme Court 

At its meetings on April 16, 2021, July 16, 2021, and October 8, 2021, the North Carolina State Bar Council 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 2020, Spring 2021, and Summer 2021 editions of the Journal or visit the State Bar website: www.ncbar.gov.)

Amendments to the Rules on Organization of the North Carolina State Bar

27 N.C.A.C. 1A, Section .0800, Election and Appointment of State Bar Councilors

The amendments permit notices for district bar elections for State Bar councilors to be sent via email.

Amendments to the Discipline and Disability Rules

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

Amendments to Discipline and Disability Rule .0129, Reinstatement, update the bar exam requirements for reinstatement if a petition for reinstatement is filed seven or more years after the effective date of the petitioner’s suspension or disbarment. The amendments also set forth additional requirements for reinstatement from suspension, disbarment, and disability inactive status and specify that failure to comply with any requirement can result in dismissal of the petition.

Amendments to the Rules for the Administrative Committee

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

As a condition of reinstatement, if a petition for reinstatement is filed seven years or more after the effective date of the order transferring the petitioner to inactive status or administrative suspension, the amendments require, as a condition of reinstatement, a petitioner for reinstatement from inactive status or from administrative suspension to (1) attain the passing score required in North Carolina on the Uniform Bar Examination; (2) successfully complete the North Carolina state-specific component of the bar examination; and (3) attain a passing score on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination.

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

The amendments add “Diversity, Inclusion, and Elimination of Bias Training” to the definitions in Rule .1501 and, in Rule .1518, include such training in the 2022 CLE requirements for active members of the State Bar.           

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

The amendments require sponsors of CLE programs to remit sponsor fees within 90 days following the completion of a program or risk having future applications for program approval denied.

Amendments to the Plan for Legal Specialization

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

The amendments eliminate a designated time of year for the Board of Legal Specialization’s annual meeting, permit notice of meetings by email, and correct references to the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Amendments to the Standards for Certification in Criminal Law

27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .2500, Certification Standards for the Criminal Law Specialty

The amendments adjust the criminal law specialty rules to recognize separate subspecialties in federal criminal law, state criminal law, and juvenile delinquency law. Currently, the rules recognize a combined federal/state criminal law specialty, a state criminal law subspecialty, and a juvenile delinquency law subspecialty. Specialists currently certified in the federal/state criminal law specialty will remain so until their next recertification when they will have to qualify for recertification in federal criminal law or state criminal law or in both subspecialties.

Amendments to the Rules for Certain Specialty Certifications

27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .2700, Certification Standards for the Workers’ Compensation Law Specialty; Section .2800, Certification Standards for the Social Security Disability Law Specialty; Section .2900, Certification for the Elder Law Specialty; Section .3000, Certification Standards for the Appellate Practice Specialty; Section .3100, Certification Standards for the Trademark Law Specialty; Section .3200, Certification Standards for the Utilities Law Specialty; Section .3300, Certification Standards for the Privacy and Information Security Law Specialty.

The rules for some of the specialty certifications require peer references to be mailed. The amendments make the rules for the various specialties consistent with each other and enable the specialization program to send peer reference forms for all specialties by email.

Standards for New Specialty Certification

27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .3400, Certification Standards for the Child Welfare Law Specialty [NEW Section]

The rules create a new specialty certification in child welfare law. The standards are comparable to the standards for the other specialty certifications.

Amendment to the Preamble of the Rules of Professional Conduct

27 N.C.A.C. 2, Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 0.1, Preamble

The amendment adds a paragraph to the Preamble on equal treatment of all persons encountered when acting in a professional capacity.

Proposed Amendments Published for Comment 

At its meeting on October 8, 2021, the council voted to publish for comment the following proposed rule amendment:

Proposed Amendment to the Rules of Professional Conduct

27 N.C.A.C. 2, Rule 1.01, Competence

The proposed amendment to Rule 1.01 adds new comment [9] which states that awareness of implicit bias and cultural differences enhances a lawyer’s competency.

Miscellaneous 

The council also adopted a Resolution of Appreciation for Barbara R. Christy upon her completion of service as the North Carolina State Bar President.

Filed Under: General News

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