Recognition of New Councilors
The following new councilors were recognized and welcomed:
- John D. Leidy-District 1
- Nancy Grace-District 10
- James Wade Harrison-District 17
- Jason E. Ramey-District 22
- William F. Rogers-District 25
- Craig T. Lynch-District 26
- Fred W. DeVore, III-District 26
- John G. “Jay” Vannoy-District 34
The council approved the following financial records and documents:
- 2022 Year-End Financial Statements
- 2023 State Bar Budget
- 2023 Client Security Fund Budget
- 2023 Continuing Legal Education Budget
- 2023 IOLTA Budget
- 2023 Lawyer Assistance Program Budget
- 2023 Legal Specialization Budget
- 2023 Paralegal Certification Budget
The council made the following appointments:
Lawyer Assistance Program Board (three-year terms) – Crawford H. Cleveland III (volunteer member) was appointed to a second three-year term. Theodore C. Edwards II (councilor member) and Paul D. Nagy (clinician member) were not eligible for reappointment. William Ingraham (clinician) and Takiya Lewis Blalock (councilor) were appointed to three-year terms. Warren T. Savage IV was appointed to a one-year term as chair of the board and Crawford Cleveland was appointed to a one-year term as vice-chair of the board.
NC State Bar Foundation Board (four-year terms) – Irvin W. Hankins III and Barbara B. Weyher were not eligible for reappointment. Past-Presidents Barbara R. Christy and Robert A. Wicker were appointed to four-year terms.
NC LEAF Board (one-year terms) – William R. Purcell was appointed to another one-year term and James R. Grant was appointed to a one-year term.
Disciplinary Hearing Commission (to complete partial term) – DeWitt “Mac” McCarley was appointed to complete the term of Fred DeVore who resigned effective December 31, 2022, after being elected to the State Bar Council. Mr. McCarley will complete the term on June 30, 2023, and will be eligible for reappointment for two consecutive three-year terms on the commission.
Recommendations for Appointments Sought
Anyone interested in being appointed to serve on a State Bar board, commission, or committee should email email@example.com to express that interest (being sure to attach a current resume), by April 10, 2023. The council will make the following appointments at its meeting in April:
Disciplinary Hearing Commission (three-year terms) – There are five appointments to be made by the State Bar Council. DeWitt McCarley, Brian O. Beverly, and Irving L. Joyner are eligible for reappointment.
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 2023 are District 1, composed of Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Pasquotank, and Perquimans Counties, and District 31 composed of Forsyth County.
The State Bar Council did not adopt any ethics opinions this quarter. At its meeting on January 19, 2023, the Ethics Committee considered a total of seven inquiries. The committee withdrew Proposed 2020 FEO 6 (published in October 2020) following the adoption of amendments to Rule 1.6 and Rule 1.9 regarding a lawyer’s professional responsibility in handling confidential client information. The proposed opinion originally concluded that a lawyer must have client consent to publicly discuss any aspect of the client’s case, including information contained in the public record or events at a public hearing. Under the newly amended rules, a lawyer may discuss information acquired during the representation of a former client if the information is contained in the public record, was disclosed at a public hearing, or was otherwise publicly disseminated unless disclosure would be detrimental to the client. As the amended rules rendered the original proposed opinion moot, the committee voted to withdraw the proposed opinion and allow the rule amendments to resolve the inquiry.
Two inquiries were returned or sent to a subcommittee for further study, including Proposed 2022 FEO 4, Billing Considerations for Overlapping Legal Services, and an inquiry examining a lawyer-mediator’s ability to draft an agreement between pro se parties defining the terms of participating in a mediation. The committee declined to opine on an inquiry addressing a lawyer’s ability to use the title “Doctor” in the lawyer’s communications, thereby confirming the State Bar’s prior decisions on the issue (RPC 5 and 2007 FEO 5). Additionally, the committee received a report from a new subcommittee created to study a possible “humanitarian exception” to the prohibition on providing financial assistance to a client set forth in Rule 1.8(e). The exception would permit a lawyer to provide nominal financial gifts to indigent clients under limited circumstances. Lastly, the committee approved the publication of two new proposed opinions: Proposed 2023 Formal Ethics Opinion 1, Sale or Closure of a Law Practice and Proper Handling of Aged Client Files; and Proposed 2023 Formal Ethics Opinion 2, Confidentiality Clause that Restricts a Lawyer’s Right to Practice. Both proposed opinions are published in this quarter’s edition of the State Bar Journal and on the State Bar’s website. Comments on the proposed opinions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the quarter, the Grievance Committee considered 174 files. The committee dismissed 133 files. One file was dismissed and retained. Two files were continued. Five lawyers were referred to the Trust Accounting Compliance Program, one lawyer was referred to the Lawyer Assistance Program, three lawyers received letters of caution, nine lawyers received letters of warning, four lawyers received admonitions, three lawyers received reprimands, and five lawyers were referred to the Disciplinary Hearing Commission for trial.
Amendments Pending Supreme Court Approval
At its meetings on October 21, 2022, and January 20, 2023, the council adopted, subject to the Supreme Court’s approval, the amendments described below.
Proposed Amendments to the Rule on Standing Committees of the Council
27 N.C.A.C. 1A, Section .0700, Standing Committees of the Council
- Rule .0701, Standing Committees and Boards
The proposed amendments designate the Access to Justice Committee as a standing committee of the Council.
Proposed Amendments to the Discipline and Disability Rules
27 N.C.A.C. 1B, Section .0100, Discipline and Disability Rules
- Rule .0105, Chairperson of the Grievance Committee: Powers and Duties
- Rule .0106, Grievance Committee: Powers and Duties
- Rule .0113, Proceedings Before the Grievance Committee
- Rule .0119, Effect of a Finding of Guilt in Any Criminal Case
Proposed amendments to Rules .0105, .0106, and .0113 provide the procedural framework for grievance reviews for discipline issued to a respondent by the Grievance Committee. Amendments to G.S. Chapter 84 last year required the establishment of the review procedure.
Proposed amendments to Rule .0119 set forth what the State Bar must do when a criminal conviction relevant to a disciplinary matter is expunged, overturned, or otherwise eliminated.
Proposed Amendments to the Rules for Administrative Reinstatement
27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .0900, Procedures for Administrative Committee
- Rule .0902, Reinstatement from Inactive Status
The proposed amendments permit a member of the federal judiciary who is an inactive member of the State Bar to use each year (or portion thereof) of service as a federal judicial official to offset each year of inactive status for the purpose of determining whether the judge (inactive member) must sit for and pass the bar exam to be reinstated to active status.
Proposed Amendments to the Rules Governing IOLTA
27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .1300, Rules Governing the Administration of the Plan for Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA)
- Rule .1306, Appointment of Members; When; Removal
- Rule .1313, Fiscal Responsibility Rule .1314, Meetings
- Rule .1316, IOLTA Accounts
- Rule .1319, Certification
The proposed amendments are largely technical in nature, improving clarity and revising designated dates and timeframes to comport with practice.
Proposed Amendments to the Rules on Prepaid Legal Services Plans
27 N.C.A.C. 1E, Section .0300, Rules Concerning Prepaid Legal Services Plans
- Rule .0301, Rules Concerning Prepaid Legal Services Plans
The proposed amendments change the definition of prepaid legal services plans to prohibit such plans from operating simultaneously as intermediary organizations (formerly known as lawyer referral services).
Proposed Amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct
27 N.C.A.C. 2, The Rules of Professional Conduct
- Rule 1.15, Safekeeping Property
- Rule 4.1, Truthfulness in Statements to Others
The proposed amendments add definitions for four different types of ledgers to Rule 1.15-1, and reorder the subparagraphs in Rules 1.15-2 and 1.15-3 to make the progression of requirements more logical.
The proposed amendment to Rule 4.1 makes a technical correction to comment .
Proposed Amendments Published for Comment
At its meeting on January 20, 2023, the council voted to publish for comment the following proposed rule amendments:
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; 27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .1600, Regulations Governing the Administration of the Continuing Legal Education Program
- Rules .1501 to .1527
- Rules .1601 to .1606
Proposed amendments to the CLE rules were published multiple times throughout 2022 as the Board of Continuing Legal Education sought to improve and “reimagine” the procedures and processes for regulating compliance with mandatory CLE. The CLE Rules as comprehensively revised will be published in their entirety in the next edition of the State Bar Journal and on the State Bar website.
Filed Under: General News