At its meeting on July 21, 2023, the council made the following appointments:
Board of Legal Specialization (three-year terms) – The council appointed Misty Didieo (public member) and Mary Pollard (lawyer, non-specialist) to three-year terms. Jan E. Pritchett was reappointed to a one-year term while serving in the capacity of board chair. Matthew Ladenheim was appointed to a one-year term as vice chair.
IOLTA Board (three-year terms) – The council appointed D. Cole Phelps to a three-year term and reappointed John S. Arrowood and John J. Keane to their second three-year terms. Shelby D. Benton was appointed to a one-year term as chair and Heather W. Culp was appointed to a one-year term as vice chair.
Commission on Indigent Defense Services (four-year terms) – The council reappointed Stacey Rubain to a four-year term.
North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission (three-year terms) – State Bar President Marcia H. Armstrong appointed Paul J. Ekster to a three-year term.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR APPOINTMENTS SOUGHT
Anyone interested in being appointed to serve on any of the State Bar’s boards, commissions, or committees may email firstname.lastname@example.org to express that interest, being sure to attach a current resume. Submissions by October 13, 2023, will be included in agenda materials for the October meeting of the council. The council will make the following appointments at its October 2023 meeting:
Board of Continuing Legal Education (three-year terms)—There are three appointments to be made. Paul Capua and Judge Ashleigh Parker Dunston are eligible for reappointment. Robert C. Kemp III is not eligible for reappointment. The rules governing the Board of Continuing Legal Education require the council to appoint the board’s chair and vice-chair annually.
The Board of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) is a nine-member board composed of North Carolina licensed attorneys. The board establishes policy related to the execution of the CLE program’s mission and is responsible for oversight of the operation of the program subject to the statutes governing the practice of law, the authority of the council, and the rules of the board. The board usually meets four times a year.
The North Carolina State Bar’s mandatory CLE program helps lawyers licensed to practice and practicing in North Carolina achieve and maintain professional competence for the benefit of the public they serve.
Board of Law Examiners (three-year terms)—There are three appointments to be made. George R. Hicks III, Judge Ned W. Mangum, and Roger A. Askew are eligible for reappointment.
The 11 members of the North Carolina Board of Law Examiners are appointed by the State Bar Council. The board examines applicants and establishes rules and regulations for admission to the North Carolina State Bar. The board’s objective is to ensure that all persons seeking admission to practice law in North Carolina possess the requisite competency and qualifications of character and fitness. Board members review bar examination questions; conduct character and fitness and comity hearings; supervise the bar examinations; and grade the examinations. Additionally, the board engages in periodic review of methods utilized in the examination and grading process. A board member donates an average of 35-45 days to service each year.
Client Security Fund Board of Trustees (five-year terms)—There is one appointment to be made. L. Thomas Lunsford is not eligible for reappointment. The rules governing the Client Security Fund require the council to appoint the board’s chair and vice-chair annually.
The Client Security Fund was established by the North Carolina Supreme Court in 1984 to reimburse clients who have suffered financial loss as the result of dishonest conduct of lawyers engaged in the private practice of law in North Carolina. The fund is administered by a board of trustees composed of four North Carolina lawyers and one public member. The trustees are appointed by the North Carolina State Bar Council.
Board of Paralegal Certification (three-year terms)—There are three appointments to be made. Bryan G. Scott (lawyer member), Lakisha Chichester (paralegal member), and Sarah H. Kaufman (paralegal member) are not eligible for reappointment. The rules governing the Board of Paralegal Certification require the council to appoint the board’s chair and vice-chair annually.
The Board of Paralegal Certification is a nine-member board composed of five North Carolina licensed attorneys (one of whom must be a paralegal educator) and four North Carolina certified paralegals. The board establishes policy related to the execution of the paralegal certification program and is responsible for the oversight of the operation of the program subject to the statutes governing the practice of law, the authority of the council, and the rules of the board. The paralegal certification program assists in the delivery of competent representation to the public by identifying individuals who are qualified by education and training and have demonstrated knowledge, skill, and proficiency to perform substantive legal work under the direction and supervision of a licensed lawyer. The board usually meets four times a year.
North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission (six-year terms)—There are two appointments to be made. Allison Mullins is eligible for reappointment (because she was completing an unexpired term). Lonnie M. Player Jr. is not eligible for reappointment. N.C. Gen. Stat. §7A-375(a) states that the State Bar Council appointments to the commission “four members of the State Bar who have actively practiced in the courts of the state for at least ten years.”
The 14-member commission is composed of six judges appointed by the chief justice (two court of appeals judges; two superior court judges; two district court judges); four attorneys appointed by the North Carolina State Bar Council; four citizen members who are not judges or lawyers of which two are appointed by the governor and two are appointed by the General Assembly (one upon recommendation of the president pro tempore of the Senate and one upon the recommendation of the speaker of the House of Representatives). Members serve a six-year term except for the court of appeals judges who operate as the chair and vice-chair of the commission and serve at the pleasure of the chief justice.
The commission was established in 1973 to consider complaints against judges of the state’s general courts of justice and, where appropriate, to make recommendations for discipline. The commission also serves as the judicial ethics advisory committee with respect to the Code of Judicial Conduct and is authorized to provide formal and informal advisory opinions regarding application of the code to specific situations.
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 third quarter of 2023 are District 24H, composed of High Point, and District 40 composed of Buncombe County.
At its meeting on July 21, 2023, the State Bar Council adopted the following ethics opinion: 2023 Formal Ethics Opinion 2, Confidentiality Clause that Restricts a Lawyer’s Right to Practice (opinion rules that a confidentiality clause contained in a settlement agreement that restricts a lawyer’s ability to disclose publicly available information violates Rule 5.6). Additionally, the council voted to adopt a proposed amendment to Rule 1.8(e) of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct that creates a new exception to the general prohibition on providing financial assistance to a client in connection with pending or contemplating litigation. The amendment allows a lawyer to provide modest gifts for basic living expenses if a) the client is indigent, and b) the representation is pro bono (including representation of indigent clients through legal service organizations and law school clinics) or court-appointed, subject to certain conditions. The amendment will be sent to the Supreme Court for approval.
Ethics Committee Actions
At its meeting on July 20, 2023, the Ethics Committee considered eight matters, including the opinion and rule amendment noted above. Five inquiries were sent or returned to subcommittees for further study, including an inquiry addressing a lawyer’s ability to obligate a client’s estate to pay the lawyer for any time spent defending the lawyer’s work in drafting and executing the client’s will, an inquiry exploring a lawyer’s professional responsibility when using artificial intelligence in a law practice, and an inquiry concerning the permissibility of purchasing a law firm’s trade name as a keyword for advertising through an online search engine. Additionally, the committee approved the publication of a revised version of 2022 FEO 4, Billing Considerations for Overlapping Legal Services, which appears in the most recent edition of the State Bar Journal and on the State Bar’s website. The Ethics Committee welcomes feedback on the proposed opinion; feedback should be sent to email@example.com.
During the quarter, the Grievance Committee considered 166 files. The committee dismissed 115 files. Seventeen files were dismissed and retained. One file was continued. Three lawyers were referred to the Trust Accounting Compliance Program, one lawyer was referred to the Lawyer Assistance Program, six lawyers received letters of caution, six lawyers received letters of warning, six lawyers received admonitions, four lawyers received reprimands, one lawyer received a censure, and nine lawyers were referred to the Disciplinary Hearing Commission for trial.
Amendments Pending Approval by the Supreme Court
At its meeting on July 21, 2023, 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, visit the State Bar website.)
Board of Law Examiners: Proposed Amendments to Rules Governing Admission to the Practice of Law
Rules Governing Admission to the Practice of Law in the State of North Carolina
- Requirements for Military Spouse Comity Applicants
The rule amendment proposed by the North Carolina Board of Law Examiners eliminates the application fee for military spouse comity applicants.
Proposed Amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct
27 N.C.A.C.02, Section .0100, Client-Lawyer Relationship
- Rule 1.08 Conflict of Interest: Current Clients: Specific Rules
The amendment allows a lawyer to provide modest gifts to the client for basic living expenses, subject to certain conditions, if the lawyer is representing an indigent client pro bono, a court-appointed client, an indigent client pro bono through non-profit legal services or public interest organization, or an indigent client pro bono through a law school clinic or pro bono program.
Proposed Amendments to the Discipline and Disability Rules
27 N.C.A.C. 1B, Section .0100, Discipline and Disability of Attorneys
- Rule .0113, Proceedings Before the Grievance Committee
The amendment is a technical correction that clarifies that the procedure for refusing a letter of warning is distinct from the requirements for service of process of a letter of warning.
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
- Rule .1517, Exemptions
- Rule .1520, Requirements for Program Approval
- Rule .1522, Registered Sponsors
- Rule .1525, Professionalism Requirement for New Members (PNA)
The amendments make the following changes to the noted CLE rules: extend the existing exemption from CLE for members of the judiciary and judicial law clerks and add an exemption from CLE for lawyers who are full-time employees of the General Assembly; add an annual renewal fee for on-demand programs; create a Registered Sponsor status that can be granted by the CLE Board to sponsors that meet certain requirements; and limit the presentation of PNA programs to registered sponsors and judicial district bars approved by the board to offer such programs.
Proposed Amendments to the Rules Governing the Specialization Program
27 N.C.A.C. 1D, Section .1700, The Plan of Legal Specialization; Section .3400, Certification Standards for the Child Welfare Specialty
- Rule .1723, Revocation or Suspension of Certification of a Specialist
- Rule .1725, Areas of Specialty
- Rule .3407, Applicability of Other Requirements
The rule amendments clarify a specialist’s duty to report professional misconduct to the board and make technical corrections to rules relating to the new specialty in child welfare law.
Proposed Amendments Published for Comment
Also at its July meeting, the council voted to publish for comment the following proposed rule amendments:
Proposed Amendments to the Rules on the Duties of the Secretary
27 N.C.A.C. 01A, Election, Succession and Duties of Officers
- Rule .0406, Vacancies and Succession
- Rule .0411, Secretary
The proposed rule amendments that will permit the secretary of the State Bar to delegate ministerial tasks, such as the certification of copies of court records, to other State Bar employees.
Proposed Amendments to Rules Governing the Specialization Program
27 N.C.A.C. 01D, Section .3500, Certification Standards for the Employment Law Specialty
- Rules .3501 - .3507
The Board of Legal Specialization recommends the creation of a new specialty in employment law. The proposed rules, which are all new, establish the standards for the new specialty.
Filed Under: General News