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Friday, December 1, 2023


Katherine A. Frye of Raleigh was elected vice-president. Matthew W. Smith of Eden was elected president-elect. A. Todd Brown of Charlotte was installed as president.


The following retiring councilors were recognized:

  • Richard “Rich” J. Costanza - District 29, 2015-2023
  • Robert C. Kemp III- District 3, 2021-2023
  • John Webster - District 28, 2015-2023


The council set the amount of the annual dues for 2024 at $300 and approved an annual CLE attendance fee of $25. It also approved the schedule for other CLE fees recommended by the CLE Board as required to implement the newly adopted rules governing the CLE program.


The council approved the recommendation of the Client Security Fund Board of Trustees that there be no Client Security Fund assessment for 2024. This recommendation will be transmitted to the North Carolina Supreme Court.


The following appointments were made:

Board of Law Examiners – The council appointed Stephen C. Baynard to a three-year term on the board to complete the term of D. Clark Smith Jr. George R. Hicks III, Judge Ned W. Mangum, and Robert A. Askew were reappointed to three-year terms on the board.

Board of Continuing Legal Education – The council appointed Tiffany Cox to a three-year term. Paul Capua and Judge Ashleigh Parker were both reappointed to three-year terms.

Client Security Board of Trustees  The council appointed Richard Costanza to a five-year term on the board.

Board of Paralegal Certification – The council appointed Daryl Davidson (lawyer member), Robert Hasty Jr. (lawyer member), Shawana Almendarez (paralegal member), and Jennifer G. Smith-Sutphin (paralegal member) to three-year terms on the board.


Anyone interested in being appointed to serve on a State Bar board, commission, or committee may email to express that interest (being sure to attach a current resume), by January 6, 2024. The council will make the following appointments at its meeting in January:

Lawyer Assistance Program Board (three appointments; three-year terms) – There are three appointments to be made. Eben T. Rawls III (councilor member) is not eligible for reappointment. Shelli Buckner (volunteer member) and Timothy Carroll (clinician member) are eligible for reappointment.

The LAP Board 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 establishes policy related to the execution of the LAP mission and is responsible for oversight of the operation of the Lawyer Assistance Program subject to the statutes governing the practice of law, the authority of the council, and the rules of the board. The LAP Board meets during the regularly scheduled quarterly State Bar Council meetings.

North Carolina State Bar Foundation Board (two appointments; four-year terms) – There are two appointments to be made. Anthony diSanti and James K. Dorsett III, are not eligible for reappointment. The bylaws of the foundation require that all members of the board of directors must be past-presidents of the State Bar Council.

The Board of the North Carolina State Bar Foundation is composed of seven members, all of whom must be past-presidents of the North Carolina State Bar. The board oversees the sound investment of the assets of the Foundation for the purpose of generating income for the support of the maintenance and operation of the State Bar Building and for the support of the programs of the State Bar.

North Carolina Legal Education Assistance Foundation Board (NC LEAF) (two appointments; one-year term; no limit on consecutive terms) - William R. Purcell and James R. Grant are eligible for reappointment.

NC LEAF assists in the recruitment and retention of public interest attorneys by providing loan repayment assistance for law school debt. The NC LEAF Board consists of 18 members appointed by organizations set forth in the bylaws. The NC State Bar Council has one appointment to the board. The NC LEAF Board establishes policy related to the execution of the NC LEAF mission and is responsible for oversight of the operation of the program. The board meets once a year. The executive committee of the board meets more frequently.


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 2023 are District 3, composed of Pitt Couty, and District 10, composed of Wake County.


At its meeting on October 27, 2023, the State Bar Council adopted one ethics opinion: 2022 Formal Ethics Opinion 4, Billing Considerations for Overlapping Legal Services (opinion rules that a lawyer may provide services to multiple clients simultaneously and explores various billing structures for overlapping services).

At its meeting on October 26, 2023, the Ethics Committee considered six inquiries, including the opinion noted above. Two inquiries were returned to subcommittee for further study, including an inquiry exploring a lawyer’s professional responsibility when using artificial intelligence in a law practice and 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 concerning whether a lawyer-mediator may draft an agreement to participate in mediation between two pro se parties was withdrawn. The committee also approved the publication of two new proposed formal ethics opinions: Proposed 2023 Formal Ethics Opinion 3, Installation of Third Party’s Self-Service Kiosk in Lawyer’s Office and Inclusion of Lawyer in Third Party’s Advertising Efforts, and Proposed 2023 Formal Ethics Opinion 4, Use of a Lawyer’s Trade Name for Keyword Advertisements in an Internet Search Engine.


During the quarter, the Grievance Committee considered 272 files. The committee dismissed 227 files. Eight files were dismissed and retained. Three files were continued. Two lawyers were referred to the Trust Accounting Compliance Program, two lawyers received letters of caution, three lawyers received letters of warning, four lawyers received admonitions, two lawyers received reprimands, two lawyers received censures, and seven lawyers were referred to the Disciplinary Hearing Commission for trial.


Amendments Pending Approval by the Supreme Court 

At its meeting on October 27, 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.)

Amendments to 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 rule amendments 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.

Amendments to the Rules Governing the CLE Program

27 N.C.A.C. 01D, Section .1500, Rules Governing the Administration of the Continuing Legal Education Program

  • Rule .1501, Scope, Purpose, and Definitions

The amendments revise the definition of an ethics program and add a definition for a “Registered Sponsor.”

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, Standards for the Employment Law Specialty

The rules establish the standards for a new specialty certification in employment law.

Proposed Amendments Published for Comment 

At its meeting on October 27, 2023, the council voted to publish for comment the following proposed rule amendments:

Amendments to the Rules Governing the Authorized Practice Committee

27 N.C.A.C. 01D, Section .0200, Procedures for the Authorized Practice Committee

  • Rule .0201, General Provisions
    • Rule .0202, Procedure
    • Rule .0203, Definitions
    •  Rule .0204, State Bar Council - Powers and Duties
    •  Rule .0205, Chairperson of the Authorized Practice Committee - Powers and Duties
    •  Rule .0206, Authorized Practice Committee - Powers and Duties
    • Rule .0207, Counsel - Powers and Duties
    • Rule .0208, Suing for Injunctive Relief

The proposed amendments clarify the rules and ensure that the rules reflect the current procedures of the committee.

Amendments to the Procedures for Fee Dispute Resolution

27 N.C.A.C. 01D, Procedures for Fee Dispute Resolution

  • Rule .0708, Settlement Conference Procedure

The proposed amendments will permit multiple methods for service of process of a letter of notice on a fee dispute respondent.


The council also adopted a Resolution of Appreciation for Marcia H. Armstrong upon her completion of service as the North Carolina State Bar president.

Filed Under: General News

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