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Tuesday, May 14, 2024


At its meeting on April 19, 2024, the council made the following appointments:

Disciplinary Hearing Commission – The council reappointed William Oden of Wilmington to a second three-year term. Catherine L. Constantinou of Durham and Katherine Hardersen King of Raleigh were appointed to three-year terms.

North Carolina Legal Education Assistance Fund (NC LEAF) – Having amended its bylaws to create three-year terms for board members, the NC LEAF Board requested the termination of the one-year terms of William R. Purcell and James R. Grant (appointed at the January 2024 Quarterly Meeting) effective June 30, 2024, and their subsequent appointment to three-year terms commencing July 1, 2024. The council approved the requests of the NC LEAF Board.


The council will make the following appointments at its July meeting:

Disciplinary Hearing Commission – There is one lawyer appointment to be made to complete the term of Margaret M. Hunt, who resigned from the DHC on April 10, 2024. The term expires on June 30, 2025. The lawyer appointed to complete this term is eligible to serve two additional three-year terms.

The Disciplinary Hearing Commission (DHC) is an independent adjudicatory body that hears all contested disciplinary cases. It is composed of 18 North Carolina lawyers. Twelve of the lawyers are appointed by the State Bar Council; two are appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the president pro tempore of the Senate; two are appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of speaker of the House; and two are appointed by the chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. The eight public members of the DHC are appointed by the governor and the General Assembly: four are appointed by the governor; two are appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the president pro tempore of the Senate; and two are appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of speaker of the House. The DHC sits in panels of three: two lawyers and one public member. In addition to disciplinary cases, the DHC hears cases involving contested allegations that a lawyer is disabled and petitions from disbarred and suspended lawyers seeking reinstatement.

Board of Legal Specialization (three-year terms) – There are four appointments to be made. Gina Cammarano (workers’ compensation law specialist) and Barbara R. Morgenstern (family law specialist) are eligible for reappointment. Jan E. Pritchett (chair; criminal law specialist) and Patricia Head (public member) are not eligible for reappointment. The rules governing the Board of Legal Specialization require the council to appoint the board’s chair and vice-chair annually.

The Board of Legal Specialization is a nine-member board comprised of six lawyers (at least one of whom cannot be a board-certified specialist) and three public members. The board establishes policy related to the execution of the specialization 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 specialization board meets four times a year.

The specialization program assists in the delivery of legal services to the public by identifying to the public those lawyers who have demonstrated special knowledge, skill, and proficiency in a specific field and seeks to improve the competency of members of the bar by establishing an additional incentive for lawyers to participate in continuing legal education and to meet the other requirements of specialization

IOLTA Board of Trustees (three-year terms) – There are three appointments to be made. Theodore C. Edwards, Sharika Richardson Shropshire, and Jacob Kyle Smith are all eligible for reappointment at the July meeting. Appointments for the chair and vice-chair of NC IOLTA will also be made at the July meeting.

The IOLTA Board of Trustees is a nine-member board comprised of at least six North Carolina lawyers. The board establishes policy related to the execution of IOLTA’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 IOLTA Board usually meets three times per year—April, September, and December—with periodic meetings scheduled in between as needed. NC IOLTA is a non-profit program created by the NC State Bar that works with lawyers and banks across the state to collect net interest income generated from lawyers’ general, pooled trust accounts for the purpose of funding grants to providers of civil legal services for the indigent and programs that further the administration of justice.

Anyone interested in being appointed to any of the boards, commissions, or committees listed above should send a resume and interest letter to Lanice Heidbrink no later than July 1, 2024.


Lawyers are selected for random audit based upon a randomized list of all active members of the North Carolina State Bar who practice in the state. Audits for the second quarter of 2024 will be conducted in Beaufort, Cherokee, Cleveland, Craven, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Franklin, Haywood, Hyde, Johnston, Macon, Mecklenburg, Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Pitt, Wake, and Watauga Counties. 


The State Bar Council did not adopt any new ethics opinions this quarter.

At its meeting on April 18, 2024, the Ethics Committee considered a total of eight inquiries. Six inquiries were sent or returned to subcommittee for further study, including an inquiry examining the ethical requirements relating to a lawyer’s departure from a law firm 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. Additionally, in January 2024, the Ethics Committee published Proposed 2024 Formal Ethics Opinion 1, Use of Artificial Intelligence in a Law Practice; based on comment received during publication, the committee voted to return the inquiry to subcommittee for further study. The committee also approved an advisory opinion concerning a lawyer’s professional responsibility when inheriting a client file containing confidential information, and the committee approved the publication of one proposed formal ethics opinion for comment: Proposed 2023 Formal Ethics Opinion 3, Installation of Third Party’s Self-Service Kiosk in Lawyer’s Office. The opinion will be published in the upcoming edition of the State Bar Journal and on the State Bar’s website. Comments on the opinion can be sent to


During the quarter, the Grievance Committee considered 277 files. The committee dismissed 244 files. One file was denied reconsideration. Three files were deferred. Nine files involving six lawyers were referred for trial before the Disciplinary Hearing Commission. Five lawyers were referred to the Trust Accounting Compliance Program. Five files were dismissed with letters of caution and five files were dismissed with letters of warning. The committee authorized a reprimand in one file and censures in four files.


Proposed Amendments Published for Comment

At its April meeting, the council voted to publish for comment the following proposed rule amendments:

Amendments to the Procedures for the Administrative Committee

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

  • Rule .0901, Transfer to Inactive Status

The amendments create a process for members to transfer directly from administrative suspension status to inactive status. They also update the requirements for transfer from active status to inactive status.

Amendments to the Disciplinary Rules on the Trust Account Compliance Program (TAC Program) and the Random Audit Program

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

  • Rule .0112, Investigation; Initial Determination; Notice and Response; Committee Referrals
  • Rule .0132, Trust Accounts; Audit

The amendments facilitate the deferral of grievances to the TAC Program and the referral of lawyers to the TAC Program following a deficient random trust account audit.

The State Bar welcomes your comments regarding proposed amendments to the rules. Please send your written comments to Alice Neece Mine, The North Carolina State Bar, PO Box 25908, Raleigh, NC 27611, or

Filed Under: General News

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