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Upcoming Events Hosted By The Young Lawyers Section
Scrubs v. Suits MD/JD Basketball Game, February 26: Help us raise money for a new play therapy room to expand the mental health services offered to children at the Mustard Seed by helping us defeat local doctors from the Greater Greensboro Society of Medicine in a basketball game. To sign up to be a basketball team member or to be a member of the spirit squad, please contact Lisa Arthur (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Greensboro 4ALL, March 3: The YLS and the Piedmont Triad Women Attorneys are taking over the 4:00pm-7:00pm volunteer block at 4ALL this year. To register, please sign up here: https://4all2017greensboro.eventbrite.com.
The NC Law School Consortium (a consortium of all NC law schools) presents two interview programs each year, one in Charlotte and one in Raleigh, each catering to employers in those areas of the state. Employers in the past have included private firms (25 or less attorneys), companies with in-house legal departments, public interest organizations, and associations. Employers recruit for summer interns and / or entry-level associates. Employers post their positions for all NC law school students’ consideration, select the students they wish to interview and interview them on the specific dates in Charlotte and Raleigh. The Western program will be held at Charlotte Law School on February 18 and the Eastern program will be held at the NC State Bar in Raleigh on February 25. For more information, please click here.
The office of the Clerk of Superior Court seeks four (4) qualified Attorneys to serve as Public Guardians for Guilford County. The Public Guardian serves the community by providing fiduciary services when property is discovered belonging to a minor or incompetent person without a guardian or when a person who is eligible to be guardian is unable or unwilling to serve. Pursuant to N.C.G.S.§ 35A, your responsibilities would include ascertaining and securing assets, income sources, benefits, and debts as well as filing proper inventories, petitions, and accountings with the Court. Interested persons should contact Lisa Johnson-Tonkins, Clerk of Superior Court, at (336) 412-7301.
Isaacson Isaacson Sheridan Fountain & Leftwich, LLP is pleased to announce Amanda P. Hodierne as partner in the firm.
Ms. Hodierne joined the firm in 2013, immediately after graduation from Wake Forest School of Law and admission to the North Carolina Bar. Since that time, she has handled various real estate, corporate and general matters while focusing her practice on all aspects of real property and land use law including commercial transactions, entitlements, financing and leasing. Prior to entering law school, Ms. Hodierne worked as an urban planner for the Town of Cary, the City of Raleigh and in the private sector for various developers. During that time she earned her designation as Certified Planner from the American Institute of Certified Planners and continues to put that knowledge base to use in her legal practice.
Ms. Hodierne is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association and the Greensboro Bar Association.
Hopefully by the time you read this, you will already have donated (or pledged a donation) and completed a volunteer form for our eighth Habitat for Humanity House. On the chance that you have not done so, both the 2017 Contribution Form and the 2017 Volunteer Form are available on the Greensboro Bar Association website. We also offer the option of donating online. Although your payment can be made either this year or by February 28, 2017, we need to obtain donations and commitments as soon as possible.
By Tom Kane (Reprinted from Tom’s LegalMarketingBlog.com dated January 25, 2017)
More than 10 years ago, I started talking about:
- considering alternatives to the billable hour;
- questioning the future of the billable hour; and,
- in 2007, raising a question of whether the billable hour was dead?
I now know that those posts were a “touch” premature. I’m not so sure they still are. I can confidently state that the “traditional” hourly billing is dead. According to the “2017 Report on the State of the Legal Market” by Georgetown Law’s Center for the Study of the Legal Profession and Thompson’s Reuters Legal Executive Institute, in many firms, AFAs (only 15-20% of revenues) and budget-based pricing “combined may well account for 80-90 percent of all revenues.”
The “widespread client insistence on budgets (with caps) for both transactional and litigation matters” over the past decade is the reason, according to the report. While firms may still keep track of their time on a billable hour basis, be assured that it is a different animal when it comes to invoices sent out. Debra Cassens Weiss’s take on the topic can be seen online at ABA Journal and is entitled “Billable hour pricing is effectively dead because of budget caps, report says.”
After discussing other significant changes to the legal profession over the past decade, the report concludes that “those firms that are most likely to survive and prosper in the new market environment are not necessarily the oldest or the strongest or the smartest, but rather those most able to adapt to the changes around them.” A good start would be to read the entire 17-page report.
Ten Greensboro attorneys from Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP have been selected by their peers as part of Business North Carolina’s 2017 Legal Elite. The Legal Elite awards are categorized into 14 legal and business-related categories and are compiled annually based upon a poll of North Carolina attorneys. The attorneys selected are considered by their peers to be the best practitioners in their respective fields.
The Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP attorneys honored as North Carolina Legal Elite are:
- E. Kent Auberry, Business
- Amber R. Duncan, Business
- Kimberly Bullock Gatling, Intellectual Property
- Gregory G. Holland, Litigation
- Neale T. Johnson, Construction
- Frankie T. Jones Jr., Real Estate
- Patrick M. Kane, Litigation and Young Guns
- Robert D. Kidwell, Business
- Alexander L. Maultsby, Employment
- Patti West Ramseur, Employment
- E. Garrett Walker, Real Estate
Let’s look ahead to see what the new year holds. Here are a few ideas about what’s hot and what’s not for 2017.
According to articles and surveys by many of the top legal staffing companies in the U.S., hot practice areas include healthcare, corporate transactional law, intellectual property (particularly pertaining to entertainment law) and technology law. There continues to be a rise in cyber practices including privacy issues and data breach response. In North Carolina, real estate practices, both residential and commercial, are booming.
At the 2016 annual meeting of the National Association of Bar Related Insurance Companies (NABRICO), several states reported the beginning of a shortage of lawyers because of retiring senior lawyers and lower law school admissions. Nationally, the unemployment rate for the employment sector that includes legal is 5.3% as reported by Special Counsel in December 2016.
In North Carolina, our over-supply of law schools and the very slow transition of senior lawyers means that it will take a little longer for us to experience a shrinking legal profession. As a result, many lawyers in North Carolina continue to experience unemployment or under-employment. We currently have more than 28,000 lawyers in North Carolina with more than a 1,000 candidates sitting for the bar exam each year.
Many experts expect to see a decline in the number of lawyers over the next ten years as more baby boomers transition out of practice coupled with the lower number of students applying to law school.
What does this mean for your firm? Strategic recruiting is important. If you have growth plans for your law firm or if you want to keep the status quo as senior lawyers retire, you need to have a growth plan in place. You should be working with the Career Services Department in our law schools, as well as connecting with legal recruiters. You should have a lawyer in your firm dedicated to strategic recruiting and they should have a list of recruiting tactics that include sponsoring events at the law school, participating in resume drops and student receptions, and offering internship or summer associate positions.
As senior lawyers begin to consider their next chapter, the idea of winding down a law practice (for a solo or small firm lawyer) or succession planning (for larger firms) becomes important. A well-developed succession plan should take a few years to work through, at least 18 months. Don’t wait until your best rainmaker announces a retirement date six months away before developing a succession plan.
As a solo lawyer, you should consider the idea that your law practice has value and there may be a market to sell your practice. Attend a “selling your law practice” program or talk with Tom Lenfestey with the Law Practice Exchange (www.thelawpracticeexchange.com) about buying or selling a law practice.
Changing Business Model.
A catchphrase for 2017 is be nimble. Adapt. Experiment with different options for your clients – a variety of ways to communicate, bill, and receive services – and see what your clients like. Many successful businesses experiment with their business model until they find what works best for them. Then they build on the model. Most law firms adopt a model that was built decades ago and they continue to operate the firm the same way, regardless of whether clients like it, employees like it, or associate attorneys like it. When the model ceases to provide results, there is no enthusiasm for building a new model.
The idea of a nimble workplace allows you to seek new ideas, collect input from your lawyers and staff and experiment with your clients. After putting an experiment in place, debrief about the process and results. Ask yourself three questions:
- What went well that we should keep doing?
- What didn’t go well that we should stop?
- What should we try next time?
Move to Digital.
This could be the year for you to move your practice to the cloud. You could also move to paperless. You don’t have to get rid of all paper or servers cold-turkey, but start the new year with scanned files, backed up to the cloud and encrypted. Move your email to the cloud with a program such as Microsoft 365 or Google Apps for Business. Joyce Brafford and Erik Mazzone at the Center for Practice Management with the North Carolina Bar Association are a great resource for technology tips, as well as referrals for technology solution providers.
There are many cloud-based practice management solutions available today. One North Carolina based success story is TrustBooks. Tom Boyle, a Raleigh CPA serving law firms, saw the need for a technology solution designed for legal. QuickBooks is a commonly used tool by small businesses, but lawyers have special needs created by the ethics rules. Tom’s solution was to build Trustbooks, a cloud-based software designed for solos and small firms and priced accordingly. Visit www.trustbooks.com for a free demo.
Importance of Data.
Managing your law firm requires you to know and use your data. Your accounting and billing software probably collects more data than you use. Use your new digital products to help you master the analytics that make your firm run. Keeping track and analyzing everything from hours on projects to costs of doing business will help you see the big picture of how healthy your law firm really is.
In recent years, artificial intelligence (A.I.) has made big strides. Many Baby Boomers spent our Saturday mornings watching the Jetson’s, a science fiction cartoon family, as they lived with a household robot and zoomed around in futuristic space cars. Many of us see IBM’s Watson computer as the most common evidence of artificial intelligence, but in fact, today, we experience artificial intelligence in our smart phones, our cars and our household appliances.
Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking called A.I. “the biggest event in human history.” Technology leaders such as Bill Gates and Elon Musk worry about a time when A.I. could become smarter than humans and whether that will cause it to become a threat rather than an opportunity.
A.I. will impact the profession for years to come not only through enhanced technology tools, but as lawyers sort the many legal issues that will arise over time.
Alternative Legal Service Providers.
While Legal Zoom might be the name we know best, Avvo has also launched their version of online legal services. There is more to say about online legal services than the scope of this article will allow, but for some insight visit Bob Ambrogi’s blog post, “Avvo CEO Says New Legal Forms Offering Will Help Steer Self-Help Consumers to Lawyers” – http://www.lawsitesblog.com/2016/04/avvo-ceo-discusses-new-legal-forms-offering.html. The post includes links to earlier posts, as well as comments by Avvo’s chief legal officer, Josh King.
The North Carolina State Bar Ethics Committee has a sub-committee studying Avvo’s online legal services and the North Carolina Bar Association has convened a task force to study the rapidly changing legal marketplace and how legal services are provided.
Many of these ideas can be discussed in more detail with Lawyers Mutual. Reach out for a strategic consulting session or to obtain practice guides and other risk management resources for succession planning, strategic recruiting and other practice management topics.
Camille Stell is the Vice President of Client Services for Lawyers Mutual. Continue this conversation by contacting Camille at email@example.com or 800.662.8843.
On December 27, 2016, the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) issued a rare “precedent” decision in Matter of Dhanasar, 26 I&N Dwec. 884 (AAO 2016). Gerard M. Chapman, principal at Chapman Law Firm, was counsel for Dr. Mookesh Dhanasar, the applicant, throughout most of his green card case and the entire appeal that resulted in the precedent decision. The AAO issues only a very limited number of such decisions, and in this case, it vacated the last precedent decision on National Interest Waiver (NIW) cases from 1998, Matter of New York State Dep’t of Transp., 22 I&N Dec. 215(Acting Assoc. Comm’r 1998) (“NYSDOT”).
In issuing its decision, the AAO confirmed that the test under NYSDOT was not appropriate for several reasons, and created a new standard that is more practical and likely to be useful for a wider range of applicants, including entrepreneurs, who typically have few, if any, avenues to immigrate to the US. Although the new standard under Dhanasar will be more user-friendly, under that new standard, USCIS (the agency that receives these cases initially) will demand proof of the following: the applicant’s proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance; the applicant is well-positioned to advance that endeavor; and on balance it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer and a labor certification application (the first step in a green card case).
The old NYSDOT standard demanded proof that still can be used in cases filed under Dhanasar, so much of the work in an NIW case will resemble the evidence gathered in pre-Dhanasar cases. At the same time, it is significant that the AAO decision contained a number of examples and cited several types of cases in which an NIW application could be approved. For years, petitioners have asked the AAO to replace the standard in NYSDOT, and in announcing the new Dhanasar standard, the AAO gave significant guidance to practitioners and to USCIS that it should be flexible and reasonable in its handling of NIW applications.
The most important aspect of the case is the likely expansion of approvals in NIW cases, which should allow applicants in business, entrepreneurialism, science, technology, culture, health, or education to submit approvable NIW applications. The flexibility of this decision reflects the need for USCIS to adjust to changing conditions in all of these areas, and the AAO should be commended for its vision in announcing the new Dhanasar standard.
Mr. Chapman has been an NC State Bar Board Certified Immigration Law Specialist since 1997, and currently serves as a member of the NC State Bar Immigration Specialization Committee.
On December 20, 2016, members of the GBA delivered approximately 200 books to students in the Neighborhood Leadership Program (NLP) at David D. Jones Elementary School. The NLP is designed to positively impact the academic and social lives of children growing up in Warnersville, the first organized African-American community in Greensboro. The success of this year’s GBA Elementary School Project was thanks to individuals who donated more than $1,300 in total and helped wrap the books at the GBA Holiday Party on December 14. As has been done in years past, the books were purchased through Jones Elementary’s Scholastic Book Fair, which sends 50 cents of every dollar spent back to the school in the form of funds that can be used to purchase new books for the school library and classrooms.
Remaining funds will be used to purchase books as gifts for all 99 fifth graders graduating from Jones Elementary this year in both the NLP and Spanish Immersion programs.
The GBA would like to thank the following individuals for their generosity in donating to the annual Elementary School Project:
- Michael R. Abel
- Jonathan S. Anderson
- Vance Barron, Jr.
- Joseph R. Beatty
- Barbara R. Christy
- Bob & Sally Cone
- Catherine Eagles
- W. Erwin Fuller, Jr.
- Kathleen A. Gleason
- A. Robinson & Eloise Hassell
- Patrice Hinnant
- Kenneth R. Keller
- Adam Kerr
- Henry B. Mangum, Jr.
- Barbara R. Morgenstern
- Erin D. Reis
- Michele G. Smith
- Norman B. Smith
- Donald K. Speckhard
- Theodora A. Vaporis
As reported by Fox 8 News, the shelves at Urban Ministry’s food pantry need to be restocked immediately. GBA members are encouraged to donate canned foods (like fruits and vegetables) and dried items (like beans and rice). Drop your food in the collection box located in GBA office copier room, Suite 815 of the Self Help Building, 122 N. Elm Street. Members of the Community Involvement Committee will deliver the food to Urban Ministry. Thank you!
Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP is pleased to announce that 23 of the firm’s attorneys in Greensboro were recognized in North Carolina Super Lawyers magazine for their high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Seven of those attorneys were recognized as Rising Stars.
Super Lawyers is an independent lawyer ranking service that selects attorneys using a rigorous, multi-phase rating process. Through peer nominations, evaluations and third party research, exceptional attorneys are selected within each state. Rising Stars are selected by peer nominations of attorneys who are 40 years old or younger, or have 10 years or less of legal experience.
The Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP attorneys honored in 2017 North Carolina Super Lawyers are:
- Lisa W. Arthur – Business Litigation (Rising Star)
- D. Erik Albright – General Litigation
- E. Kent Auberry – Business/Corporate
- Brian W. Byrd – Real Estate
- Richard A. Coughlin – Intellectual Property Litigation
- Julianna Theall Earp – Employment & Labor
- Carrie A. Hanger – Health Care (Rising Star)
- Terrill Johnson Harris – Health Care
- Gregory G. Holland – Antitrust Litigation
- Neale T. Johnson – Construction Litigation
- Frankie T. Jones Jr. – Real Estate (Rising Star)
- Patrick M. Kane – Civil Litigation: Defense (Rising Star)
- Allyson Jones Labban – Health Care (Rising Star)
- Alexander L. Maultsby – Employment & Labor
- Charles E. Melvin Jr. – Real Estate
- Maureen Demarest Murray – Health Care
- Kip D. Nelson – Intellectual Property (Rising Star)
- Whit Pierce – Intellectual Property Litigation (Rising Star)
- Patti West Ramseur – Employment & Labor
- D. Clark Smith – Business Litigation
- Thomas E. Terrell Jr. – Land Use/Zoning
- E. Garrett Walker – Real Estate
- Jeri L. Whitfield – Workers’ Compensation
LANC-BeerWine-Flyer-2017 (printable PDF)
As practicing attorneys, our professional life is regulated by the North Carolina State Bar. Our February meeting will feature presentations by our 18th Judicial District Bar Councilors, Barbara Christy and Steve Robertson.
The North Carolina State Bar is an agency of the State of North Carolina (N.C.G.S. §84-15) and is governed by councilors (N.C.G.S §84-17). As part of their governing responsibilities, the councilors regulate the professional conduct of licensed attorneys and certified paralegals (N.C.G.S. §84-23). This regulation includes admission to practice (N.C.G.S. §84-24) as well as discipline and disbarment (N.C.G.S. §84-28 et seq.).
The Council consists of 69 Councilors (5 officers, 61 Councilors elected by their respective judicial districts, and 3 non-attorney public members)(N.C.G.S. §84-17). Each of the 45 Judicial Districts is represented by at least one Councilor. An additional 16 Councilors are allocated among the districts every six years, based on the number of active members in the districts (N.C.G.S. §84-17). For example, the 10th District (Wake County) has 8 Councilors; the 26th District (Mecklenburg) has 7 Councilors.
To be eligible for election, a prospective councilor must be an active member of the North Carolina State Bar and must either reside in the district to be represented or have filed a written statement with the Secretary of the North Carolina State Bar that the member desires to vote in that district (N.C.G.S. §§ 16 & 18).
The Councilors are elected for three year annual terms beginning January 1 in the year following their election, and are limited to three successive three year terms, with no prohibition on the number of three year successive terms provided a three year period of nonservice intervenes in each instance (N.C.G.S. §84-18).
The fiscal and operating policies of the North Carolina State bar are set out in detail in a sixteen page publication available on the Bar’s website (http://www.ncbar.gov/media/376797/fiscal-policies.pdf). Although Councilors receive some compensation for time spent in attending meetings and for travel expense (N.C.G.S §84-20), service as a Councilor is just that: service.
Please plan to attend our meeting on the evening of February 16, 2017 at Starmount Forest Country club to hear the important work our Councilors are performing.
Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP is pleased to announce that Frankie T. Jones Jr. has been elected to the firm’s partnership effective January 1, 2017.
Jones primarily practices in the areas of real estate, land use and business law. Jones has been recognized by Business North Carolina magazine as a Legal Elite in real estate (2017) and corporate law (2014), by North Carolina Super Lawyers magazine as a Rising Star (2012, 2016), by North Carolina Lawyers Weekly as an Emerging Leader (2011) and by the Triad Business Journal as one of the 40 Leaders Under Forty (2010). He served and continues to serve on various alumni and community boards including the Davidson College Board of Visitors, the University of Virginia Law Alumni Council, the Piedmont Triad Regional Water Authority Board of Directors, the Greensboro ABC Board, and was recently elected as chairman of the Guilford County Planning Board. He earned his undergraduate degree from Davidson College and his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law.
The 2016 Centennial Award for outstanding and exemplary community service was presented to John M. Cross, Jr. on January 19 at the GBA member meeting. John is a seasoned corporate attorney with the Brooks Pierce firm. His community service in Greensboro began with this Bar Association in the Young Lawyers Section, where he participated in community service projects and later served on the section’s board. John became Chair of that Section in 1999-2000. He was also a member of the Greensboro Board of Adjustment for six years, serving as its Chairman in 2008-09. He has long supported the United Way, serving as campaign coordinator, on the board of Directors and as Chairman in 2010-11. John supported the Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, where he volunteered and served on the camp’s board for 10 years. John has also supported the Greensboro Children’s Museum, serving in every leadership capacity. John is currently on the Boards of the Cone Health Foundation and the National Conference for Community and Justice of the Piedmont Triad (NCCJ), and he served as Board chair of NCCJ during 2015-16. We are pleased to recognize John Cross for his service to our community.