Even though my term as one of the two North Carolina State Bar Councilors does not begin until January 1st, 2022, I wanted to share information with our Bar about the North Carolina State Bar Council and the role the Council represents for the lawyers of North Carolina.
So, what does the N.C. State Bar Council do anyways???
The North Carolina State Bar Council (NCSB Council) is vested with the governance of the North Carolina State Bar (N.C.G.S. §84, Article 4). Article 4 of Chapter 84 outlines the purpose, structure, and governance of Attorneys-At-Law in North Carolina, which we so commonly refer to the ‘State Bar.’ Simply put, the NCSB Council governs the State Bar, which in turn regulates the legal profession. Additionally, the NCSB is subject to Title 27 of the North Carolina Administrative Code (NCAC), in particular Chapter 1, which sets forth the Rules and Regulations of the North Carolina State Bar. The NCAC is pretty lengthy but breaks down the organization of the NCSB and further sets forth the term lengths and election of the Councilor(s) from each Judicial District (JD) in North Carolina in addition to the High Point Superior Court division (commonly known as the 24H Judicial District).
The NCSB Council is comprised of one elected Councilor from each Judicial District plus sixteen (16) additional Councilors. Where do the remaining sixteen Councilors come from you may ask? Every six years, the additional Councilors are allocated to each of the 44 JDs based on the actual population of lawyers in each district as that number relates to the total active NCSB members. Another interesting point is that the NCSB Council also includes three non-lawyer members who are appointed by the Governor.
N.C.G.S. §84-23 describes the governing powers of the Council- in essence, the Council regulates the professional conduct of licensed lawyers and North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegals. More specifically, the Council has the following responsibilities that are shared amongst a number of committees:
- Ensure competence of lawyers and certified paralegals.
- Formulate and adopt the rules of professional ethics and conduct.
- Investigate and prosecute issues of professional misconduct.
- Grant or deny petitions for reinstatement of licenses to practice law.
- Resolve questions regarding membership in the NCSB.
- Arbitrate fee disputes over legal fees.
- Regulate and the certification of legal assistants and paralegals as well as administer exams for certification.
- Determine members who may be disabled.
- Maintain a list or “registry” of interstate or international law firms who do business in North Carolina.
A ‘catch-all’ provision is included within this particular statute to allow the Council to act in a manner necessary to further the purpose of Article 4 that is not otherwise illegal.
In the next installment of Councilor’s Corner in February 2022, look out for an update from the 2022 First Quarter State Bar Council meeting held from January 19th through 21st, 2022 as well as a breakdown of the role of the elected Councilor in their particular district and on the Council. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions at [email protected] in the meantime!