Specialized Lawyer Directories: Get Listed and Get Found

cloninger.brian  by R. Brian Cloninger

 

Today’s post covers improvements that have been made to the NCAJ Specialized Directories.

I always ask clients how they got my name. By far the most frequent answer is they found me online doing a Google search. Until recently, none of my clients found me using the NCAJ Traffic Referral List. Why are they able to find me (and other lawyers listed in the Specialized Directories) now? Keep reading for the answer, to learn why you should update your profile, and why you should get added to the directories, if eligible.

A week or so after NCAJ’s Annual Convention, I contacted Membership and Development Director Amy Smith to suggest changes to our membership profiles and the referral directories that would add a marketing benefit for NCAJ membership. She sent me a recent Trial Smith (aka MemberCentral) post entitled, “We’ve Enhanced SEO with Store, SeminarWeb, Events, and Blog Posts.” The single sentence post read: “New HTML Title Tags are now automatically inserted into pages making Store Items, SeminarWeb Programs, Events and Blog Posts not only more browser friendly for end-users, but also more search engine friendly, including more accurately titled search results in search engines.”

After I looked up the meaning of “SEO” and “HTML,” I started messing around on the NCAJ website and doing some Google searches. The improvements I suggested had already been made without me realizing it. I found myself.

Many of us have used the listserves to request referrals rather than using the NCAJ Specialized Directories. Now, we don’t have to use the listserve for that anymore. Even better, the public can now find NCAJ members easier using the directories or by simply doing a Google search.

All NCAJ members are listed in the Membership Directory. There is also a Bilingual Referral Directory (ncaj.com/bilingual). Listing in other Specialized Directories is only available to members of the Section. For example, listing in the Traffic Referral Directory (ncaj.com/traffic) is a benefit of membership in the Criminal Defense Section. These directories are accessible to NCAJ members and to the public. You must be a member of NCAJ to access the Products Liability and Construction Defects Section Directory (ncaj.com/products), and must be a member of the Section to be listed.

Update your profile (ncaj.com/updateprofile) to get added to the Specialized Directories, and get found!

 

 

Advertisements

NCAJ Members Protect North Carolinians Many Different Ways

robby jessup  by Robby Jessup

 

NCAJ attorneys and other NCAJ legal professionals offer relief and protection to citizens who have been harmed.

For example, NCAJ’s July Trial Briefs magazine’s Verdicts, Settlements and Dispositions Column describes a dog bite case win;  a win pertaining to the constitutional rights of public employees; a verdict for an elderly couple’s mental anguish against a home healthcare company; an appellate victory for workers’ compensation claimants; a second-degree verdict for a client facing first degree murder (Life Without Parole); a jury verdict for compensatory damages for the negligent handling of human remains; a settlement for a wrongful death of a motorcyclist and other auto accident verdicts.

Congratulations to all attorneys highlighted in the column:  Alex Woodyard of the Law Offices of William K. Goldfarb; Luke Largess and Cheyenne Chambers of Tin Fulton Walker & Owen, PLLC; Jeremy Wilson of Ward & Smith, P.A.; Wade Byrd of the Law Offices of Wade E. Byrd, P.A; Bradley Smith of Campbell & Associates; Charles Hinnant and Dr. Ted Greve of Ted A. Greve & Associates; Assistant Public Defenders Matthew Geoffrion and Taplie Coile; James Rogers of James E Rogers, PA; and Robby Jessup and Joan Davis of Howard Stallings Law Firm.

Click image below to read full article

verdicts settlement dispositions column july 2018_Page_1

 

NCAJ to Host Mountain Magic 2018 from Oct 18 to Oct 21 in Asheville, NC

NCAJ’s annual fall conference in Asheville, NC will again be held at the beautiful Omni Grove Park Inn.   The conference is one of NCAJ’s most anticipated events featuring nationally recognized speakers and attendees from across the state!

Take advantage of NCAJ’s group rate of $355/night by calling the Omni Grove Park Inn at 1-800-438-5800 or click here to reserve your room online.

Program chairs Jon Moore of Brown Moore & Associates in Charlotte and Valerie Pearce, IDS Regional Defender in Durham are leading NCAJ in finalizing all other details surrounding the conference’s terrific professional development programming and networking opportunities.  Sneak peek below!!  Please check back at ncaj.com/mountainmagic  for complete event details soon.

Interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at this popular event?  Contact Membership and Development Director Amy Smith  at amy@ncaj.com.

SNEAK PEEK PREVIEW :

THURSDAY, October 18

5:30 pm – 7:00 pm          Welcome to Mountain Magic @ Lexington Avenue Brewery – Sponsored by FindLaw, a Thompson Reuters business     Complimentary for Mountain Magic attendees, Fall Conference for Paralegals attendees and Asheville area legal professionals.

FRIDAY, October 19

8:45 am – 9:00 am           Welcoming Remarks – Mountain Magic Co-Chairs
                                                Jon Moore,
Brown Moore & Associates, Charlotte
                                                Valerie Pearce, IDS Regional Defender, Durham

8:55 am – 4:45 pm           Fall Conference for Paralegals

 9:00 am – 12:15 pm        GENERAL SESSION (for Civil and Criminal Practitioners)

Featured Speaker –Theodore J. Leopold, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, Palm Beach Gardens, FL

“Do’s and Don’ts at the Court of Appeals”
Featured Speakers – Judge Mark A. Davis,
NC Court of Appeals, Raleigh and Judge Donna S. Stroud, NC Court of Appeals, Raleigh

12:15 pm – 1:30 pm        Mountain Magic Luncheon and Presentation  – Sponsored by Lawyers Mutual Liability Insurance Co. of North Carolina

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm          Sunset Social at the Omni Grove Park Inn & Spa – Sponsored by Robson Forensic   Catch up with old friends and make new friends before dinner in Asheville. Includes light hors d’oeuvres and drinks on the Vanderbilt Terrace

SATURDAY, October 20

9:00 am – 12:15 pm        GENERAL SESSION (for Civil and Criminal Practitioners)
“Leaders of Tomorrow – Moving Juries and Other Gatherings of People to Greatness”
Featured Speaker – Mel C. Orchard, III,
The Spence Law Firm, LLC, Jackson, WY

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm          Substance Abuse Hour

6:00 pm – 9:00 pm          Saturday Night Party at Smoky Park Supper Club – Sponsored by Milner Plaintiff Service/Millennium Settlements  Join us along the majestic French Broad River for dinner, dancing and fun! We will have a fantastic band providing live music during dinner. This is always one of the highlights of Mountain Magic and a great way to spend time with friends from near and far one last time, before heading home!   This is a family-friendly event, complimentary for Mountain Magic attendees and guest.

Saturday Night Party Band – Sponsored by Teddy, Meekins & Talbert, Attorneys at Law

SUNDAY, October 21

8:30 am – 12:30 pm        NCAJ Board of Governors Meeting

Part 2: The Educators

by Bradley Bannon, NCAJ President

By now, even if you haven’t seen it, it’s hard to imagine you haven’t at least heard of the movie “Black Panther.” In four months this year, it became the ninth highest grossing movie of all time. The fact that it’s a superhero movie was unremarkable. The fact that the superhero was an African man, whose three strongest and closest allies in the movie were all African women, each with different areas of skill and expertise, was unprecedented.

“Half the battle is getting that kind of imagery made,” Rafe Chisolm told SF Gate. “Lots of kids never see anyone who looks like them in that kind of light.” Chisolm made sure that lots of them did, by organizing screenings for them in their home town of Oakland, California—a key location in the plot of the movie.

I’d learned a similar lesson about imagery while working with Karonnie Truzy and Sarah Olson in their roles as Co-Chairs of NCAJ’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force (DITF).

Karonnie, who also serves as the organization’s inaugural Diversity Officer and is receiving an Ebbie Award this year for his years of service to the NCAJ and its mission, told me about how he had to be contacted several times about becoming more involved in the organization before he finally agreed. Why the initial reluctance? Because he hadn’t really seen anyone else who looked like him in leadership, or behind the podium at the front of the rooms where most of our members regularly convene: our CLEs.

Sarah, who also serves as the Criminal Defense Section Chair this year and previously received an Ebbie herself, spoke more bluntly about the impact of imagery at that podium: “When you are a woman, and you attend CLEs where every single faculty member is a man, it raises real concerns about the role of women in the organization and how women are viewed by the organization.”

This makes perfect sense. It’s not as if our profession is devoid of women and people of color who are highly qualified to teach our CLE programs. So when you don’t see them at the podium, and when you are one of them, you may quite naturally wonder whether there’s much of a role for you in the organization and its CLE programming, beyond paying for admission of course. And the more you’re made to wonder that, the more likely you are to seek other professional communities and programs where you feel more welcome.

In recent years, NCAJ leadership has recognized shifting sands in our population, profession, and organization. In 2015-2016, NCAJ President Chris Nichols highlighted the need to attract Millennials, who by that time had already surpassed Baby Boomers in the workforce. In 2016-2017, President Bill Powers recognized the need to focus more intentionally on diversity in our membership and leadership. This year, I have built on both of those initiatives by developing a more formal organizational framework to connect with the state’s law schools and students.

NCAJ’s effort to reach Millennials and tap into the law school pipeline is no more designed to exclude or devalue our members of other generations (like me) than its effort to strengthen diversity and see more women and people of color behind CLE podiums is designed to exclude or devalue members of any other categorical group (like me). Quite the contrary, it’s all designed to recognize an undeniable truth: there is strength in numbers.

The pragmatic side of that truth is that NCAJ must expand and cultivate a broad membership base to survive and successfully pursue our mission in an evolving profession. The aspirational side of that truth is what we recognized when we adopted our Diversity Statement last year. And both sides are served by putting people behind the podium in our CLEs who are not only qualified, but reflect all members of our profession and organization.

That is why, after publication for comment, the Board of Governors adopted a Diversity Plan last fall that included an initial goal of developing and implementing a Speaker Diversity Program. Working with DITF membership and leadership, as well as Education Committee members and Vice President Meghann Burke, NCAJ Executive Director Kim Crouch and Education Director Alex Rogers developed an infrastructure of member tools and staff support to assist CLE planners in achieving more speaker diversity.

We now have a Speaker Diversity Database, and our staff will be working with members to build that database over the months and years to come into a powerful resource for helping program planners identify qualified presenters. We have created a checklist for planners, highlighting the speaker diversity goal. We have begun to collect and analyze data on a quarterly basis about the extent to which we achieve the goal and the factors involved in that success. We are working more closely with Section and Division Chairs to identify speakers at the Section levels. Membership Vice President Sonya Pfeiffer has been working with Membership and Development Director Amy Page Smith to establish and renew our connections to affiliate organizations and affinity bars.

These institutionalized efforts are long overdue. NCAJ did not suddenly begin to value the worth and dignity of all of our clients and members when we adopted the Diversity Statement and crafted the Diversity Plan last year. We just became more intentional about weaving that valuation into the fabric of our entire organization. In terms of institutionalizing the efforts, we are either shoulder-to-shoulder with or trailing other professional organizations. This point was brought home to me in March, when, in my capacity as NCAJ President, I accepted an invitation from Dayatra Matthews, the first African-American female President of the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys, to attend NCADA’s first day-long program focused on identifying and addressing white privilege and implicit bias, two loaded terms I wrote about coming to terms with myself in this space last week. Fortunately, nothing but good can come from our institutionalized efforts, and everything about them is who we are and need to be.

Specifically regarding the Speaker Diversity Program, we have recognized the reality that the educators at our CLE programs are not just teaching attendees about the substance of their presentations, but about the substance of who we are and who we value as an organization. Because #WeAreNCAJ, we value everyone who shares our mission—from our clients, to our members, to our leaders, to our educators. Since that’s the substance of who we are, it should certainly be the imagery we project.

And, of course, #WakandaForever.

Part 1: The Insider

by Bradley Bannon, NCAJ President

Like many of you, I watched in horror last summer as the convergence of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, culminated with the martyrdom of paralegal Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old counter-protester who was made to pay for her commitment to equality with her life.

In the aftermath, I also watched in horror as the President of the United States made equivocal remarks that put Heather and her anti-racist group on the same moral plane as the group of racists they showed up to counter-protest.

Earlier in the year, before those events became another example of a racial divide that has plagued our state and country since birth, I had decided to dig deeper into the modern perpetrators of that divide—the ones less obvious than a bunch of neo-Nazis having a tiki torch parade.

That’s when I started to understand what is meant by “white privilege.” I’d heard that term many times before and received it as an insult, loaded with the implication that, as a white man, I didn’t really deserve any of the fruits of my hard work—or, more to the point, that my work wasn’t really that hard to begin with.

I felt similarly about the term “implicit bias.” For as long as I could remember—from shutting down racist jokes on the playground as a kid, to fighting for the rights of the accused in a criminal justice system infected at every level with disparate treatment of people based on race and ethnicity—there was not an ounce of racial bias in my body, implicit or otherwise.

So when I started to look further into the divide, and what could be done to reduce it, I started in a defensive posture. Fortunately, my defensiveness soon yielded to something even more powerful: my appreciation for facts and intellectual honesty.

I took Harvard’s Implicit Association Test on Race and learned that, in the corners of my mind I can’t control, I have a strong preference for white people over black people. I attended the Racial Equity Institute’s two-day Phase I workshop, sponsored by Organizing Against Racism. I started doing some suggested reading: “The New Jim Crow,” by Michelle Alexander; “Slave by Another Name,” by Douglas Blackmon; “Blind Spot: The Hidden Biases of Good People,” by Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald; and others.

I learned that it takes only a little bit of genuine curiosity to understand how racism in our country and its institutions is like any other virus: it has constantly changed forms to survive and thrive. And it has infected systems built up over hundreds of years in the United States. Banking systems. Employment systems. Housing systems. Retail systems. Voting systems.

Justice systems.

It’s not hard for an open mind to accept the fact that systems of gender and racial preference, invented and expanded by white men over centuries in which they were favored in law and fact, would continue in the present day to greatly benefit white men, in practice if not by actual design.

The preferences are so ingrained in our culture, I realized, that I could subconsciously perpetuate them even as I consciously abhorred them. And once I got past my initial defensiveness about that dichotomy, I chose to receive that knowledge as a gift and a call to action.

No single person created these preferential systems. No single generation did it. And no single person or generation will be able to undo it. But as a white man, I know I am valuably positioned to push back against them. I am, after all, an insider.

That does not make me the creator of the problem, but it makes me a perpetuator of it if I deny it, or ignore it, or allow my knee-jerk reaction to loaded terms like “white privilege” and “implicit bias” prevent me from recognizing the undeniable truths beneath them. And doing something about it.

Like many who have chosen to stand as guardian of the injured and the accused, I feel called to change myself, this country, and its systems for the better. In my day job, I have recently pivoted toward civil rights work, but I continue to represent people accused and convicted of crimes, in a system that was originally designed and has always been used to control, disenfranchise, and marginalize people of color. In my volunteer work, I have used my position and privilege as a leader in NCAJ to fight for greater equality and fairness in the criminal and civil justice systems.

This past year, with the honor of the NCAJ presidency, I have focused on diversity, inclusion, and equity within the organization, so that it may further serve and strengthen its mission of protecting people’s rights—regardless of race, ethnicity, gender (including gender identity), sexual orientation, disability, religion, nationality, socioeconomic status, or any other categorization.

I’m not doing these things because I overestimate my importance or influence. Or because I think the traditionally marginalized are incapable of successfully pushing back and gaining ground.

I’m doing it because I should. Because I want to be who I think I am. Because I want this country to be what I always hoped it would be. And because I want everyone to have the same shot—in this nation, state, profession, and organization—that I did by accident of gender and the color of my skin.

Since it began in the 1960s, NCAJ has moved the legal systems of North Carolina closer to that goal, but we have more work to do. And that work starts with any effort that hopes to succeed, and something that NCAJ has been quite good at over the last half-century:

Education.

Click here to read Part 2 of this series, ‘The Educators.

 

Top Ten Reasons to Join Today

2018_Membership_Top-Ten-2

Now is a fantastic time to join the North Carolina Advocates for Justice:   You are eligible to get 14 months of membership for the price of 12!!  

Here are 10 additional reasons to join us today:

  1. Free access to the NC Pattern Jury Instructions (civil and criminal).
  2. Free monthly membership webinars on how to grow your business.
  3. Discounted subscription to NC Lawyers Weekly – a $115 savings!
  4. Deep discounts on outstanding NCAJ CLE in a variety of formats including Live Webcasts, Live Webinars, OnDemand CLE, and Live In-Person Seminars.
  5. NCAJ invites you to Convention and Mountain Magic – the best way to meet and learn from like-minded professionals from across the State and to rest and rejuvenate.
  6. Your membership includes NCAJ’s legal publication, Trial Briefs, delivered quarterly to your inbox and your mailbox.
  7. NCAJ gives you another way to additionally protect your clients by get involved with NCAJ’s legislative activities.    
  8. NCAJ promotes you, your firm and your work to the public and to your peers through referral directories, social media and NCAJ.com. We are unveiling exciting new ways to do this next year, including through member profiles in Trial Briefs, the NCAJ blog, hosted pro bono clinics and more!
  9. NCAJ membership is your gateway to joining NCAJ Sections and Divisions and their listservs to learn from some of the most talented legal minds in North Carolina.
  10. You become a valued part of the ONLY group in North Carolina devoted to supporting plaintiff attorneys, criminal defense attorneys, and professional legal staff in their careers and to improving the legal environment you work in.

Join the NC Advocates for Justice today at ncaj.com/join

Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury After Injury

When a person is injured in a car wreck, motorcycle wreck, or other personal injury, sometimes the most harmful injuries are those that you cannot see with the naked eye:  a brain injury.  Sometimes brain injuries are obvious and an injured person’s functioning is so impaired that they are left unable to speak, walk, or feed themselves.  Other times, the brain injury is subtler.  Called a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) , these injuries can be as devastating as a spinal cord injury or any other serious injury.  However, because the injured person may “look” normal, it can be more difficult to recover compensation for these types of cases.

Brain Anatomy

The human brain is the most complex and sensitive organ in the body.  Weighing only about 3 lbs., the brain is the essence of what makes a person who they are.    There are several parts to the brain, and each part has its own function.  The three (3) main parts are the cerebrum, cerebellum and the brain stem.  The brain stem is located at the base of the brain and contains the midbrain, pons and medulla.  This section of the brain is responsible for automatic body functions such as breathing, heart rate, digestion, and regulating body temperature.  It also serves as a relay system between the rest of the brain and the central nervous system.  An injury to this area of the brain usually is catastrophic and results in death.

The cerebellum is above the brain stem and it coordinates muscle movements and balance.

The largest part of the brain is the cerebrum and is divided into right and left hemispheres.  This part of the brain is associated with higher brain function including thinking, memory, and emotion.  It is filled with approximately 100 billion neurons which are elongated nerve cells that transmit signals to each other through electrical and chemical signals.  The communication between these cells enable us to think, have emotion, react to stimuli, and remember.  These cells are very small, about 30,000 neurons can fit on the head of a pin, and can only be observed under strong microscopes.

The brain has the consistency of firm jelly.  It floats in fluid, called cerebra spinal fluid, which acts as a shock absorber.  It is also surrounded by protective tissue called meninges.  Outside of the meninges, the brain is surrounded by the skull.

Injury

Despite its protective coating, the brain can suffer injury when the head suffers a blow or the head is thrown forward and backward quickly, as can happen in a car wreck.  The brain is subject to the same laws of physics as everything else, and when a person is in a car wreck at 45 mph and comes to a sudden and violent stop, the brain continues its motion until it, too stops, by striking the inside of the skull.

When the brain impacts the skull, a mild traumatic brain injury can occur.  Some of those billions of neurons can be damaged, the axons of the nerve cell can be bent or broken, and the ability of the brain cells to “talk to” each other can become impaired.  When this type of injury happens, the person may have difficulty talking, remembering information, or controlling emotions.

Symptoms

Each brain injury is unique.  Like a fingerprint, as each person has a unique brain, each person’s symptoms of and reaction to a mTBI is different.  However, some common symptoms include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seeing stars
  • Confusion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to Light/ Noise
  • Blurred vision
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of sense of smell

Symptoms that might manifest themselves at a later date include:

  • Difficulty following conversations
  • Struggling to find the right word
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty with short term memory
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Lashing out and yelling at family members
  • Withdrawal and disengaging from social situations and friends and family

Why can’t we see a mTBI on an x-ray, CT scan or MRI?

X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs are very good tools at getting a picture of the human body.  Think of these tools as good digital cameras taking pictures of inside of the body.  They can spot diseases, broken bones, and internal organ damage.  They help doctors see inside a patient’s body without having to cut open the body and look for themselves.

What these tools cannot do, however, is see the body’s cells up close.  Instead of the digital camera, due to the very small size of neurons, a doctor needs a microscope, and a very powerful microscope at that.  Because we cannot take brain cells out of the brain and look at them under a microscope, mTBI cannot currently be diagnosed with scans or blood testing on a living patient.     Researchers are working on ways to find mTBI by blood testing, by tracing protein levels (Tau proteins), but this research is still in development and not available to the public.

Recovery

The outcome of a person who suffers a mild traumatic brain injury can be difficult to predict.  As each brain injury is different and unique, a person’s ability to recover is unique.  However, certain factors can make a good recovery more likely.  Younger individuals, for example, are more likely to recover from brain injury than older individuals.  Obtaining therapies from a qualified speech therapist can also help.  An injured patient is also more likely to recover if they obtain competent medical care following their accident.  Many people make a full recovery.  However, some injured people do not.  Doctors predict that most of an injured person’s recovery from a mild traumatic brain injury will occur within the first year after the accident.  After that point, recovery is not as certain.  Additionally, persons suffering from mTBI are at higher risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

Summary

Many people who suffer from mild traumatic brain injury look normal at first glance.  However, although the injury may be invisible to the casual observer, it is very real.  Injured persons need our support and encouragement.  With time and luck, they may return to a functioning level.  For those that do not, the injured person needs the best care medicine can provide and our compassion.

 

Ruth Smith is a dedicated trial lawyer in Asheville, NC representing people since 1999.  She focuses her practice in Personal Injury, Car Accidents, Social Security Disability, Workers’ Compensation and Dog Bite Injuries. She is a member of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice’s Auto Torts and Workers’ Compensation Sections and is a certified North Carolina Court Mediator. For more information, visit www.mywncattorney.com.