Ten Practice Management To-Dos For Lawyers During the Pandemic

By John O’Neal

The COVID-19 pandemic has given most of us more free time than we have had in a long time. While you definitely need to use some of the free time to recharge your battery and engage in some non-work activities, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to improve your practice. Here are 10 quick tips:

1. Review your list of current clients. Make and execute decisions on some of the cases that you have not worked on in a while. Disengage from the cases you need to get out of and re-engage on the cases that you need to work on. Reconnect with the client if it has been a while since you have touched base. Assess statutes of limitations in all unfiled cases.

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Pro Bono Opportunity For Employment Law Attorneys

In our efforts to partner with legal organizations during the COVID-19 Pandemic and beyond, NCAJ is proud to partner with the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center on pro bono and mentoring opportunities for attorneys who are willing to provide advice and counsel in their area(s) of practice.

One immediate need is for attorneys in the area of Employment Law.  With over 170,000 unemployment claims filed in North Carolina last week due to economic fallout from COVID-19, the need for employment law legal services has also increased.  Below is a specific request from Pisgah Legal Services for your help:

Pisgah Legal Services is a civil legal aid firm serving western North Carolina. Traditionally, Pisgah Legal has referred out the few unemployment benefits cases we have to local volunteer attorneys, and our staff attorneys have not developed expertise in this practice area. In the past few weeks with the COVID-19 crisis, Pisgah Legal has had an exponential increase in calls for help with unemployment benefits matters. The organization is currently training several staff attorneys to advise clients on these matters and have a few volunteer attorneys assisting, however we need to increase our capacity significantly.

Pisgah Legal is seeking attorney volunteers with unemployment claims expertise to provide limited mentoring to our staff attorneys, and attorney volunteers to take pro bono cases for our clients who need advice regarding their unemployment claim and/or need to appeal a denial. Please contact Katie Russell Miller at katierm@pisgahlegal.org or 828-210-3420 if you would like more information or would like to help.

NCAJ Welcomes Trudi Brown As Director of Development and Membership Engagement

Trudi Brown has joined the NCAJ staff as the organization’s new Development and Membership Engagement Director. She began her position March 25.

Brown has over 20 years’ experience in development, fundraising, external relations, event management, board development, marketing and communications. She most recently served as the director of external relations for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at N.C. State University. In that role, she managed the corporate partners program, which focuses on engagement and recruitment of nearly 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students, led internal communications efforts and managed various outreach programs and events. Prior to joining N.C. State, Brown worked for Campbell Law School as the director of development and at the N.C. State Poole College of Management as the director of development and external relations. She has also held development positions at the WakeMed Foundation and marketing, communications, sales and service roles with Central Carolina Bank in Durham. Brown received her BA in Business Management with a concentration in marketing from N.C. State University.

NCAJ Executive Director Kim Crouch said Brown’s skills and experience make her a great fit for NCAJ.

“She is well versed in structuring and improving fundraising and development programs,” Crouch said. “She also knows many of our members through her prior work experience. I am confident she will be a terrific addition to our team.”

Ironman David Daggett: ‘Every Crisis Conceals An Opportunity’

By Amber Nimocks

Here’s a COVID-19-informed update of our profile of attorney, community leader and Ironman athlete David Daggett that offers a look at how Daggett Shuler is addressing the challenges of the pandemic, how the firm’s signature Safe Sober Prom Night works in a season without proms, and how his Ironman training is going now that pools are strictly off limits.

When I interviewed Daggett last fall for a profile in the Winter edition of Trial Briefs, he was looking forward to celebrating the 30th anniversary of Safe Sober Prom Night this spring. His Winston-Salem firm started the program, which has reached 600,000 kids with its message of safety and responsibility during its three-decade run.

Then came COVID-19. Undeterred, Daggett powered ahead, setting up an awards ceremony for the winner of the program’s annual T-shirt design contest in late March — where everyone stood six feet apart. And though prom night is postponed, possibly cancelled, Daggett has promised that students will get their Safe Sober Prom Night T-shirts, which have become a popular totem of the community’s high school experience.

David Daggett
Daggett Shuler
Attorneys At Law
Winston-Salem
www.daggettshulerlaw.com
NCAJ member for: 34 years
Education:
BA in Economics from Indiana State University, law degree from Wake Forest University Law School.
Family:
Three children: Annecy, a junior at William & Mary University; Emmaline, a freshman at Swarthmore College; and Riley, a junior at Richard J. Reynolds High School. Daggett and his wife, Cynthia, live in Winston-Salem.

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NCAJ-NCADA Urge Members To Cooperate During Pandemic

The North Carolina Advocates for Justice and the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys jointly urge their members to work together to keep the justice system moving forward for the good of their clients and for the good of the profession. Find more ressources for plaintiffs’ attorneys at the NCAJ blog COVID-19 Resource Center.

Read the letter from Presidents Vernon Sumwalt and Lach Zemp.

Here’s How We Will Pivot During This Pandemic | A Message from Executive Director Kim Crouch

Let me begin this message by pausing to check on each of you during this COVID-19 pandemic. In this unprecedented time, I know we are all working rapidly to respond to the needs of our clients and colleagues. I hope you are all taking care of yourselves and your families as well.

COVID-19 is not just a public health crisis but also an economic crisis. The days, weeks and potentially months ahead will no doubt bring significant uncertainty to all of you. You will face challenges as you work to preserve your clients’ legal rights and maintain the health of your businesses. I know this pandemic will affect all our members – the backbone of this organization – and I will do all I can to support you, your practices and the legal profession itself. 

CONVENTION 2020

First, I’d like to address questions about Convention. After lengthy discussions, the members of the NCAJ Executive Committee and I have decided to cancel the NCAJ Annual Convention scheduled for June 18-21. I understand the importance of this annual event as it is a time to swap stories, share practice tips, and foster community. We did not make this decision lightly, but it is paramount that we put the health and safety of our members above all else. 

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NCAJ Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response & Update | March 18

NCAJ Suspends All In-Person CLEs, Meetings and Events

Through April 30

In light of the increased fluidity of the situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, including Chief Justice Beasley’s recent orders regarding the closure of the majority of the state’s court system, the leadership of NCAJ has decided to suspend all in-person CLEs, meetings and events through April 30. Where possible, we will offer CLE programs and meetings via a digital format or Zoom conference call.

Please note that this decision immediately affects the status of the following NCAJ CLE programs, meetings and events:

  • March 20: Executive Committee Meeting | This meeting will be held via Zoom conference call. Contact Courtney Jones with questions or concerns.
  • April 3: Board of Governors Meeting | This meeting will be held via Zoom conference call. Contact Courtney Jones with questions or concerns.
  • April 3: The 25th Annual Workers’ Compensation Roundtable | This program will be moved to Convention 2020 in Wilmington and remain an in-person event.
  • April 17: Land Condemnation 2020: You Don’t Miss Your Water–Practical Pointers for the Post-Map Act Cases Era | This program will be moved to August 2020 and remain an in-person event.
  • April 17: Employment Law Section Social | This event is postponed indefinitely.
  • April 23: Civil Rights Section Social at Clouds Brewing | This event is postponed indefinitely.
  • April 24: Death Penalty 2020 | This program will be moved to August 13-14, 2020 and remain an in-person event.

As of today, all May programming and Convention 2020 (June 18-20 in Wilmington) are still on track to take place as scheduled. We are closely monitoring all official updates from the CDC and NCDHHS and will provide regular updates to all members as they become available.

All NCAJ Section, Division and Caucus leadership calls, trial debriefs, roundtables, etc. and NCAJ Committee Calls will continue as originally scheduled on Zoom.

The NCAJ staff has been working remotely since September 2019, as the former NCAJ building on Annapolis Drive is now up for sale. We do not anticipate any lapse in service from the staff in the coming weeks, as they are already well-equipped to continue to do their jobs from home.  

Additional COVID-19 Resources for Attorneys in North Carolina:

We appreciate your understanding during this time. Please take care of yourselves, your families and your communities.

Kimberly Crouch 
Executive Director
North Carolina Advocates for Justice