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.
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.
While I’m sure we will have to make more tough decisions in the days to come, I know that NCAJ’s innovation, creativity and leadership will blossom during this time of crisis. Our mission, your mission as a member, is to empower a strong community of trial lawyers and legal professionals that shares information, skills, and strategies to support clients in our courts and legislature. Now is the time for us to live true to that mission in a new and different way.
In order to foster a sense of community, provide member support and ease anxiety during this period of social distancing, your NCAJ staff is arranging three months of online-only programming for NCAJ members. NCAJ will offer weekly webinars on practice management, CLE webcasts, and various member networking events on Zoom or our integrated CLE webinar platform. NCAJ will also offer coffee chats with leadership, member lunch roundtables, happy hours that spotlight our members, and health and wellness sessions all on digital platforms that will reach members across North Carolina.
NCAJ will kick things off next week with a slate of free programs. Find the registration links in your email titled “Free NCAJ Member Programming Starts Tomorrow”:
- April 3, 9 a.m.: Special Webinar | Using Videoconferencing for Mediations with Jackie Clare
- April 6, noon: Special Webinar | Using Videoconferencing for Mediations and UM/UIM Arbitrations with Chris Nichols, David Mason, Rick Hunter and Tammy Hopkins
- April 8, noon: Webinar Wednesday | Tips and Tricks for Remote Work & Cloud-based Tools with Pegeen Turner of Legal Cloud Technology
- April 13, noon: Special Webinar | CARES Act SBA Loans: Something to Consider for your Firm with Philip Miller and Alex Lehmann
We are frequently updating the NCAJ blog to provide real-time information on resources and announcements about the practice of law and the court system. We will publish the NCAJ Community View newsletter weekly during this time and we will use our social media channels even more in the coming months.
Traditionally, NCAJ members renew their memberships during the summer. We will be altering this schedule to allow many of you to adjust to this new reality and find a sense of normalcy. We will reach out later to ask you to renew your membership, but only after we have brought you value in a new and different way. We hope you appreciate these changes and deem your continuing membership in NCAJ worth your while.
As your executive director, I am advocating for you during this strange, new time. I have arranged a conference call with the primary legal organizations across our state for early next week. I hope that we can work collectively to ensure the continuity of quality legal services to the people of our state. I have also reached out to the Pro Bono Resource Center and will soon be sharing volunteer opportunities to assist within the greater community.
I have reached out to leadership in the state’s executive branch, requesting that legal services be appropriately defined as essential services. I have also requested that notaries be allowed to perform their duties via video conference. And, I have an open line of communication with the leadership at the Administrative Office of the Courts. I will continue to seek guidance and offer suggestions to all three branches of government on the needs of NCAJ members.
Should you have any additional needs, please bring them to my attention by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
As we rise to meet the challenges of these uncertain times, we need to think outside the box, support one another and muster resolve. NCAJ stands ready to offer assistance and service to each of you so you, in turn, can serve the people of North Carolina. Best wishes and stay safe.