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 email@example.com or 828-210-3420 if you would like more information or would like to help.
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.”
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.
Daggett Shuler Attorneys At Law
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.
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.
By Anna Kalarites
There is no doubt that our profession is becoming more diverse. I look around the courtroom and our NCAJ meetings and notice more women attorneys and attorneys of color than when I originally started practicing just five years ago. Before going to law school, I spent 10 years in D.C., and five years working at the American Association for Justice doing marketing for the CLE programs. Diversity was always something we were acutely aware of — we wanted to make sure the makeup of our programs accurately reflected our membership. I was fortunate enough to attend law school in Baltimore, where my graduating class was extremely diverse with a female majority. When I joined NCAJ and started practicing as a plaintiff’s trial lawyer, I went out of my way to seek out fellow women attorneys, and I have found great support and friendship in the Women’s Caucus.
But as the practice has gotten more diverse, one area I have noticed that has remained the same is the experts we hire. In my experience, they tend to be older white males who have gone to elite schools and have done very well in their chosen profession. As a result of this, I still to this day find myself getting nervous when I interact with my experts. Just this week, despite my five years of experience and doing dozens of initial calls with experts, I found myself getting nervous before talking to an expert on the phone. My stomach turned in knots, and I worried that he would not find me credible or take me seriously, that he would prefer talking to my boss instead. But this was my case and my client, not my boss’s. I had been the one poring over the medical records, the one who answered the client’s phone calls.
Working Together, NCAJ Members Helped Change the Face of Work for NC Trial Lawyers
By Amber Nimocks
When N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley announced last September that the state courts had changed their family leave policy, the news pinged around the globe. State and local media outlets covered the press conference where Beasley and NCAJ Executive Director Kim Crouch announced the change, the ABA Journal followed the story, and legal news sites as far away as Australia took note.
The new policy extends the time new parents are guaranteed away from the trial calendar from three to 12 weeks. This means a trial lawyer who has had a child won’t be called back to the duties of the profession for at least three months, giving that mother or father the opportunity to rest, recover and form a crucial bond with their newborn.
Join members of the Womens Caucus at their Second Annual NCAJ Women’s Caucus Retreat, scheduled for March 6 at the Kimpton Cardinal Hotel in Winston-Salem.
The publicity the change earned offers proof of how rarely the legal system responds to the personal needs of legal professionals. That the change was made is a testament to the leadership of North Carolina’s judiciary and to the tenacity and foresight of the NCAJ’s Women’s Caucus and the NCAJ members and partners who supported the effort.