By Abby Hammond
Elections in North Carolina this year are tight, the races will hinge on turnout, and — do not be mistaken — North Carolina will remain a purple state in the coming years.
That was the takeaway from a discussion between North Carolina political strategists Morgan Jackson and Paul Shumaker hosted by NCAJ on Thursday afternoon.
Jackson is a co-founder of Nexus Strategies and a veteran of a number of high-profile political and public policy efforts. Shumaker is the founder and president of the political consulting firm Capitol Communications, Inc.
While they stand on opposite sides of the political divide, Jackson and Shumaker agree about many things regarding the state’s political future: North Carolina will continue to be a pivotal state in national elections and continue to be tight on in-state elections over the next eight-year period, at a minimum. Campaign efforts will continue to remain visible and high-spending in North Carolina.
By Amber Nimocks
Profiles in our quarterly Trial Briefs magazine feature members at varying stages of their careers. Know an NCAJ member we should profile? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jasmine Little has wanted to be a lawyer for as long as she can remember.
“While I don’t remember the exact moment I made the decision to join the profession, I’m sure watching TV shows that highlighted attorneys influenced my decision,” she said.
Deuterman Law Group
NCAJ member for: two years
Education: East Carolina University, Wake Forest University School of Law
Little earned her law degree from the Wake Forest University School of Law, and this year joined the Deuterman Law Group as an associate concentrating on Social Security Disability and Medicaid. She is a magna cum laude graduate of East Carolina University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in business administration.
While Little did not pursue a made-for-TV practice area, she finds great satisfaction in the ways she can help her clients.
“A lot of my clients’ lives have revolved around their work and being able to provide a service to others through their employment,” she said. “That all changes when they are diagnosed with a condition or several conditions that no longer allow them to do so. Navigating the Social Security rules and regulations can be quite difficult, especially when you are constantly visiting doctors’ offices and managing your symptoms. I find it extremely rewarding to help clients get through this process so that they can focus their time on recovering or learning to live with their conditions.”
January 20, 2020. The day that COVID-19 struck America. This pandemic has changed America’s standing throughout the world and impacted every American citizen’s way of life.
No matter which side of the political aisle you are on, I think we can agree that the leadership from the Oval Office has been lacking during the COVID-19 crisis. We are the United States of America, and we are behind the eight ball during a pandemic that is cutting across our nation. Since January, the United States has lacked the courage to do the right thing, failed in communication, and has lacked the commitment to rid our nation of the virus.
What can we learn from this?
During a crisis, our leaders’ past actions matter.
If leaders have failed to demonstrate thoughtful and measured behavior, people won’t know what to expect from them.
During a crisis, our leaders’ actions matter.
We look to our leaders during difficult times. We seek reassurance, direction, guidance and the truth.
Leadership requires courage. Leadership is not brash, reactive or dismissive. It is considered, informed, directive, thoughtful, compassionate and grounded in integrity.
Courage to do the hard work. Courage to ask the tough questions. Courage to implement clearly defined policies and priorities. Courage to build the infrastructure.
It is this brand of courageous leadership that NCAJ must summon as we undertake the creation of a strategic plan for our advocacy program.
Chief Justice Cheri Beasley struck a hopeful note as the keynote speaker at Friday’s Second Annual NCAJ Diversity & Inclusion Conference, saying the unrest that has rocked the nation in recent months has also opened doors to more powerful and meaningful conversations about race and gender.
Chief Justice Cheri Beasley
“It’s been really important for all of us to seek a different kind of resolve for issues that we don’t want to talk about and that we don’t want to address,” she said. “I think it’s been really important that as we move through these issues, we come together. We really are a profession that through the history of this nation, regardless of what the challenges are, we’ve come together and we’ve led through these challenges. We’ve changed the course of history before, and I believe we can change the course of history now. I believe all of us have a desire to do better and be better, and I’m really excited about that.”
Beasley followed a slate of speakers who addressed issues of historical racism, implicit bias and workplace diversity and inclusion. North Carolina Central University School of Law Professor Irving Joyner kicked off the morning with a thorough and thoughtful overview of race and the law in North Carolina, drawing a bright line between Reconstruction era laws and the systemic inequities in North Carolina’s modern justice system. Jessica L. Whitney, Ph.D, who teaches at UNC-Wilmington and is an experienced diversity and inclusion instructor, outlined the dangers of professing that we live in a post-racial society. She offered practical advice for professionals to follow in being intentional in their diversity and inclusion efforts.
NCAJ asked two members to offer personal reflections on the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Pioneering intellectual property attorney Susan Olive offers her perspective here.
By Susan Olive
When I think of Justice Ginsburg, I most strongly remember her sense of moral responsibility, her belief that the law exists to do justice, and her willingness and courage to fight for what is right. She quintissentially spoke truth to power, working to carry out the Biblical command in Jeremiah: “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.”
But I also remember her “balanced” side: the side that said, “Work for what you believe in, but pick your battles, and don’t burn your bridges. Don’t be afraid to take charge, think about what you want, then do the work, but then enjoy what makes you happy, bring along your crew, have a sense of humor.” Her lifetime included decades of marriage to a husband she loved, raising children, enjoying time as a grandmother, and mentoring a bevy of law clerks.
Her fight for justice stemmed from a career shaped by discrimination. She reflected time and time again on being asked by Harvard’s law school dean why she was taking a place that should have gone to a male. That experience resonated. I, for example, was told by a professor that it was a waste of time for me to take his class because I’d just get married and have twins. Others around the country had similar stories. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was us.
NCAJ asked two members to offer personal reflections on the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Helen Baddour provides this perspective on behalf of the NCAJ Women’s Caucus.
By Helen Baddour
NCAJ Women’s Caucus Chair 2020-2021
On Friday evening, after learning of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, I called and texted friends and family until I could no longer keep my eyes open. The words that gave me most comfort came from writer and activist, Glennon Doyle.
Thank you for fighting for us so brilliantly, relentlessly, creatively, and fiercely – and for so long.
Tonight, we mourn.
Tomorrow, we fight.
Consistent with NCAJ’s vision of protecting people, preventing injustice and promoting fairness, the Advocacy Team actively monitors the actions of the General Assembly in an effort to identify bills being introduced which may affect our members and, more importantly, our members’ clients. This “boots on the ground” level of monitoring at the General Assembly allows us to identify legislation early in the process with the goal of mustering support for those issues that align with our vision or rallying opposition to those issues that do not.
The short session of 2020, while “short,” was not short on activity due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic. This report summarizes the bills that may impact the practices of our members. This includes a summary of the numerous immunity bills, all of the governor’s vetoes in 2020, and highlights of other legislative changes in 2020. This summary is not a comprehensive list of all 2020 session laws.
By Amber Nimocks
In our quarterly profiles that appear first in Trial Briefs magazine, NCAJ features members at varying stages in their careers: new members, rising stars and heroes. I talked with Rising Star Lauren O’Malley for a feature this spring. Know an NCAJ member who deserves to be profiled? Email me your ideas at email@example.com.
Lauren O’Malley’s father was an attorney who warned her not to become a lawyer, especially not a family lawyer. After 10 years as a practicing family lawyer, she’s still glad to have ignored his advice. O’Malley says that surviving in the notoriously high-stress practice area means learning to avoid taking on every client’s emotions as they go through the difficult process of divorce. But after the negotiations and battles are over, it’s good to let yourself revel in their post-divorce rebounds. She says hearing stories from clients who go on to find happiness after divorce makes it all worth it.
Triangle Smart Divorce
NCAJ member for: nine years
Education: Pennsylvania State University, Duquesne Law School
NCAJ President David Henson has sent a letter to the chair of the N.C. State Bar’s Continuing Legal Education Board, George L. Jenkins Jr., providing notice of NCAJ’s support of the board’s effort to evaluate the inclusion of diversity and inclusion training as part of the annual continuing legal education requirement. Read the letter here.
At its Aug. 4 meeting, the State Bar Board of Continuing Legal Education’s Subcommittee on Bias and Diversity met to discuss potential changes to the annual MCLE requirements to include an hour covering topics related to bias and diversity. The subcommittee looked at requirements of other states and will begin drafting language for a potential rule change. The subcommittee will meet again in late August to finalize language and discuss procedural aspects of the rule with the goal to present their recommendation to the full CLE Board at the end of September 2020. If approved, the recommendation will go to the State Bar Council for consideration. The earliest implementation date for the rule change is January 1, 2022.
This issue was raised at the inaugural NCAJ Diversity & Inclusion Conference last fall. NCAJ is forming an internal working group, led by Stewart Poisson as the Diversity Officer and Sonya Pfeiffer as the Legal Affairs VP, to explore the issue of the diversity and inclusion CLE requirement and the issue of adding anti-discrimination language to the State Bar’s Rules of Professional Responsibility, as described in an earlier blog post.
Please email Executive Director Kim Crouch by Wednesday, Aug. 12 if you are interested in serving on the internal working group or would like to suggest a member to serve.
NCAJ supports adding anti-discrimination language to the North Carolina State Bar’s Rules of Professional Responsibility, an issue the State Bar’s Ethics Committee addressed during a special meeting today.
The State Bar is considering adding anti-discrimination language in three contexts: as a change to the preamble, as adoption of Model Rule 8.4(d), and as a proposed comment to Rule 1.1 (Competency) on awareness of implicit bias and cultural competency.
During Thursday’s meeting, the committee voted 23-5 that a proposed change to the preamble be published for comment. State Bar Councilors will review that decision at their meeting tomorrow. As for a potential rule or comment to the rule change, the Ethics Committee suggested employing a subcommittee to study the issue of whether to amend Rule 8.4(d). After a unanimous vote to study a rule change, Ethics Committee Chair David Allen indicated that he will accept recommendations of Ethics Committee members to serve on the subcommittee. Regarding a potential comment to Rule 1.1, the Ethics Committee suggested employing a separate subcommittee to study the issue. The committee voted unanimously to move forward with appointing a subcommittee.