COVID 19 and Civil Litigation: What Is a Litigator To Do?

By John O’Neal

For the civil practitioner who relies on jury trials this can be a disconcerting time. The civil courts in North Carolina civil courts are closed and it is unclear as to when and in what form jury trials will return. Many of us are hoping for some measure of re-opening in June but that remains to be seen. In the meantime, cases must continue and there are more cases to be filed. So what is the civil practitioner to do?

One thing to do is to look at each of your civil cases and consider how best to bring them to resolution without a jury trial, if possible. Mediation remains an option in many cases be it court-ordered or voluntary. Arbitration may be in your future.  I recognize, however, that some cases will only be resolved after you have your day(s) in court in front of a jury. Here are some tips you can apply to each of your civil cases:

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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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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

Strategic Targeting: Find Your Ideal Client

Look for this feature in the current edition of Trial Briefs, exclusively for NCAJ members.

By Tea Hoffmann

In my coaching practice, I ask lawyers on the initial call to describe their ideal client. Most say “ones who can pay” with a chuckle. While having paying clients is important, finding the right paying clients is even more important. But how do you find the right clients for your practice? Strategic targeting is a method that has proven benefits when it comes to attracting the right clients.

Strategic targeting is a marketing method wherein you identify clients you would like to provide your services to, and those clients are also in need of someone with your experience and expertise to do work for them. These clients can fit into a certain demographic or market segment or fit into a certain business segment you find fascinating. For example, if you enjoy an eminent domain practice, you should be targeting clients who need help with a condemnation or eminent domain issue. Your website should contain resources designed for this type of client including frequently asked questions and past examples of your victories and representative matters. Video testimonials as well as written testimonials are also powerful. Credentialing yourself as a “Best Lawyer” in your specific field or “Super Lawyer” is also a great way to set yourself apart from your competition. In other words, you must get into the head of your ideal client and consider how they buy and why.

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