33 NCAJ Members Inducted Into 2019 Pro Bono Honor Society

We offer our thanks and congratulations to the 33 NCAJ members inducted into the Pro Bono Resource Center’s 2019 North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society. The attorneys listed below reported completing 50 or more hours of pro bono legal services in 2019 to become members of the honor society. For more information about the society, view this article from the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts.

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Join Us At Virtual Convention To Honor Leaders In the Legal Profession

The pandemic has altered our Convention plans, but it can’t deter us from honoring those who continue to lead the legal system and NCAJ through these unprecedented times.

When we meet via Zoom for Virtual Convention on Thursday, June 18, we will present awards to the following:

  • Outstanding Trial Judge Award to Judge Paul C. Ridgeway
  • Outstanding Appellate Judge Award to Chief Justice Cheri L. Beasley
  • Outstanding Legislator Award to N.C. Sen. Danny Earl Britt Jr.
  • Charles L. Becton Teaching Award to Rick Glazier

The Becton Award recognizes excellence in the teaching of trial advocacy.

  • Ebbie Award to Michael S. Adkins
  • Ebbie Award to Carmaletta L. Henson
  • Ebbie Award to Jennifer Moeller Lechner
  • Ebbie Award to Jason A. Orndoff
  • Ebbie Award to Kimberly Wilson White

The Ebbie Award is named after Ebbie Bailey, the first lady emeritus of NCAJ, who helped founding member Allen Bailey establish the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers over 50 years ago. Named in her honor, the Ebbie Award was created in 2003 to recognize service and inspired commitment to NCAJ and its mission.

Find more details about Convention 2020 on our website. Please register to join us and help us honor all our award winners.

Give Thanks For Invisible People And Remember That Trial Lawyers Can Save the World

By Vernon Sumwalt

My last President’s Column. Here it is, and here I am — for the first time ever — sipping coffee in New Orleans as I start putting my thoughts to paper. It’s a brisk dawn. Late February. Mardi Gras. My balcony hangs above Canal Street, only a block from Bourbon Street. I wonder, “How do the streets get so clean so soon after mayhem? And so early in the morning? After all that happened down there last night?”

Just a few hours before, a horde of beadseekers stumbled through the trash, beer bottles and other litter. NOLA, I decide, is a lot different from where I grew up. But they have one thing in common, at least when the sun rises: They have clean streets. “Who did this? And so fast?”

When we have a chance to pause and take a breath, we see the fingerprints of many invisible people who make the world happen while the rest of us enjoy the ride. For them, we give thanks.

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What a Time To Be a 1L: Getting Through Mile 20 Of the Marathon

We wish the best of luck to law students across the state as they finish up the academic year in circumstances less than ideal.


By Brooke Kemp

Law school is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.

I heard this phrase over and over again during my first few weeks of law school. In theory, the concept seems simple. A marathon is really hard and it takes a long time to complete.

But, as a marathon runner, I have a different perspective of that phrase and how it relates to law school.

I believe there are more similarities between law school and training for a Boston Marathon qualifying race than actually running the race. Running the marathon is not the hardest part; the hardest part is the training that happens months before the race. Most runners would agree that running a marathon in a Boston Marathon qualifying time is a true accomplishment. A runner must qualify with a truly competitive race time to be eligible for an entry.

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Zooming Through Mediation and UM/UIM Arbitration In the Time Of COVID-19

At the beginning of March, I had heard of COVID-19.  When I looked at my calendar for the month, I knew I had a UM/UIM arbitration scheduled on the 18th where I was an arbitrator. I was dubious as to whether we would go forward. As news of the pandemic in the U.S. grew, I emailed everyone in the second week of the month, asking if we were still on for the 18th. Everyone said yes, and I was worried. The next week brought news that some of the lawyers involved were not going to take the risk of meeting together, and we needed to come up with something else. And that’s how I learned to get five lawyers, many of whom do not consider themselves “tech-savvy” to conduct a four-hour arbitration with exhibits by Zoom conference. At the same time, across town, David Mason of Henson & Fuerst was going through the same experience, but with two meditations he had scheduled.
This week, NCAJ presented a free webinar (no CLE credits) allowing us to explain how this worked. The program is a conversation between myself, Rick Hunter (plaintiff’s arbitration counsel), Tammy Winstead (Hunter’s paralegal), and Kent Smith, our neutral arbitration. David Mason speaks for about 25 minutes on his experiences as plaintiff’s counsel in two Zoom arbitrations, one with mediator Mike McDaniel, the other with mediator Jackie Clare.

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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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
NCAJ member for: 34 years
BA in Economics from Indiana State University, law degree from Wake Forest University Law School.
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. 


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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Finding Your Confidence and Credibility: A Young Lawyer’s Take On Dealing With Experts

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.

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