President Allen Smith shared a letter with leaders of North Carolina's General Assembly endorsing Governor Cooper's nominations to serve as Special Superior Court judges with designations to the Business Court.
NCADA endorses for reappointment the Honorable Adam Conrad and the Honorable Michael Robinson to the Business Court. Nominees Julianna Theall Earp and the Honorable Mark Davis are also endorsed.
Read the letter of endorsement here.
“The best way to persuade people is with your ears – by listening to them.” Dean Rusk
Think about some of your best trips to a doctor. What made the doctor stand out? I’m willing to bet that the doctor was an active listener. Litigators want to be known for their closing arguments, but one of the most important skills a lawyer can develop is the ability to be a good listener.
Listening carefully to the client at the outset of the case allows the attorney to get a good grasp of the facts so that he or she can develop a strategy for the case. Acknowledging what the client tells an attorney puts the client at ease. Some of my best lines during a closing argument have come from random comments by clients during the course of a trial.
Listening to witnesses is equally important. Most of us have some type of outline or list of questions. During depositions, it is easy to methodically walk through the questions. The attorney may get a good answer to a question early in the deposition that eliminates the need for asking a question later in the deposition. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by asking that later question and allowing the witness to change the answer.
The NCADA also wants to listen to its members. How can we help your practice? Is there a topic for one of the coffee talks you would like to discuss? Do you have suggestions for topics for the Fall Seminar? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, please contact me, Lynette, or Jennifer.
The terms of five current members of the NCADA Board of Directors will expire in June 2021. Nominations for the five vacant Director positions are now being accepted to serve a three year term beginning at the close of the 2021 Annual Meeting through the close of the 2024 Annual Meeting.
Director responsibilities include:
To qualify for a position on the NCADA Board of Directors, the nominee should
Leadership opportunities in the NCADA’s Practice Groups are open for nominations. Members interested in the continued growth and relevance of the NCADA through its practice groups will be considered for leadership positions in the following areas of practice: Construction, Commercial, Employment, General Liability, Government, Medical Malpractice, Product Liability and Workers’ Compensation.
The following information should be included in the nomination:
1) Member Name, Firm, contact information and a brief biographical sketch;
2) Brief statement by the nominee of his or her availability and commitment to actively serve as a member of the Board, or as a practice group leader;
3) Brief statement why nominee would like to serve as a member of the Board of Directors, or as a practice group leader.
Persons interested in submitting a nomination may E mail or write to the Nominating Committee in care of Lynette Pitt, Executive Director (E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; U.S. Mail: 4030 Wake Forest Road, Ste 203, Raleigh, NC 27609.)
Nominations must be received no later than Monday, March 29, 2021, 5 p.m.
A Note from NCADA President, Allen Smith
Weatherwise, February has been a less than ideal month – cold (as usual) and lots of precipitation. The good news is that we had some sun on weekends (particularly on February 20 and 21) and we are starting to see light at the end of this long tunnel known as the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of you participated in the Zoom presentation that Chief Justice Paul Newby on Thursday, February 18. Chief Justice Newby shared his reason for allowing the judicial districts to make decisions about when to re-open courts for in-person trials and hearings, and I hear some counties have started jury trials again.
If you have been a participant in a jury trial, we would love to hear from you. Did you have a difficult time getting enough jurors? Did the court push hard for you to use fewer than 12 jurors? How was the flow of the trial compared to before the pandemic?
Our Annual Meeting and Spring Program will be virtual again this year and is tentatively scheduled for June 10-12. We’re just not confident the world will be ready for big in person meetings by June. We’ll have more information and details soon!
But it is our hope that society will have somewhat returned to normalcy by September. So with that hope in mind, The NCADA is planning to return to live meetings this September for our Fall Seminar. It will be at the Omni Oceanfront Resort on Hilton Head Island from Sunday September 19 to Tuesday September 21. Yes, this is a little different than we’ve done it before, but we’re hopeful and looking forward to seeing everyone in person--I cannot wait! Details coming soon.
Speaking of the fall meeting, we would love to hear from members about topics they would like covered. There is no need to be bashful – please share your ideas!
I look forward to seeing some of you in a courthouse soon and more of you in HHI in September.
Happy New Year! 2021 is off to an interesting start. Hopefully, it gets better. . . real soon. We need a soft landing!
Instead of focusing on current events in the news, I’d rather highlight one of the important benefits that the NCADA provides its members – the submission of amicus curae briefs in appellate cases. Currently, the NCADA has a handful of cases pending in which it has submitted an amicus brief and/or petition for review. Over the past year, the amicus efforts have included issues involving class certification, contributory negligence, uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage, medical malpractice, products liability, and workers’ compensation.
Several factors come into play when considering whether to participate in an amicus. First, the executive committee must believe the merits of the argument. Not all cases requesting NCADA participation are accepted. At some point in an attorney’s career, he or she will likely have to pursue an appeal despite recognizing the case is a loser from the start.
A second important factor is the benefit of our clients: the NCADA cannot advocate for the interests of one set of members’ clients against the interests of another. We sometimes see some meritorious requests that, for this reason, NCADA must decline participation.
Of equal importance is if a ruling in our side’s favor will benefit most of our members’ practices. NCADA does not take a case that will be averse to the interests of the members of our organization. For this reason, we have declined some interesting cases.
The NCADA is selective of cases approved for amicus; the legal issue on appeal must be of substantial interest to the NCADA and its members. NCADA has built a distinctive reputation and we are proud our participation in this process has an impact.
If you have a case in which you would like NCADA involvement, I encourage you to contact the current chair of Amicus Committee, Hon. Linda Stephens, to advise of the issue before the court, explain the importance of the issue, and share information about who will write the brief and/or petition. More information about how to request an amicus can be found on the NCADA website.
As we approach the end of this tumultuous year, I want to scream, “Goodbye, 2020! Leave me alone. 2021, you cannot get here soon enough.” More importantly, I want to wish all our members happy holidays and a safe new year. I hope the members who celebrate Christmas were able to see family—whether in person or virtually.
The new year brings a changing of the guard on the North Carolina Supreme Court. I would like to congratulate incoming Chief Justice Paul Newby on his new position as head of our courts. I would also like to congratulate incoming Justices Phillip Berger, Jr. and Tamara Barringer on their successful campaigns to obtain seats as associate justices on the North Carolina Supreme Court. I wish the best of luck to all of them.
Our state owes Chief Justice Cheri Beasley a debt of gratitude. She has provided the appellate courts of North Carolina with a high level of dedication. Additionally, Chief Justice Beasley demonstrated exemplary leadership during the Covid-19 crisis. With regard to the Supreme Court, I do not want to overlook Justice Mark Davis, who will also be leaving the bench. Like Chief Justice Beasley, Justice Davis has served on both levels of the appellate courts in North Carolina and distinguished himself as a jurist who understands the rule of law in the role of the courts in North Carolina.
The Court of Appeals will have two retirements of significance. Chief Judge Linda McGee has provided steadfast leadership to the Court of Appeals, particularly over the last six years when she has served as chief judge. Additionally, Judge Wanda Bryant is retiring after over 18 years on the Court of Appeals. Both judges have distinguished themselves and provided dedicated service.
For those of us who are used to regular courtroom appearances, 2020 was a frustrating year, particularly regarding trials. Our court system has shown agility in developing a WebEx system for motions hearings. While trials on a regular basis may still be several months away, we can see some light at the end of the tunnel. The trial court administrators throughout our state deserve appreciation and recognition. We as attorneys will continue to show patience as we work our way through first half of the year and the vaccination process.
It is my most sincere hope to see each of you in person during 2021. Here’s to better times ahead!
On behalf of the Board of Directors and dedicated staff, I wish all of our members and the legal community a very happy Thanksgiving. The year 2020 has been topsy-turvy at a minimum. However, from my perspective, we are a fortunate lot. The attorneys in our fields of practice fared better than the workers in many other industries. The litigation bar has been nimble in adapting to the Covid-19 pandemic and associated restrictions. In short, we still have work, and we can go about our jobs with relatively minor inconveniences.
The general election added to the topsy-turvy nature of 2020. It is hard to imagine a tighter statewide race than the one North Carolina had for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. As of today (but before final certification by the NC State Board of Elections), Justice Paul Newby leads Chief Justice Cheri Beasley by the narrowest of margins (406 votes out of over 5.39 million votes cast). This close race demonstrates the importance of voting and is a testament to the dedicated service both Chief Justice Beasley and Justice Newby have given to our great state.
Best wishes to all for Thanksgiving.
I hope all of you are doing well in dealing with the Covid - 19 pandemic and the bombardment of election commercials, the latter of which has a light at the end of the tunnel. Depending on your party affiliation, the light may be sunshine or a locomotive headed at you full speed! The good news is that election season is almost over . . . for this year.
We cannot help you with the election, but the NCADA is focusing on how it can help its members, their firms, and their practices. We want to hear from you! Please let us know what the NCADA can do to increase the value of your member experience. Traditionally, we have provided excellent continuing education and networking opportunities. We are doing our best to continue this tradition in the present virtual world, and we are open to suggestions and increased membership participation. Please contact Lynette Pitt, Jennifer Edwards or Allen Smith and let us know what we can do to make your NCADA experience even better.
At our annual Fall Seminar, we had an excellent panel of for managing partners who discussed how firms are coping with the pandemic. The association has also hosted many webinars for CLE credit, several of which have been complimentary to members due to the generosity of our sponsors.
Which leads to my next topic: sponsors. Bar organizations depend on sponsors, and NCADA is fortunate to have so many loyal and generous sponsors. Please remember to use our sponsors and thank them.
Our Sponsorship Committee is looking for members to join the committee. This presents an excellent opportunity for members to get involved. If you are interested, please contact the committee chair, Melissa Walker or Lynette Pitt.
The NCADA has a history of encouraging and promoting diversity and inclusion. In 2019, we won the DRI Rudolph A. Janata Award for the second time. But we do not want to rest on our laurels. The committee continues to be an important focus of the NCADA, and it welcomes additional members. This also presents an excellent opportunity for members to get involved. If you are interested, please contact the Diversity Committee Chair, Denaa Griffin or Lynette Pitt.
When I next write you, we will be approaching Thanksgiving. I wish you well between now and then.
I can think of reasons to love purple: football (think Minnesota Vikings, ECU Pirates, and TCU Horned Frogs), music (Jimi Hendrix’s classic, “Purple Haze,” and the band Deep Purple), Easter, lollipops, rainbows, Crayola Crayons, Rockies, and leisure suits. I probably lost you with the leisure suits, as purple ones were particularly ugly.
BUT purple is not a good color for a state during election years. Sure, we North Carolinians get lots of attention, but we get too much attention. About the only good thing about COVID-19 has been no national political convention in my hometown of Charlotte, USA. One is enough, if not too many, for a lifetime.
We the people who live in the purple states like North Carolina get force fed the commercials and commercials and commercials and still even more commercials for the race for president. If one candidate wins, the country will fall apart at its seams. If another candidate wins, the country will experience its greatest moments in history. If the other candidate wins, riots and looting will never end. If one candidate wins, the country will be safe. Or at least all the TV commercials have said so - and I have seen plenty by both sides. Many have been back to back! As of the day I write this, we will get pummeled with commercials for another six weeks. And with the talking heads on TV predicting days to count all the votes, the commercials may continue past election day--or new types of commercials will appear.
How does my rant about seeing way, way too many ads for the presidential election apply to the practice of law? You learn what not to do. Do not call your opponent names. That may work (or it may not) in a political race, but it will come back to bite you in the practice of law. Do not denigrate the other side; show the opposing counsel and party respect in person. You do not have to be friends, but you have to work together to get through the litigation process. Do not mislead the court. When you are before the court, have facts and law to support your arguments. Only promise jurors or the court what you can deliver. Politicians lose credibility and win all the time. If a lawyer loses credibility with jurors, the lawyer is likely to lose the case. If a lawyer loses credibility with the court, the lawyer hurts the current client and possibly future clients.
I conclude by urging you to vote. The members of our organization have a wide array of opinions and political beliefs. However, I think that everyone agrees on the importance of casting a vote.
By Allen Smith, NCADA President
NCADA and President Allen Smith are pleased to introduce a series of columns to be included in The Resource over the next year on “What it means to be a defense attorney.”
We are very fortunate that some of the recent winners of the Elster Award and Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy graciously agreed to share their impressions over the remainder of the 2020-21 NCADA a year.
In writing the first column on the subject, I feel like a Double-A baseball player batting leadoff in a Major League Baseball All-Star Game. (Not knowing whether we will have a college football season, and I sure hope that we do, I am reticent to use a football analogy like kick-off.)
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