Month: January 2016

Readers Like Suspense—Just Not in the Introduction To Your Brief


I welcome evidence to the contrary, but I don’t think that most courts appreciate surprises in briefs. Courts have limited time; they want to use that time to make the right decisions. The sooner you can tell a court why you should win, the better.

Put another way, the introduction to your brief matters a great deal.

Why, then, do so many introductions to briefs create surprises—or otherwise frustrate a reader—rather than provide a roadmap?

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Balance the key to success for NCBA member Jim Siemens

Members in Focus highlights NCBA members’ special talents and hobbies. Jim Siemens is currently a Family Law Specialist with Siemens Law Group in Asheville.

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It’s Up To Us To Bring the Law To the People

Editor’s note: As we look forward to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and other opportunities to serve, an NCBA member reflects on why service matters.

An undergraduate degree. Three years of law school. The bar exam. Debt, stress, hard work, and strains on our personal lives. We’ve sacrificed a lot and dedicated ourselves to earn the privilege of practicing law. Our pens are more than ink and plastic, our signatures more than markings. We have the trust of society to rewrite the lives of those around us. Our entire profession, in fact, is dependent on society’s trust based on our education, licensing, and code of professional conduct. Our pens, set to paper to draft a motion or sign a pleading, transform into tools of the law, and it’s a transformation that is exclusive to us.

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NCBA adventurers conquer Norway’s knife-edge trails

By NCBA members Vance Barron  Jr., Locke Clifford, Barden Cooke, Robert DouglasRobert McClellan and Jonathan Maxwell

In the gloaming, silhouetted on Norway’s famous Besseggen Ridge, with no trail signs or anyone else in sight, a lone hiker is not sure he is on the trail. He is sure that his knee is acting up, and that he is bone weary. And he has miles to go.

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Putting on ‘Airs and Graces’: The Power of Punctuation To Elevate Your Writing


Each time I sit down to write a punctuation column, I find myself second-guessing the topic. Do readers really want to read about commas, or dashes, or apostrophes?  Shouldn’t I be able to think of something more stimulating to write about?

But I am always pleasantly surprised at the number of readers who contact me to thank me for these punctuation refreshers and to suggest additional punctuation-related topics. Recently, I received a couple of requests for a column covering the proper use of colons and semicolons, and I am happy to oblige.

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No New Clients In January and Other Tips for Avoiding Fee Disputes


By Ken Raynor 

Learning from the mistakes of others is far better than learning from your own follies. The work of the Mecklenburg County Bar’s Fee Dispute Resolution Committee allows its members to see patterns of conduct which end up in disputes between attorneys and clients. Hopefully, the members use this experience to develop procedures and practices which will help avoid fee disputes. We thought it may be good to share with our associates some of the insights we have learned through our service as members of the Fee Dispute Committee. Continue reading

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