By M. Riana Smith

Happy 2017! While it is the new year for everyone else, this time of year marks the half-way point of our bar year, which provides a great opportunity to see what we have accomplished so far, what is new and what is upcoming. Let’s start with what’s new. I am excited to introduce you to the section’s new blog format.

Rather than receiving our newsletter approximately every four months, you will receive more frequent posts on items of interest and affecting our section members – typically on a monthly basis. The motivation behind this change is to provide the members more timely access to important information instead of waiting until we have enough articles for the Change Order or until the next deadline. Expect to still receive the same great articles from section authors that you always have, but also look forward to blogs on other areas of law that may affect your practice, as well as legislative and case law updates. Changing the format has been in the works for some time. I want to thank the Newsletter Committee: Jonathan Massell, Lindsey Powell, Gib Laite and Todd Jones for their hard work that led to the successful launch of our new blog format. If you have ideas for a blog, an article (perhaps broken into a series of blog posts), or see another blog that should be re-blogged, please email our co-chairs (listed above) so they can make plans to include in future posts. Also, we welcome your feedback on this new format – good, bad (aka kindly constructive), or in-between, so we can continue to improve and better serve the section.

What’s next? The section will have its quarterly cocktail social following our next council meeting on Feb. 22 at More, in downtown Raleigh, from 5 p.m. to 7p.m. There will be drinks, food and good company to enjoy. The next day, Feb. 23, the section will hold its Winter CLE program at the Bar Center in Cary. This CLE, entitled Managing Risks: Insurance Considerations for the Construction Industry, provides an in-depth look at insurance considerations affecting the construction industry and practitioners. Topics covered include types of coverage, negotiation and drafting considerations, crafting complaints and claims to secure coverage, and recent litigation. There is still time to sign-up and get those last CLE hours for 2016.

Our Service Project Committee Co-chairs Patrick Haywood and Ethan Fleisher are working to coordinate our next service project. We will continue our involvement with Habitat for Humanity, but shift the location to Edgecombe or Robeson County, which are both still recovering from the devastating impact caused by Hurricane Matthew. Expect to receive an email soon with the date and sign-up information. Also, the council continues to look at itself and how it can better function and provide value to our members. To that end, be on the lookout for an email from me shortly requesting feedback and gauging interest on some of the ideas in the works.

The section has also accomplished quite a bit in the first half of its year.  We enjoyed a great turnout at our Annual Meeting, held jointly with the Litigation Section, in September, located along the beautiful Neuse River in New Bern. Section members from across the state enjoyed a great program, as well as that collegiality I bragged about in my last column.

Finally, I want to thank all the committee chairs and council members for all you do, since the section could not function without your dedication and hard work.  For those of you considering whether to volunteer, please do. Our section benefits from new and different perspectives.

Riana Smith is a partner with Strauch Green & Mistretta, PC and is the current Chair of the Construction Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association.