Author: NCBA BLOG (page 1 of 26)

The Chair’s Comments: Big Things On This Year’s Agenda

By Debbie Harris

First of all, I would like to say thank you for allowing me to serve as your Chair for 2017-2018. I am truly humbled by the honor. It is hard to believe how fast the past three years have flown by since I took over as treasurer for the Division. It seems like just yesterday that I sat in nervous excitement, wide-eyed and full of wonder in my first retreat/council meeting in 2012 at the North Carolina Zoo. Several years have passed, but I still sit wide-eyed and full of wonder at the amount of talent, intelligence, and experience that sits around me at our council meetings. We are truly fortunate to have such a hard-working, engaged group of professionals in our Division.

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‘For Want Of a Comma’: The Latest In the Oxford Comma War

By Laura Graham

“For want of a comma, we have this case.”  Thus begins the opinion in O’Connor v. Oakhurst Dairy,[1] a 1st Circuit case decided in March that has rekindled a long-standing debate: Should the Oxford comma be used or not?

The Oxford comma—also known as the serial comma or the Harvard comma—is the comma between the penultimate and final items in a written list. For example, in the sentence, “The American flag is red, white, and blue,” the comma after “white” is an Oxford comma. Punctuation purists insist that the Oxford comma should always be used; but other constituencies argue that it is usually superfluous and unnecessary and should be reserved for sentences in which the absence of the comma would create ambiguity.

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Case Law Updates: Equitable Distribution; Divorce, Remarriage and Divorce

By Daphne Edwards and Becky Watts

Daphne Edwards

Equitable Distribution, Miller v. Miller, COA 16-486, April 18, 2017

In Miller v. Miller, the Court of Appeals addressed procedural and substantive issues regarding an equitable distribution claim. First, the Court of Appeals addressed application of N.C.R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6) to determine whether the trial court properly set aside a judgment of absolute divorce to allow the Wife to pursue an equitable distribution (hereafter “ED”) claim. The Court held the trial court properly entered its order vacating the divorce judgment under Rule 60(b)(6) to allow the Wife to pursue an ED claim. Specifically, Wife had filed a complaint for divorce from bed and board and ED at a time when the parties were not living separate and apart. The trial court granted her divorce from bed and board claim and the parties began living separate and apart on March 21, 2012. A consent order was entered on April 16, 2012, in which the court republished the Wife’s ED claim. Motions were entered regarding ED and the parties mediated the claim unsuccessfully in December 2012.

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NC Wage and Hour Act Amended To Exempt Seasonal Amusement Or Recreational Establishment Employees from Overtime Provision

By Michael B. Cohen

Under § 213(a)(3) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees of seasonal “amusement or recreational establishment[s]” are exempt from the statute’s minimum wage and overtime protections. In order to qualify as an exempt establishment pursuant to § 213(a)(3), an amusement or recreational establishment must: (1) not operate for more than seven months in any calendar year; or (2) accrue, during any six months of the preceding calendar year, average receipts of not more than one-third of its average receipts for the remaining six months of such year.[1] Examples of such establishments, according to the legislative history discussing the 1966 FLSA amendment, include “amusement parks, carnivals, circuses, sport events . . . or other similar or related activities . . . .” H.R. Rep. No. 871, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. 35 (1965).

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The Chair’s Comments: New Year, New Focus, New Blog

By C. Amanda Martin

Welcome!

Networking and education. If you’ve ever wondered why most people belong to the NCBA Litigation Section, it’s networking and education. Quite a few of you answered our recent survey – 164 of you, to be exact – and overwhelmingly that’s what you said. Over half said that you’d be most likely to attend a Section meeting if it had some kind of substantive program. About half of you said you would be most likely to attend a Section CLE if it were closely related to your field. (That answer sounds obvious, but it beat out CLEs that were inexpensive or in fun or close locations.) And asked what you most valued or would like to see in our Section, again and again you answered “CLE or other high quality education” and “networking opportunities.”

You’ve spoken, and we’ve listened. Your Section Council got together at the first of this month in a planning and brainstorming session to discuss how we can best serve you and give you what you want. Here is what we came up with.

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‘Where She Has Practiced Her Entire Career’: Reflections On Coming a Long Way

By Bettie Kelley Sousa

A recent e-bar announced the installation of Caryn Coppedge McNeill, the new president of the North Carolina Bar Association, and the election of the president-elect, Jacqueline D. Grant. A demanding, virtually full-time job spanning three years, the NCBA presidency often is held by big-firm lawyers who can commit such time to the profession and continue to feed their families. What’s not as common—the appointment of back-to-back female presidents.

Having practiced for 36 years, I believe it’s only happened once before.* My first reaction to this girl power moment had me nodding “ ‘bout time.” But, my second reaction was in response to the end of the paragraph about each woman. Listed after her firm was the phrase “where she has practiced her entire career.” Yes, I thought. I’m not surprised. Firm longevity is getting rare, but I’ll bet women constitute, percentage-wise, more of those who stay with the same firm from bar passage to retirement.

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Modification Of a Foreign Child-Custody Order Under the UCCJEA When Multiple States Are Involved

By Ashley Lorance

What if a joint custody order is entered in a state where the parents and child once lived, but then the child and parents all move — with the child living in-between mother’s home in State A and father’s home in State B? Which state would have jurisdiction to modify the foreign custody order? Would jurisdiction depend on which state had registered the order first?

The Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act sets out when a North Carolina court can modify a foreign child custody or child support order. See G.S. § 50A-203. Section 50A-203 specifies that this can only happen if a court of this state would have jurisdiction to make an initial child-custody determination, and a court of the other state determines it no longer has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction under G.S. 50A-202 (the child and no parent lives in that state or have a significant connection to that state) or that another state would be a more convenient forum under G.S. 50A-207, or a North Carolina court or a court of the other state determines that the child, the child’s parents and no person acting as a parent currently reside in the other state.

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Why Haven’t You Signed Up For the NCBA’s Weekly Job Alerts?

By Josh McIntyre

Most of my friends from law school switched jobs within the first two years of their practice, and I was no exception. Whether we felt unfulfilled, undervalued or we were just unhappy, job transitions within my peer group were common. Based on the communications we receive in the membership department, the desire to find new employment hasn’t changed much in the past six years.

Now entering my seventh year as a licensed attorney, I’ve held three different jobs, and each time I was looking for a change, the job search seemed more daunting than before. From custom-writing each cover letter to tweaking resumes, job searching can be a job within itself. That’s why I wish that I had known about the NCBA’s online Career Center.

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A Heads Up: New Assumed Business Name Law

By Haley Haynes and Ann Wall

On June 2, 2017, Gov. Cooper signed House Bill 228, Postpone Assumed Name Revisions, S.L. 2017-23. This bill postpones the effective date for the new Assumed Business Name Act, codified at Article 14A of Chapter 66 of the General Statutes. The effective date is now Dec. 1, 2017. No new assumed business names can be filed under the old law after Dec. 1. Assumed business name certificates will still be filed at the Registers of Deeds’ offices, but may be effective for multiple counties. Our agency will be responsible for making a statewide online database of all assumed name certificates filed after Dec. 1, 2017.

Haynes is Deputy Secretary of State and Wall is the General Counsel for the Secretary of State’s office.

New Telephone Numbers at the Secretary of State

By  Ann Wall and Dwayne Beamon

Someone invented the telephone,

And interrupted a nation’s slumbers,

Ringing wrong but similar numbers.

~Ogden Nash, Look What You Did, Christopher

The N.C. Department of the Secretary of State both regrets and is pleased to inform you that all of our telephone numbers are changing. We regret it because we know it is going to be a frustrating change for those of you who call us often. We are pleased because the new system will enable us to better serve you, the citizens and businesses of North Carolina.

The State Department of Information Technology has mandated that all state agencies have to change all telephone systems and telephone numbers within the next two to four years. Taking into account the steadily increasing number of calls we are receiving without a matching increase in resources to answer those calls, we have decided to go ahead and make the change now.

The Secretary of State will be among the first 20 percent state agencies to make the switch to the new telephone system, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). We are viewing this as an opportunity to optimize our limited resources and improve customer service at the same time.

We anticipate the change to the new system beginning around June 20, 2017 and being completed by June 30, 2017. Effective on June 22, 2017, our new main telephone number will be:  (919) 814-5400.

Wall is the General Counsel, and Beamon, the Chief Information Officer, of the Secretary of State.

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