NCBA Members In Focus
Ask Deborah Sperati if she would rather run a craft brewery or practice law as a partner at Poyner Spruill, and she answers with a question: “Why choose when you can do both?”
As co-founder, legal counsel and chief cultural officer of Koi Pond Brewery in Rocky Mount, Sperati blends her passion for craft beer and her 18 years of experience as a civil and commercial litigator. A North Carolina native who grew up in Greenville, Sperati earned her law degree from UNC School of Law and has practiced for 18 years. At Poyner Spruill, she leads the Brewery, Winery and Distillery Practice Group, which offers her critical insight into the challenges facing the state’s growing group of beer, wine and spirits artisans. Here, she offers some insight on how she keeps these dual pursuits alive.
David M. Furr is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association’s newly created Privacy and Data Security Committee, which begins work in the upcoming bar year.
By David M. Furr
Traditional retail in the United States has had two distinct issues negatively affecting its survival in this decade. First, the proliferation of E-commerce companies has severely reduced the profitability of the traditional brick and mortar businesses as shoppers’ habits are fundamentally changing. In the first four months of this year, nine retailers have filed for bankruptcy — Payless Shoes, hhgregg, The Limited, RadioShack, BCBG, Wet Seal, Gormans, Eastern Outfitters and Gander Mountain — with the closing of hundreds of stores.1 Many other retailers are shuttering stores at such a record pace that 2017 is being bannered as the year of retail bankruptcies.2
Second, retail has been particularly hard hit by cybersecurity breaches because of the wealth of Personal Identity Information (PII) collected and, unfortunately retained, by the retailers. The 2013 massive compromise of retail giant Target’s systems has been litigated in the courts and subject to an extensive Multi-State Attorney General task force action that has produced record payouts to plaintiffs.
The purpose of this paper is to use the Target litigation as a backdrop of the cybersecurity measures a business must have in place if it is to protect adequately the PII of its lifeblood — the customers. While common tort and specific statutory theories serve as the foundation for these claims, the sophistication of the Plaintiff counsels’ deep dive into the actual technology facts serve as an important road map to safe cybersecurity.
By Joyce Brafford
Your law firm’s security has been breached, and you see that a scammer is trying to steal client funds. It may be wire fraud, a phishing attack or something totally different. But you know that the firm’s security is being tested against a bad actor. You must take action. What should you do, and what are your ethical obligations?
I reached out to Deanna Brocker of the Brocker Law Firm in Raleigh, and she shared some practical advice for anyone who finds themselves in this situation. The Brocker Law Firm concentrates in professional and occupational licensing, ethics and disciplinary matters. The firm also advises and represents professional clients in various related areas, including prospective ethics counseling, private ethics opinions, expert witness testimony, firm disputes, North Carolina State Bar grievance defense and attorney discipline defense.
By Russell Rawlings
Rumor has it the incidence of childhood and adolescent obesity has reached epidemic proportions in this country. That would stand to reason, considering the fact that obesity has also become rampant within the adult population.
In other words, the kids ain’t driving themselves to the grocery store.
I am neither a physician nor a psychologist, so nothing I would ever say about weight and wellness should ever be mistaken for professional advice, especially when it comes to childhood and adolescent obesity.
But I have lived through both, and although it has been nearly 40 years since I experienced my transformative weight loss, I will never forget what it was like to be young and overweight. I will never forget what it was like to be the “fat boy.”
By Kearns Davis
Fred Lind, Chief Public Defender for Guilford County, recently shared a letter from a juror:
Last week I had the privilege of serving on a jury for a case defended by Mr. A. Brennan Aberle. I was so impressed by his performance on this case I felt I had to put something on the record. At the start Mr. Aberle promised a defense based on facts and reason, and he delivered on that promise. …
I am often worried that justice is only for those who can afford it, but Mr. Aberle’s effective defense of his client reassures me that the freedom of ALL residents of Guilford County is well-protected by your office. I don’t believe a better defense could have been purchased at any price.
“My Cousin Vinny” (1992) is a legal film classic. But its caricature of a stammering, timid, poorly prepared public defender reinforced a stereotype that is widely shared but wildly wrong. As those who appear regularly in criminal court know, public defenders are experts. It is the public defender who spends every day in the same courthouse, working with judges and prosecutors and handling the cases that are staples for indigent clients. One United States district judge, who observes skilled, experienced counsel every day, describes the Federal Public Defender’s office in his district as, “lawyer for lawyer, the best trial law firm in the State of North Carolina.”
By Jeff Bradford
I’m presently in my fifth year on the board of directors for BarCARES, a wonderful non-profit that provides a wide array of confidential counseling services to lawyers and their families.
My BarCARES story began on July 15, 2009. I was driving home from a nurse expert deposition in Greensboro when I met Gerline. I met her at about 5 p.m. in the left-hand lane of Highpoint Road, between a Toys R Us and a Bojangles’. I was traveling about 45 mph when she turned out of the opposite left-hand lane, through the turn lane, and directly in front of me. I had no time to react. I just hit the brakes, decelerated maybe 5 or 10 mph, and then slammed into her. My airbag deployed as I caromed across several lanes of traffic to my right, pushing her along with me. It was extremely frightening. We ended up directly in front of Bojangles’.
By Joyce Brafford
A malicious program called WannaCry has affected more than 200,000 people, businesses and institutions in 150 countries in recent days. Through a bit of luck, an antivirus professional found a kill switch for the primary program. But other variants are still working. Global attacks may have slowed, but they haven’t stopped. Your law firm needs to update its software and get prepared for the inevitable onslaught of similar programs in the future.
Here’s what we know about WannaCry, and what you need to know to stay safe.
Name and Aliases: WannaCry, WannaDecryptor, WCry and WannaCrypt
Operating Systems at Risk: Windows, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003 and Windows 8. The latest version of Windows does not have the exploited vulnerability. If you are running any of the unsupported systems, or Windows 8, download the security patch immediately. You can find guidance from Microsoft here.
By Russell Rawlings
The original version of this column appeared in the newsletter of the Communications Section of the National Association of Bar Executives (NABE) as a tribute to the young professional women serving on the section’s executive council. The sentiments contained therein, however, also apply to the thousands of working mothers who count themselves among the membership and staff of the North Carolina Bar Association.
My first big boss was a woman. Her name was Elizabeth Swindell, and she owned The Wilson Daily Times. That is where I began my professional career as a sportswriter in 1974 – before many of the women I’m writing about in this column were born.
Miss Swindell, as we knew her, would never weigh more than 100 pounds, yet she remains to this day the toughest woman I ever met. In addition to her duties at the newspaper, she was also a mother, grandmother and, by the time I started working for her, a great-grandmother.
By Joyce Brafford
What’s your average billable rate? $250? $450? What if you could generate an additional two hours every week? What about five hours? Hours reclaimed with the assistance of software add up. We’re talking about a student loan payment, a vacation for your family, or even the ability to hire another staff member.
That money – those opportunities – are on the line if you forgo basic training on your software. I’m not asking you to be a computer engineer. I’m suggesting that you are missing important resources within the programs you use every day.
For instance, how quickly can you:
- Remove all the unusual formatting from a document?
- Convert a document to a PDF, then convert it back to Word?
- Send a form letter to a client using a template and merge fields?