Category: Government & Public Sector

What Is a ‘Government Attorney’?

By Nicolette Fulton

When meeting a new person, the question I am most often asked after “What is your name?” is “What do you do?”  The answer to that question is not always simple. The simplest answer one can give is one’s title, “I am a/an _____,” filling in the blank with a range of positions, including:  City Attorney, County Attorney, Attorney General, General Counsel for (State Agency), or Clerk.

The first response I get is usually, “Is that like a DA?” or “What does that mean?” I explain that I am an attorney for the government, what our roles are, and “No, I am not a District Attorney.” When it comes to the public, and our colleagues, understanding what it means to be a member of the government and public sector is perplexing.  We are not defined by a practice area, but by our titles or roles (particularly for those in private practice). According to a recent Thomson Reuters survey, the average government attorney works on 32 different matters every week. Government Law Departments 2017, Thomson Reuters. This furthers the “jack of all trades” mentality that dominates many government attorneys. Id. While some do have specialty areas, a large percentage of government attorneys and those in the public sector do not have the specialization enjoyed by those in private practice. However, an alternate viewpoint could be that a government practice opens one to a breadth of knowledge not otherwise available.

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How the G&PS Section Scholarship Helped Elon Law Student Have the Best Experience Of Her Life

By Chelsea Townsend

Editor’s note: The Government & Public Sector Section of the North Carolina Bar Association awards up to three scholarships each year to law students who work as an unpaid interns in a North Carolina government law department. Townsend is a 2L at Elon University School of Law. 

This summer I had the pleasure of interning with the Wake County Public Defender’s Office. When asked about this experience I have a hard time figuring out where to even start. The best way that I could explain my summer is to describe it as “the best experience of my life.” I spent many of my days visiting clients in jail, drafting memorandums, serving subpoenas and conducting investigations. My favorite part of this summer was the actual hands-on experience that I gained. I spent my first year of law school learning how to essentially be a lawyer. However, it is important to note that there are some things that cannot be taught in the confines of a classroom. This internship gave me the opportunity to work on real cases with real attorneys, involving real people, who had real issues. It is one thing to learn how to conduct client interviews in class but it is a completely different thing to actually do it. Within the first week of my internship I found myself doing many of these legal tasks independently. Every day was a learning experience, and for that I am grateful.

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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.

Incentive Support For Retail Projects: Yes Or No?

By Ernest C. Pearson

Since the early 1990s, when the use of incentives to stimulate economic growth began to be used more frequently in North Carolina, there has been a question as to whether state or local government incentive programs can and should be used to attract retail projects.

With one exception, at the state level, incentive programs by statute or administrative rules exclude retail projects from incentive support. In the mid 1980s, the General Assembly adopted the first job creation tax credit program. That statute did not exclude retail as a type of project that could obtain the tax credits. After a company that built a fast food restaurant claimed the tax credits, the statute was amended to exclude retail projects. Since then, all state incentive grant and tax credit programs have excluded retail projects from consideration.

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New Rules Of Appellate Procedure For North Carolina

Government & Public Sector Section

By Jennifer M. Jones

As winter turns to spring, it’s a good time to freshen up on the N.C. Rules of Appellate Procedure! Did you know that new rules went into effect on Jan. 1, 2017?  You will want to review these new rules before drafting your next appellate brief!

Perhaps the biggest change is that your likely go-to font, Courier, no longer complies with the rules. Your brief will also need a certificate of compliance for word count. The new rules also cover how en banc review will work.  Please read the ARC Memo On New Rules for additional changes.  Please also note that some minor changes to Rule 7 went into effect on March 16, 2017.

 

Quicksands and Cutting Edges Of the Law: Do Municipal Utility Customers Possess Due Process and Vested Rights To Continued Sewerage Service?

Note from Jon Mize, NCBA Government & Public Sector Section blog editor: Below please find an article from John C. Cooke examining the implications of a recent North Carolina Court of Appeals case on due process and the vested interest rights applicable to public enterprise customers. The article is shared from the North Carolina Land Use Litigator information initiative (https://nclanduse.blogspot.com/ ) published by Mr. Cooke and Michael C. Thelen.  

john-c-cooke-1By John C. Cooke

Introduction

Sometimes, I read a court’s opinion and put it aside because it is thought provoking beyond its facts and outcome.  The case of United States Cold Storage, Inc. v. Town of Warsaw, __ N.C. App. ___, 784 S.E. 2d 575 (April 5, 2016) falls into this category.

Background

United States Cold Storage is interesting from several angles, but this post explores only one – the possibility that governmental utility customers possess due process and common law vested rights to continued utility service.

The facts were simple.  United States Cold Storage (USCS) owned a facility located outside the corporate limits of the Town of Warsaw (Town).  Through a contract with a county government, USCS secured Town sewer service and a promise that the Town would not annex the facility for seven (7) years.

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Economic Liberty Challenges In the 21st Century

By Drew Erteschik and J.M. Durnovich

erteschik_drew_LHIntroduction

Most of us left law school with the understanding that so-called “economic liberty” challenges to state regulations will generally fail under rational basis review.  That area of the law, however, has changed dramatically.

This article looks at the change in three parts:

The first part offers a brief refresher on the history of economic liberty challenges in the 20th century.

The second part describes a flurry of recent cases involving successful economic liberty challenges on substantive due process grounds.

The third part examines some possible legal and policy explanations for the modern trend.

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