Checking In: Oct. 29, 2019

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Robinson Bradshaw Hires 10 New Charlotte and RTP Attorneys

Brendan Biffany joins the firm’s Charlotte office. In the past, Biffany worked as a valuation analyst in public accounting. He holds a bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, from High Point University and a Juris Doctorate, summa cum laude, from Duke University.

 

 

 

Chelsea Evans joins the firm’s Charlotte office. Before joining the firm, Evans clerked for Chief Justice Donald Beatty of the South Carolina Supreme Court. She holds both a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, and a Juris Doctorate, magna cum laude, from the University of South Carolina.

 

 

 

Amanda Fannin joins the firm’s Charlotte office, focusing her practice on corporate law. She holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from North Carolina State University and a Juris Doctorate, magna cum laude, from Duke University.

 

 

 

Jared Taylor joins the firm’s Charlotte office, focusing his practice on corporate law. Taylor previously worked as an associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York City. He holds a bachelor’s degree with distinction from the University of North Carolina, a Juris Doctorate from Columbia Law School, and a Master of Laws with merit from King’s College.

 

 

Ethan White joins the firm’s Charlotte office. Before joining the firm, White clerked for Chief Judge Louis Bledsoe III of the North Carolina Business Court. He holds a bachelor’s degree with honors from Rollins College and a Juris Doctorate, magna cum laude, from Wake Forest University.

 

 

 

Demi Lorant Bostian joins the firm’s Research Triangle Park (RTP) office, focusing her practice on corporations and individuals in complex civil and regulatory disputes. She holds a bachelor’s degree with honors and highest distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Juris Doctorate from Columbia University.

 

 

 

Monica Burks joins the firm’s RTP office. Before joining the firm, Burks clerked for Chief Justice Cheri Beasley of the North Carolina Supreme Court. She holds a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from North Carolina State University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of North Carolina.

 

 

 

Alexa Fleming joins the firm’s RTP office. She holds both a bachelor’s degree, cum laude, and a Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from Duke University.

 

 

 

 

Matthew Lenora joins the firm’s RTP office, focusing his practice on corporate law. Lenora previously worked as an associate attorney at Smith Anderson. He holds a bachelor’s with the highest honors from the University of Oklahoma and both a Juris Doctorate and a Master of Laws from Duke University.

 

 

 

Allen O’Rourke has joined Robinson Bradshaw as the co-chair of the firm’s Cybersecurity and Privacy Practice Group. O’Rourke is a former assistant U.S. attorney experienced in criminal and national security investigations, and he has IAPP Certified Information Privacy Professional certifications for both the United States and Europe. He holds a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Columbia University, and a Juris Doctorate from Harvard University.

 

 

 

Firms Announce Name Change, Appointments

The firm Dungan, Kilbourne & Stahl has recently changed its name to Allen Stahl + Kilbourne after hiring Derek Allen. Allen’s practice focuses on land use and development. Founder Robert Dungan will continue to support the development and expansion of the firm. Phone numbers for the firm and its attorneys will not change, but a new website, asklawnc.com, is currently under construction.

 

 

Zachary Anstett has joined the Raleigh office of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog as an associate attorney in the Workers’ compensation practice. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from Campbell University.

 

 

 

Melanie Huffines has returned to Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog, now working in the Wilmington office of as an associate attorney. She previously clerked at the firm while working her way through law school. Huffines’ practice will focus on civil and criminal defense. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University and a Juris Doctorate, magna cum laude, from Campbell University.

 

 

John Wright has joined the Charlotte office of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog as an associate attorney, focusing his practice on employment and municipal law. He holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Miami.

 

 

 

Lisa LeFante has joined Triangle Smart Divorce, bringing with her over 22 years of family law experience. LeFante is a certified parenting coordinator, and she holds a Juris Doctorate from Cornell University.

 

 

 

 

Compiled by Sidney Shank, NCBA Communities Administrative Assistant 

Q&A With Fastcase CEO Ed Walters

By Catherine Sanders Reach
NCBA members have access to Fastcase, a robust 50-state legal research database, as a membership benefit. Soon Fastcase will be rolling out a new default version to all members. Fastcase 7 brings all sorts of new features and upgrades. We sat down with Ed Walters, CEO and co-founder of Fastcase, to talk about what’s new and the ever-expanding offerings from the platform.

Q: Ed, tell us a little about yourself
A: I’m a storytelling lawyer from Louisiana. After law school, I was a patent litigator in Washington, D.C., but my job really was to tell stories about science for judges with liberal arts backgrounds. My next-door neighbor at the firm (Phil Rosenthal) and I left Covington & Burling in DC almost exactly 20 years ago (!) to start Fastcase.

Up until last year, I got to be a soccer coach for my son, which was a delight!  I’ve also been teaching a class called The Law of Robots at the Georgetown University Law Center in the fall, and at Cornell Law School’s new campus in New York City in the spring. This fall I’m teaching The Law of Autonomous Vehicles at Georgetown Law.

Q: What are the enhancements to Fastcase in version 7 you are most excited about?
A: I like being able to search across cases and statutes at the same time, or across everything in a state. Type-ahead search is great, too, especially when you’re trying to look up a case by its name or citation, and the search engine just autocompletes it. We’re pretty excited about the hundreds of new expert treatises we’ve just launched. And we’re just about to roll out our gigantic briefs, pleadings, and motions database – a great place to find templates for state and federal litigation.

I also like the Cloud Linking feature – you drag a Word or PDF document into Fastcase, and we automagically find all the caselaw citations and link them to a public version of the case, then return the document back in the same format, but with all the citations hyperlinked. It’s great when sending a brief to a court, or a marketing e-mail to clients, and they don’t need to be Fastcase subscribers to view the linked cases.

Q: How can Fastcase be used beyond legal research?
A: We’re rolling out some new alert services that can be used for business intelligence or marketing. So you can pull all the briefs filed by your firm in state or federal courts; see what kinds of litigation prospective clients have been engaged in, or what firms typically represent them. Or you can set alerts to find out immediately when clients have been sued.

Fastcase is launching a legal news service this fall called Law Street Media, focused on the business of law. And now we’re publishing original books like Joshua Walker’s On Legal AI, as well as deskbooks from bar associations such as the North Carolina Bar Association. And now, with our recently announced acquisition of bankruptcy forms tool NextChapter, we’re looking forward to expanding into more forms and workflow tools. We’re growing all the time, and there’s a lot more to Fastcase than just legal research.

Q: How is artificial intelligence impacting legal research? In Fastcase?
A: AI is great at bulk data operations and in finding patterns in large libraries of documents, as we’ve seen in e-discovery. Now you can see companies using AI to find answers to research questions or to run smarter natural language searches, or to understand the arguments in briefs.

We’re using AI on a lot of projects at Fastcase and Docket Alarm. In our Docket Alarm group, we’re pulling hundreds of millions of documents from PACER and state courts, converting them to text so that they’re searchable, and then extracting things like the judges, lawyers, and parties. Now you can full-text search documents from multiple PACER courts at once, or search by law firm, party, lawyer, or judge, because of information we’ve extracted using AI.

We’re also using AI at Fastcase to upgrade Authority Check and its negative history service, Bad Law Bot. We’re using AI to identify cases that have been reversed or overturned, using the language that courts use in those opinions. Independent research benchmarks the incumbent citators at about 67% accuracy – it will be interesting to see if AI can achieve higher accuracy than our current gold standard in citators.

Q: What is next on the horizon for Fastcase for NCBA members?
A: Our team is really into analytics right now – we’ve been building out analytics in our new Docket Alarm service as a way of understanding judges, law firms, and parties in a case. We’re looking forward to making these analytics available to everyone. We’re also excited about the briefs, pleadings, and motions database. At large firms, lawyers will search their document management system for sample motions before a certain court – we’re working on a similar system for small firms. Watch for some innovations in Fastcase online forms soon, too! I suppose after that, it’s time for Fastcase 8!


Join Fastcase expert Erin Page on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at noon to find out how you can take advantage of AI enhanced searching, saved searches and jurisdiction defaults, and even tweaking the algorithm to get the best search results for you. Lots to learn and more to love with the new enhancements of Fastcase 7. Click here to register.


Catherine Sanders Reach serves as director of the NCBA Center for Practice Management.

Pro Bono Spotlight: Kate McCullough

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Pro Bono Volunteer Spotlight: Kate McCullough
Pro Bono Project: NC LEAP

By Caroline Trautman
For attorneys working in business law who want to give back, it’s hard to think of a better opportunity than the NC Lawyers for Entrepreneurs Assistance Program (“NC LEAP”).

And when it comes to attorneys who have taken that opportunity, Kate McCullough immediately comes to mind.

Kate has been an active NC LEAP volunteer since she graduated from Elon University School of Law in 2017. NC LEAP, which is the only statewide program of its kind, provides legal services to low-wealth entrepreneurs. Through her work with NC LEAP, Kate has assisted business owners with a wide range of topics including contracts, trademark registration, company handbooks, operating agreements, and formation. She sat on a panel during the 7th Annual Business Summit – Business Q&A at Vance-Granville Community College.

Having a background in business, Kate knew that she wanted to focus on corporate, business, and contract law. Volunteering for NC LEAP helped Kate build experience in these practice areas soon after graduating while also doing something she has always loved – helping others in need. “NC LEAP provides an opportunity for individuals who may not have finances to seek financial or legal advice about building a business,” she said. She pointed out that starting a business requires a great deal of work, time, and resources that many people don’t have and that NC LEAP “really empowers people” through its services.

Kate has first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to start a business with limited resources, and this also drew Kate to NC LEAP. Kate started a non-profit of her own when she was living in Boston several years ago. Her charity, Wrapped Up in Sports, Inc., made nearly 1,000 sports-themed quilts out of Red Sox and other sports team jerseys and apparel for needy and sick children. The non-profit was such a hit that it even partnered with Fenway Park, which offered free space to women to make the quilts. The charity donated the quilts to hospitals and homeless shelters. Kate recalled that she got her non-profit off the ground with the help of a pro bono attorney who schooled her on things like Employee Identification Numbers, business incorporation basics, and contracts. She says that the dedicated attorney who helped her set up Wrapped Up In Sports inspired her to pay it forward once Kate earned her law degree.

Volunteering with NC LEAP also enhanced Kate’s career in business law. After graduating, she started working for the NC Community College System. Because NC LEAP clients are often from the Community College Small Business Center, she was able to help NC LEAP partner with community colleges throughout the state and also connect with entrepreneurs and talk with them about their legal needs. Kate now works in Winston-Salem as an in-house Contracts Manager with Collins Aerospace, a large company serving the aerospace and defense industry around the globe. Kate is a member of the NCBA Government/Public Section and also volunteers with Legal Aid.

Want to get involved with NC LEAP? Learn more at https://www.ncbarfoundation.org/our-programs/nc-leap/.

 

Caroline Trautman is a partner at Oak City Law and a member of the NCBA Pro Bono Committee.