Welcome to the New Professional Wellness Committee

Helping Lawyers Stay Healthy, From Law School Through Retirement

Sarah Nagae

Julie Beavers

By Sarah Nagae and Julie Beavers

One of NCBA President Jackie Grant’s points of focus for this bar year is making sure that lawyers of all ages and stages of practice have the information and support they need to take care of themselves, as well as their clients. To that end, we are happy to introduce the newly formed Professional Wellness Committee.

Under Jackie’s direction, the Transitioning Lawyers Commission (TLC) and the Lawyer Effectiveness & Quality of Life Committee (LEQL) have merged into one group, named the Professional Wellness Committee (PWC).  Julie Beavers and Sarah Nagae are honored and excited to serve as co-chairs of the PWC.  Julie comes from the Transitioning Lawyers’ side, having been an active member of the TLC for the past several years.  Sarah has a background in the wellness field and has spoken at many NCBA annual meetings and other CLE events on attorney health and mindfulness.

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Insolvency Clients and a Potential IRS Trust Fund Penalty Interview

By Kenneth B. Dantinne

You have a client that calls you in a panic. She owns a small business that is currently in a chapter 11 case. Things have been going well for the client as you proceed towards confirmation of a plan. The automatic stay has helped tremendously in keeping company creditors at bay while increasing revenue and reducing expenses. So why the panic-stricken call?

I received one such call not long ago: the client had an IRS Revenue Officer (“RO”) appear at her business — unannounced — and demand an interview due to unpaid taxes. According to the RO, it did not matter that my client was in bankruptcy; the automatic stay did not apply, and the IRS had asked the RO to go to my client’s office. The RO was there to conduct a “Trust Fund Interview,” and there was nothing to prevent her from moving forward. After a brief discussion, the RO agreed to move the interview back a few days so I could attend the interview with my client. I had two days to figure out what, exactly, a Trust Fund Interview entailed.

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SLD Inaugural Blog Post: Fall Meeting Nov. 8-10, Pro Bono Project Details and More

Senior Lawyers Division Chair Erwin Fuller

Dear Senior Lawyer Division Members:

Welcome to Fall 2018 and a new SLD program year.  I hope that you all had a pleasant summer and that many of you have a special summer 2018 event memory.  I’m in that group since I had a BIG birthday in July and my children and grandchildren arranged a birthday celebration weekend for the whole Fuller family at Fontana Lake in western North Carolina in early August where I got to ride on a tube pulled by a power boat (with me hanging on for dear life) together with my youngest grandchild (7½)!

Our hearts are heavy as we think about the citizens of our state living in eastern North Carolina (many of whom are SLD members) who have suffered devastating damage and loss from Hurricane Florence winds and rainfall, and I know that SLD members who were spared this tragedy will be reaching out with financial and other assistance for storm victims in the coming weeks and months.

I am excited to tell you about the SLD 2018 Fall Meeting which will take place in Salisbury during the weekend of Nov. 8-10.  We are planning an interesting event which will combine a three-hour CLE video replay component on Friday morning, Nov. 9, three interesting and enlightening speakers (non-CLE) on Saturday morning, Nov. 10, a fine group of dining experiences plus visits to local sites on Friday and Saturday, and a celebration dinner at the Salisbury Country Club on Friday evening, Nov. 9, following a reception at the home of Glenn and Susan Ketner which is within sight of the celebration dinner venue.  To top things off, you will have a trolley transport opportunity as we move from place to place during that meeting. Click here for more details.

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Welcome to the Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Section Blog!

By Brooks Rainey Pearson

Starting a few years ago, the Bar Association began to offer each Section the chance to move its newsletter content online to its own Section blog page. This year we decided to make that transition. We hope that a digital option will allow for faster, more robust sharing of information.

A huge thank you to Amber Nimocks at the Bar Association, and to our 2018-2019 communications co-chairs, Laura Truesdale, Hayes Finley, and Matt Tynan for making this transition happen.

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EENR Section Announces Winners of the 2018 Sustainability Essay Contest

The North Carolina Bar Association’s Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Section is pleased to announce the winners of its 2018 Sustainability Essay Contest, which focused this year on the following topic:

“Explain the tradeoffs in the use of biomass.  Tradeoffs include: their impact on the environment; their relative ‘carbon neutrality’; their impacts on surrounding communities, including job creation and environmental justice concerns.  Conclude whether, in light of these tradeoffs, we should use the biofuel you analyzed as a renewable energy source in North Carolina.”

A link to the full essay prompt can be found here.  All of the entries came from high school students across the state of North Carolina, and we appreciate all of the students who participated!  Please join us in congratulating this year’s winners.

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You’re Invited to Celebrate Conflict Resolution Week

By Nancy Black Norelli

Dear NC Mediators,

On Thursday, Oct. 18, the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission (NCDRC) will host a reception in honor of Conflict Resolution Week. To kick off our celebration week, there will be a special proclamation given by Chief Justice Mark Martin. The reception will take place at the N.C. Judicial Center (901 Corporate Center Drive, Raleigh) from 8:30 – 10 a.m.

The first annual Up and Coming Mediator Award will be presented by NCDRC staff to Mr. Ketan Soni in honor and appreciation of his dedication and service to mediation in North Carolina.

Please reply to this email by Wednesday, October 10, to let us know whether you plan to attend.

RSVP by Wednesday, October 10: YES – I plan to attend   |   NO – I am unable to attend


Catherine Reach, Visionary Legal Tech Leader, To Join NCBA Staff As CPM Director

By Erik Mazzone
NCBA Membership Experience, Senior Director

I am super excited to share with you that we have hired a new Director of the Center for Practice Management. Catherine Sanders Reach, Director of Law Practice Management and Technology for the Chicago Bar Association and former Director of the Legal Technology Resource Center for the American Bar Association, will serve as our new CPM Director beginning on Oct. 31.

I couldn’t be more pleased and proud to have Catherine join the NCBA. She is one of the most widely respected law practice management advisors in the country. She was an inductee into the inaugural class of the Fastcase 50 – an award which recognizes the year’s “smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries, and leaders in the law.”

Catherine Sanders Reach

Catherine is also a fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, which honors extraordinary achievement in law practice management and in stimulating innovation in the delivery of legal services. She received her Bachelor of Arts (English) and Masters of Library and Information Studies from the University of Alabama.

Catherine has been an highly sought after speaker and volunteer with the ABA, having served as a member of the Law Practice Futures Initiative, a member of the Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, and is currently serving as a Vice Chair of TECHSHOW, one of the largest legal technology conferences in the world.

Qualifications and accolades aside, Catherine has been a gracious colleague, insightful mentor (including to me, which is vexing because she is younger than I am), and a generous leader in the law practice management community. She’s been a good friend to the NCBA and has spoken at our programs many times over the past years. Catherine is a great addition for our team, and I know once you get to know and work with her, you will be excited about her joining us as I am.

Employment Litigators as Peacemakers

By Tara Muller

Employment litigators see a broad range of legal disputes, from sexual harassment to discrimination to breach of contract. They valiantly fight for their clients, gain subject matter expertise, and ultimately become trusted advocates in the fight to achieve justice. But even more importantly? From the trenches, they gain invaluable insight into the inner workings of the office, plant, factory, or farm. They see it all—from shoddy workplace policy enforcement to nasty bosses to smoke break brawls. Can those zealous advocates use their unique, birds-eye view of conflict in the workplace to help out before suit is filed? Or will they just be peacemaking themselves out of a job?

Having observed workplace conflict as a litigator and mediator for nearly 20 years, I believe it is possible, and maybe even lucrative, for litigators to advocate for their clients outside the courtroom. As any employment mediator will tell you, most workplace conflict stems from improper risk avoidance techniques. Sure, some recent SCOTUS cases weaken collective bargaining and restrict certain types of lawsuits, but workplace anger nevertheless will continue to boil over until someone addresses the underlying hostility—today’s workers, often for good reason, feel oppressed, ignored, and powerless. Employment litigators empower both workers and employers by providing them a voice—but those litigators need not wait until suit is filed to get involved.

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Paralegal Call to Action: Volunteer With Disaster Legal Services or FEMA Recovery Centers, and Clothing Drive Continues

The North Carolina Bar Association Paralegal Division is participating in various ways to help the victims of Hurricane Florence.  In addition to the Professional Clothing Drive, the Division is excited to announce two additional volunteer opportunities.

Division members are invited to participate in the North Carolina Disaster Legal Services hotline as phone intake volunteers and/or to help with the FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers, providing information, resources and referrals only (volunteers do not provide legal advice or counsel). This is a fantastic opportunity for paralegals. Links with more information and to sign-up are below:

  • Disaster Legal Services Hotline, phone intake: Volunteer HERE
  • FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers, information and resource tables: Volunteer HERE

The Division is also continuing its professional clothing drive. The drive’s goal is to assist paralegals, legal assistants, legal support staff, court staff and attorneys get back on their feet as they return to work, hopefully to provide at least one outfit to replace attire lost due to hurricane damage or flooding. The Division will be accepting donations of clean, gently worn or new items, including:

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When Are Meal Expenses Nondeductible Entertainment?

By Herman Spence III

The IRS recently issued Notice 2018-76 to provide transitional guidance on the deductibility of certain business meal expenses.  Taxpayers may rely on the Notice until regulations are issued.

1. Interim guidance. Under the Notice, taxpayers may deduct 50% of an otherwise allowable business meal expense if (a) the expense is ordinary and necessary and incurred in carrying on a trade or business, (b) the expense is not lavish or extravagant, (c) the taxpayer, or an employee of the taxpayer, is present at the furnishing of the food or beverages, (d) the food and beverages are provided to a current or potential customer, client, or business contact, and (e) where food and beverages are provided during or at an entertainment activity, the food and beverages are purchased separately from the entertainment or the cost is stated separately.

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