Appellate Update — and a Happy New Year

By Joe Murray

For the last post of the year, I’m doing my normal case roundup. It’s been several months since I last posted — thank you to everyone who submitted posts this fall! — so this is a long one. I’ve inserted which laws are addressed in each case if you’re looking for something specific. Finally, I wish everyone Happy Holidays and a great New Year.

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Eviction Diversion Programs and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

By Edward C. Boltz

With the publication of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, author Matthew Desmond has brought increasing attention both nationwide and in North Carolina to the growing eviction crisis. See Evicted, (last visited Dec. 7, 2018). With increasing housing prices and gentrification, stagnant incomes, and slashed budgets for public housing, this problem is especially acute in North Carolina. Among large cities in the United States — those with populations greater than 100,000 — there were eight North Carolina cities in the worst 100 cities by eviction rate in 2016. Eviction Rankings, Eviction Lab, (last visited Dec. 7, 2018). In Greensboro, which had the 7th highest eviction rate among large cities in the nation, 8.4 percent of renters were evicted in 2016, with nearly 1,400 Summary Ejectment filings every month. Stephen J. Sills, Greensboro’s Eviction Crisis, UNC Greensboro Ctr for Housing & Cmty. Stud., (Aug. 15, 2018). Winston-Salem and Fayetteville were among the worst twenty large cities; Charlotte, High Point and Durham in the worst fifty; and Wilmington and Raleigh in the worst 100.

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Register Now For the Corporate Counsel Section CLE and Annual Meeting Jan. 25

One of the main ways in-house counsel distinguish themselves from their outside counsel is by bridging the gap between legal and business concerns.  It’s not enough to be good lawyers — we must also be valued and trusted business partners to our clients.

To further develop our abilities in this role, the CLE Committee is thrilled to present this year’s Corporate Counsel Section CLE and Annual Meeting: Taking Care of Business: How Good Lawyers Become Great Business Partners.”

Here’s a glimpse of what we have in store for you on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, at the Bar Center in Cary or live via webcast:

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Alimony Video Podcast Series: Gray Divorce, Cohabitation and New Tax Laws

Alimony is an ever-changing aspect of divorce law. Watch a new, three-part video podcast series with NCBA Family Law Section Communications Co-chairs Ryan Schultz, Jessica Hefner, and Ketan Soni as they discuss three evolving aspects of alimony.

Click here to view video conversations about alimony in the context of gray divorce, how cohabitation works with terminating alimony, and how tax laws taking effect in 2019 will impact how you think about alimony, deductibility, ability to pay and structuring other resolutions.

Google Advanced Search Tips for Lawyers



By Catherine Sanders Reach

Most people use the Google search engine every day to look up information on everything from restaurant reviews to driving directions to the airspeed velocity of a laden swallow. In fact, the word google (lower case G) officially appeared as a verb in the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006.  The free web is especially useful for “ready reference” materials like census results, information about businesses and individuals, sample documents, government information and more. It can also be a great way to get up to speed on (or keep up with) an area of law by accessing the wealth of legal blogs, scholarly resources and substantive bar association publications available for free online. Lawyers will find that a familiarity with advanced search features of the Google search engine can help unearth useful information in a very short amount of time.

The Google search engine is designed to be easy and intuitive. They are constantly refining the search algorithm to help users find the most relevant information based on the keywords. While a basic search will yield great results, it will often yield too many results to adequately review. There are number of ways to filter and refine a search in Google to narrow them more specifically to meet the needs of the inquiry – without having to read thousands of results. Here are a few to memorize:

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Compassion in the Legal Profession: A Tale of Hope at Christmas

By Alicia Mitchell-Mercer

Few of us work in an area of law where calls to our offices are initiated by clients because something wonderful happened. For most legal professionals, that initial phone call from a potential client is literally an act of desperation. Their lives are currently in a state of chaos and they need someone to fix it. They need someone to understand why they are so angry or depressed. They need to feel heard and validated. Most legal clients are going through one of the most devastating and difficult periods of their lives. Perhaps there has been a failed marriage, they’ve been charged with a crime, a loved one has died, they have been injured, they are in the middle of litigation that could ruin them financially, they have been assaulted, or any number of other traumatic life events.

Have you ever felt like your firm seems to attract the most unhinged people that humanity has to offer? I know I have felt that way at times. As a legal professional it’s very easy to become jaded or desensitized to a client’s needs and concerns after years of dealing with their adversities. Sometimes they are unreasonable regarding their expectations. Sometimes they are just emotionally fragile. This does not mean that there is anything innately wrong with our clients – at least no more than the next human being. It just means that when we go through extremely stressful events, like a failed marriage, it can be difficult to process all of those emotions and make logical well-thought-out decisions.

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Biltmore Offers a Fresh Take On Annual Meeting

By James W. Kilbourne Jr.

Last week, a white blanket fell upon the grounds of the Biltmore Estate.  The silence of new fallen snow covered the land and buildings as far as you could see.

It will not stay quiet forever, because in a few short months those same grounds and buildings will be filled with lawyers!  For the first time ever, the North Carolina Bar Association will hold its annual meeting in Asheville at Biltmore.  The largest private residence in the United States will host the largest gathering of attorneys and legal professionals in North Carolina.

To-do List For
Annual Meeting at Biltmore

  • Mark the dates on your calendar:
    June 20 – June 23, 2019
  • Book your hotel today. (Hotels are filling up fast; don’t miss your opportunity.)
  • Become a sponsor.
  • Check out to make a list of the things you want to experience.
  • Watch for more information in the coming months.

The Annual Meeting of the North Carolina Bar Association has been the single occasion where attorneys of North Carolina from all practice areas and all locations can gather together.  As this year’s theme will revolve around the wellness of legal professionals, the setting at Biltmore makes the event a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  As the brochure explains, “When George Vanderbilt created Biltmore, he envisioned a country retreat where family and friends could escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life to spend quality time together.”

We will still enjoy the opportunity to visit Asheville and the mountains, but with a new twist.  Centered at the new Amherst at Deerpark facility, the guests at the Annual Meeting will spread out across the grounds of Biltmore to the Inn on Biltmore Estate™, the Village Hotel, the Mansion, the Gardens, the Winery, the Farm, Antler Hill Village, and even the Land Rover Experience to experience unique opportunities and fellowship.

We hope to see our fellow NCBA members in June.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let Your IP Mind Grow!

By Angela Doughty

Planning ahead for events can be frightful, but our section has 2019 plans that are delightful! As long as you love IP so, join us for our events that are a go!

February 7 at 11 a.m. for our Tri-City Meeting and Lunch Event in Raleigh, Winston-Salem, and Charlotte.  The specific meeting and lunch locations will be announced early next year.

March 7 for an event featuring the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Commissioner of Trademarks, Ms. Mary Denison.  The event will be held in the afternoon at the Bar Center and will be followed by a social event.

April 5 in Charlotte for our Annual CLE Meeting. We will be partnering with the Sports & Entertainment Law Section to provide diverse CLE program options.  As always, we will have a section networking event the evening before and invite everyone to join us.

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The Newest Forms Of Ransomware and How To Protect Your Business From Them

By Chris Michalec

This article details how dangerous ransomware is, how it could harm your business, and what you should do to protect your data.

The Situation

Ransomware is now one of the top security concerns for businesses and organizations of all sizes. For example, the City of Atlanta was recently hit with a ransomware attack called SamSam. SamSam crippled some important departments like Atlanta’s court system, their sewer infrastructure requests, and their water billing department.

The attackers who deploy SamSam are known for clever, high-yield approaches. This, combined with the City’s lack of preparedness, explains why the infection was so debilitating.

Experts are telling us that SamSam will strike again. Unlike many forms of ransomware that spread via phishing attacks where individuals inadvertently invite the attack, SamSam exploits IT system vulnerabilities and cracks weak passwords. These ransomware attackers have made $1 million in less than six months.

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To Dissolve or Not to Dissolve

By Benjamin W. Baldwin

The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently addressed a claim asserting a shareholder’s right to a judicial dissolution of a business corporation in Brady v. Van Vlaanderen, 2018 WL 3977437 (N.C. Ct. App. August 21. 2018).

In Brady, the plaintiff was a shareholder in a family business, United Tool & Stamping Company of North Carolina, Inc. (“United Tool”). At the time the plaintiff’s claims arose, and after giving effect to a conversion of nonvoting stock to voting common stock, all of the voting common stock of United Tool was divided among the plaintiff, her siblings and her in-laws, and the plaintiff held a one-third interest in this voting stock, which regularly paid substantial dividends over the years.

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