A Message from the Chair

By Eleasa Allen

On Thursday, May 7, the Workers’ Compensation Section Council held its last quarterly meeting of the 2019-2020 Bar Year. Due to the ongoing public health situation, the meeting was held remotely via Zoom and telephone call-in, which as anyone who has participated in a multi-person virtual conference can confirm, was interesting, to say the least.

Although my term as Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Section is not yet over, it is nearing its end, which allows me to indulge in a bit of reflection. At the beginning of the Bar Year, my goals for the Section included providing quality continuing legal education opportunities, identifying a pro bono project for the Section to support, and creating numerous social/networking opportunities for our members. We were able to coordinate two social/networking opportunities in the first two-thirds of the Bar Year, but the recent public health concerns impacted our ability to move forward with our third event, a baseball game at the Greensboro Grasshoppers in late April. I am certainly disappointed that this event had to be canceled, but my sincere hope is that this will be rescheduled next spring. I look forward to enjoying baseball and beer with my colleagues in the Section.

Even without the baseball event, I remain very proud of the Section’s efforts this year. Based on the feedback we received, we really hit it out of the park {insert eye roll here} with our December and February CLEs! Work is already underway for next year’s CLE programs, which will be held on November 13, 2020 and February 5-6, 2021. Go ahead and mark your calendars and stay tuned for future announcements on these programs.  Additionally, as previously reported, at the February CLE/Annual Meeting, the Section raised and donated $4,900 to Kids’ Chance of North Carolina, and at the May 7 meeting, the Council voted to add an additional $500 to that total. As a Section, we feel strongly about supporting Kids’ Chance, and we encourage any members who are so inclined to make personal donations to this worthy organization. Finally, thanks to the efforts of our Pro Bono Committee, we have also promoted the North Carolina Bar Foundation’s NC Free Legal Answers program as an excellent pro bono opportunity that complements the support we continue to provide to Kids’ Chance of North Carolina.

So, all things considered, I would say our Section has had a pretty good year, and we’re not done yet!  Current Vice Chair Barry Jennings is working to coordinate a virtual event on May 28, 2020 that will provide an opportunity to share some tips and guidance on mediating and practicing in the current remote environment. The first announcement for this event has been circulated to the membership, and additional details will follow. We also have Council members working on blog posts to provide practice tips for conducting mediations and depositions remotely. If you have any pointers to add on these or any other topics that impact our practices, please reach out to the Communications Committee Co-chairs, Kyla Block (kblock@teaguecampbell.com) and Stase Vonsiatsky (stase.vonsiatsky@oxnerpermarlaw.com). The more helpful information we can share with one another, the better!

While the 2019-2020 Bar Year isn’t ending quite as I had envisioned it, I am, nevertheless, very proud of the work our Council has accomplished this year and look forward to finishing the next two months on a high note. I am extremely grateful for all the efforts of the Council members and the Executive Committee, and I look forward to supporting the Council, as well as Barry Jennings, Mark Leach, Heather Baker and Brian Elston as they step into their new leadership roles next year.