Slowing Down

By Marc E. Gustafson

I must admit this article began as a piece about slowing down to enjoy the holidays after I observed my almost five-year-old son napping on an airplane flying to see family. But then I thought about all the times I had heard someone (a preacher, a parent, an unsolicited stranger, a Hallmark commercial) extorting me to slow down, and I thought better of it.

Given that I was working on that flight, though, I started to think about ways I could slow down the practice of law, and maybe be a better lawyer for it.

Given the ever-present pressures of the billable hours (and the perennial jokes that go with earning a living in such a manner), it’s no surprise that lawyers are sensitive about time. We rush to draft closing documents, to serve discovery, to argue motions and to communicate with clients, colleagues and opposing counsel so that these tasks fit neatly into 1/10 of an hour increments.

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Checking In: Jan. 7, 2020

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By Sidney Shank

From left, Jeffrey Russell, Melissa Michaud, Colin Shive and Stephen Rawson.

Tharrington Smith Announces Four New Partners
Four associate attorneys—Melissa Michaud, Stephen Rawson, Jeffrey Russell, and Colin Shive—have been promoted to partners at Tharrington Smith in Raleigh. Michaud, Rawson, and Shive practice in the Education Law Section, and Russell practices in the Family Law Section.

Michaud has worked at Tharrington Smith since 2013, prior to which she taught middle school in eastern North Carolina through Teach for America. She holds a bachelor of arts in political science from Brown University and a juris doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Rawson has worked at Tharrington Smith since 2013, prior to which he was a middle school science teacher in Kentucky. He holds a bachelor of science in physics and a juris doctorate from Duke University.

Russell has worked at Tharrington Smith since 2013 and is a board-certified specialist in Family Law. He holds a bachelor of arts in political science from Furman university and a juris doctorate, magna cum laude, from Campbell University.

Shive has worked at Tharrington Smith since 2012, prior to which he clerked for the Honorable William Osteen, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. He holds a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Clemson University and a juris doctorate with high honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Pro Bono Volunteer Spotlight: Steve Epstein

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Pro Bono Project: Lawyer on the Line

By Rachel Royal
Steve Epstein considers it not only his duty as a lawyer, but his privilege, to provide pro bono service. “If not for me, who will do this work?” he questions. Since April 2010, Steve has spent his days as a Civil Litigation attorney at Poyner Spruill, LLP with a focus in Family Law. By contrast, his pro bono work is where he steps out of his everyday comfort zone to delve into landlord tenant issues and customer disputes with car dealerships. He does this through Lawyer on the Line, a partnership between the NC Bar Foundation and Legal Aid of North Carolina. Steve has been volunteering for Lawyer on the Line since its inception as the formerly known “Call 4All.” He handles approximately half a dozen calls per year, but he often assists the client well beyond the initial call, which has included writing demand letters, problem resolution, and even filing suit on the client’s behalf.

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Kevin Pratt

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Pro Bono Project: Lawyer on the Line

By Allison Standard Constance
NCBA member Kevin Pratt understands that pro bono work is an opportunity to demystify the legal process for clients and pave a way to communication that can resolve clients’ issues.  Pratt works on consumer cases with Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Lawyer on the Line program, and he also volunteers on landlord-tenant cases with Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte.  In his pro bono work, he finds that information gaps exist between clients and their corporate adversaries, and with representation, the free flow of information allows the parties to better understand the dispute and resolve it amicably.

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Glory Days

Before They Became Great Lawyers, These Three NCBA Members
Were Part Of The “Greatest High School Football Story Ever Told”

 

In their younger days, Chip Gibbons (with ball), Steve Coggins (60) and Bill Farris were part of “the greatest high school football story ever told.”

By Russell Rawlings

In a previous life, it was my good fortune to write a book about my childhood heroes, the Fike High School Cyclones of Wilson, state 4-A football champions of 1967, 1968 and 1969.

Little did I know, while working on “Cyclone Country: The Time, The Town, The Team,” that three of those players – Bill Farris, Steve Coggins and Chip Gibbons – would take on larger meaning in my career as members of the North Carolina Bar Association.

Their names are familiar to many within the legal profession.

Farris practiced with Farris & Farris (now Farris & Thomas) in Wilson for 23 years before becoming a District Court judge.

Coggins spent 25 years practicing in Raleigh, including the last 13 of those years as a partner with Parker Poe. He has been a partner with Rountree Losee in Wilmington since 2002.

Gibbons practiced in Wilson for one year with his father before joining Poyner Spruill in Raleigh, where he is a partner and highly regarded tax attorney.

In their previous lives of some 50 years ago, they were part of “the greatest high school football story ever told.” Individually their names will not likely be found in the record books, roles reserved for their head coach, Henry Trevathan, and their superstar running back, Carlester Crumpler, both of whom are members of the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame.

But collectively, in their youth as in their adult lives, all three have embodied what is meant when it is said that the sum is greater than its parts.

 

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Checking In: Dec. 20, 2019

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Compiled by Sidney Shank
Holly Benton has joined Smith Anderson’s Data Use, Privacy and Security team as counsel. She is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US) in addition to being certified in Healthcare Privacy Compliance (CHPC). She holds a bachelor of arts, magna cum laude, from Wellesley College and a juris doctorate from the University of Washington.

 

 

 

Jordan Bernstein has joined the Charlotte office of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog as an associate attorney. Her practice is focused on workers’ compensation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Ohio Wesleyan University and a Juris Doctorate, with honors, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

 

 

 

Martha Bradley joined the Asheville office of Hall Booth Smith as an associate attorney. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Juris Doctorate from Campbell University. Bradley currently serves on the Board of Governors for the North Carolina Bar Association.

 

 

 

Frank Emory Jr. has been named Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Novant Health. In the past, Emory has worked as a partner at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, an international law firm.

 

 

 

 

Patrick Hansen joins the Raleigh office of Harrity & Harrity. He specializes in patent applications in electrical, computer, and mechanical technologies.

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Crotts has joined the Charlotte office of Parker Poe, where she will work on the Health Care Industry Team as special counsel. She comes to Parker Poe from Wall Babcock LLP in Winston-Salem.

 

 

 

 

Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo LLP has opened its fifth office, located at 49 Broadway Street in downtown Asheville. Partner Kristie Hedrick, a Western North Carolina native, has relocated from the firm’s Raleigh office to lead this new Asheville office.

 

 

 

 

Nichole Hayden has been elected partner of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, effective Jan. 1, 2020. Her practice focuses on intellectual property. Hayden holds a Bachelor of Science, magna cum laude, from Wofford College and a Juris Doctorate with highest honors from Drake University.

 

 

 

 

Jason Kerr, alternative investments attorney, has joined the Charlotte office of Robinson Bradshaw. Before joining Robinson Bradshaw, Kerr worked as an attorney for Axiom in New York City. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a Juris Doctorate from Columbia Law School.

 

 

 

 

Robert Lindholm has been elected partner of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, effective Jan. 1, 2020. His practice focuses on government investigations, white collar defense, complex business litigation, and class action defense. Lindholm holds a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, from Union College and a Juris Doctorate, magna cum laude, from Albany Law School.

 

 

 

 

McCord Rayburn joins the Charlotte office of Harrity & Harrity. His practice focuses on patent preparation and prosecution in both domestic and international cases.

 

 

 

 

 

Bret Tingey joins the Raleigh office of Harrity & Harrity. He focuses his practice on patent preparation and prosecution for inventors in the mechanical and electrical technology fields.

 

 

 

 


Dan Hartzog, Dan Hartzog Jr., Katie Weaver Hartzog, Katherine Barber-Jones and Michael Cohen have recently left Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog and formed Hartzog Law Group. The office is located at 1903 N. Harrison Avenue, Suite 200, in Cary.

Dan Hartzog Jr.

Dan Hartzog

Katherine Barber-Jones

Katie Weaver Hartzog

Michael Cohen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankful

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By Stephanie Elliott

What I am thankful for? It’s easy to look around me and see a wonderful life. I have a safe and secure home, with a husband and son that love me. I am rich with friends who support, love and encourage me. I have a great job with a firm that appreciates my contributions to my team and supports me personally and professionally. I am an active member of a thriving church that allows me to practice my faith through music and service to my community. I am offered many volunteer opportunities and serve on boards with people that help me see the bigger picture of life. These are all easy things that I should be grateful to have every day. What else in my life is there to be grateful for?

I am grateful for the days when I struggle. These days teach me that I have to get up every day with the mindset to work hard and believe in myself. I changed firms this year, and for the first few months I was overwhelmed with learning the new cases and how to work within them. Almost a year later, I am happy and fulfilled. Those moments of insecurity propelled me to put my head down and work. I have learned to lean into the uncomfortable moments, because on the other side of them is a blessed feeling of accomplishment.

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A Recipe for a Tasty Thanksgiving

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By Leslie Pegram

Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family, friends and friends that are more like family.  It’s a time to cook like a Food Network star, your favorite celebrity, blogger or Instagram star (or to just let someone else do all the cooking for you).  It’s a time to get up early and run in a Turkey Trot before donning your sweatpants to eat your heart out on turkey, ham, turduken, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, rolls, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, or your favorite vegetarian or vegan dishes for lunch and then hop in the car to your next destination where you’ll dine on the same food a few hours later for dinner. it’s a time for unexpected trips to the ER for those brave enough to try deep frying a turkey. A time to watch football, the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade or prepare your Black Friday strategy. A time to volunteer giving to others in need or just need compassion and company.  Also, did I mention naps?  It’s also a time for naps, lots of food-coma inducing naps! Thanksgiving is also the unofficial start of potluck season!

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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.