In the Aftermath Of a Cyber Attack, What Do You Tell the State Bar?

By Joyce Brafford

Your law firm’s security has been breached, and you see that a scammer is trying to steal client funds. It may be wire fraud, a phishing attack or something totally different. But you know that the firm’s security is being tested against a bad actor. You must take action. What should you do, and what are your ethical obligations?

I reached out to Deanna Brocker of the Brocker Law Firm in Raleigh, and she shared some practical advice for anyone who finds themselves in this situation. The Brocker Law Firm concentrates in professional and occupational licensing, ethics and disciplinary matters. The firm also advises and represents professional clients in various related areas, including prospective ethics counseling, private ethics opinions, expert witness testimony, firm disputes, North Carolina State Bar grievance defense and attorney discipline defense.

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Lessons Learned From the Former ‘Fat Boy’: Tackling Childhood and Adolescent Obesity

By Russell Rawlings

Rumor has it the incidence of childhood and adolescent obesity has reached epidemic proportions in this country. That would stand to reason, considering the fact that obesity has also become rampant within the adult population.

In other words, the kids ain’t driving themselves to the grocery store.

I am neither a physician nor a psychologist, so nothing I would ever say about weight and wellness should ever be mistaken for professional advice, especially when it comes to childhood and adolescent obesity.

But I have lived through both, and although it has been nearly 40 years since I experienced my transformative weight loss, I will never forget what it was like to be young and overweight. I will never forget what it was like to be the “fat boy.”

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What ‘My Cousin Vinny’ Got Wrong: Public Defenders Fulfill Gideon’s Promise Day In, Day Out

By Kearns Davis

Fred Lind, Chief Public Defender for Guilford County, recently shared a letter from a juror:

Last week I had the privilege of serving on a jury for a case defended by Mr. A. Brennan Aberle. I was so impressed by his performance on this case I felt I had to put something on the record. At the start Mr. Aberle promised a defense based on facts and reason, and he delivered on that promise. …

I am often worried that justice is only for those who can afford it, but Mr. Aberle’s effective defense of his client reassures me that the freedom of ALL residents of Guilford County is well-protected by your office. I don’t believe a better defense could have been purchased at any price.

“My Cousin Vinny” (1992) is a legal film classic. But its caricature of a stammering, timid, poorly prepared public defender reinforced a stereotype that is widely shared but wildly wrong. As those who appear regularly in criminal court know, public defenders are experts. It is the public defender who spends every day in the same courthouse, working with judges and prosecutors and handling the cases that are staples for indigent clients. One United States district judge, who observes skilled, experienced counsel every day, describes the Federal Public Defender’s office in his district as, “lawyer for lawyer, the best trial law firm in the State of North Carolina.”

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One Car Crash, Two Miracles and the Many Wonders of BarCARES

By Jeff Bradford

I’m presently in my fifth year on the board of directors for BarCARES, a wonderful non-profit that provides a wide array of confidential counseling services to lawyers and their families.

My BarCARES story began on July 15, 2009. I was driving home from a nurse expert deposition in Greensboro when I met Gerline. I met her at about 5 p.m. in the left-hand lane of Highpoint Road, between a Toys R Us and a Bojangles’. I was traveling about 45 mph when she turned out of the opposite left-hand lane, through the turn lane, and directly in front of me. I had no time to react. I just hit the brakes, decelerated maybe 5 or 10 mph, and then slammed into her. My airbag deployed as I caromed across several lanes of traffic to my right, pushing her along with me. It was extremely frightening. We ended up directly in front of Bojangles’.

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Defend Your Firm Against WannaCry and Other Cyber Attacks

 By Joyce Brafford

A malicious program called WannaCry has affected more than 200,000 people, businesses and institutions in 150 countries in recent days. Through a bit of luck, an antivirus professional found a kill switch for the primary program. But other variants are still working. Global attacks may have slowed, but they haven’t stopped. Your law firm needs to update its software and get prepared for the inevitable onslaught of similar programs in the future.

Here’s what we know about WannaCry, and what you need to know to stay safe.

Name and Aliases: WannaCry, WannaDecryptor, WCry and WannaCrypt

Operating Systems at Risk: Windows, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003 and Windows 8. The latest version of Windows does not have the exploited vulnerability. If you are running any of the unsupported systems, or Windows 8, download the security patch immediately. You can find guidance from Microsoft here.

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Ode To Working Moms, From a Guy Who Gets It

By Russell Rawlings

The original version of this column appeared in the newsletter of the Communications Section of the National Association of Bar Executives (NABE) as a tribute to the young professional women serving on the section’s executive council. The sentiments contained therein, however, also apply to the thousands of working mothers who count themselves among the membership and staff of the North Carolina Bar Association.

My first big boss was a woman. Her name was Elizabeth Swindell, and she owned The Wilson Daily Times. That is where I began my professional career as a sportswriter in 1974 – before many of the women I’m writing about in this column were born.

Miss Swindell, as we knew her, would never weigh more than 100 pounds, yet she remains to this day the toughest woman I ever met. In addition to her duties at the newspaper, she was also a mother, grandmother and, by the time I started working for her, a great-grandmother.

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5 Reasons You Should Invest in Technology Training for Your Office

By Joyce Brafford

What’s your average billable rate? $250? $450? What if you could generate an additional two hours every week? What about five hours? Hours reclaimed with the assistance of software add up. We’re talking about a student loan payment, a vacation for your family, or even the ability to hire another staff member.

That money – those opportunities – are on the line if you forgo basic training on your software. I’m not asking you to be a computer engineer. I’m suggesting that you are missing important resources within the programs you use every day.

For instance, how quickly can you:

  • Remove all the unusual formatting from a document?
  • Convert a document to a PDF, then convert it back to Word?
  • Send a form letter to a client using a template and merge fields?

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Weight, Weight, I’ll Tell You: How I Lost 140 Pounds and Kept It Off

By Russell Rawlings

My recent contribution to Long Leaf Law about losing weight and keeping it off left one reader hungry for more:

“I just thought it could be very valuable to dig into the specifics of how you lost weight and kept it off over the long term. I presume that you have come to enjoy and value your lifestyle, and some concrete examples of what you did and the mindset that you brought to it might inspire others.”

Such kind and insightful words merit a thoughtful response. Over the years, others who have heard my story about losing 140 pounds during my senior year of college have also asked how I lost the weight and how I’ve managed to keep it off.

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Pro Bono Works: Disaster Legal Services Restored Victims’ ‘Faith In Humanity’

By Russell Rawlings

Early last October, Hurricane Matthew swept across eastern North Carolina, leaving death and destruction in its path. In this state alone 26 people lost their lives in storm-related deaths. Damage estimates topped $1.6 billion.

Forty-five North Carolina counties qualified for federal assistance, including Robeson County, where the Lumber River crested at 24 feet, eclipsing the previous record by 3.5 feet.

The North Carolina Bar Association, led by its Young Lawyers Division, worked with Legal Aid of North Carolina, the American Bar Association and FEMA to provide free legal assistance to hurricane victims through the Disaster Legal Services hotline.

This is one victim’s story, as conveyed through a family member. For purposes of privacy, neither the victim nor the attorney is identified by name.

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Please Describe Your Level Of Satisfaction

How much fun do you have?

How much time do you spend doing what you want to do?

How is your life measuring up against your expectations?

We’d like to know how you’re doing, so please take a few minutes to complete the online State of the Profession Survey from the N.C. Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism. The survey password was mailed to all licensed North Carolina attorneys on April 5. Email if you need help.

Survey results will help guide the commission and the N.C. Bar Association’s Lawyer Effectiveness & Quality of Life Committee in better understanding and addressing the challenges facing our profession today.

For those who have completed the survey, thank you very much for your participation.