Want To See the Future Of Law Practice? Attend a Tech Conference

92decfde1d6e83f6737cd5c251d83103By Pegeen Turner

I recently returned from the Clio Conference in Chicago. Clio is cloud-based practice management software for law firms. But, don’t stop reading this post just because your firm does not use Clio or the cloud. This post is pertinent to you as long as you continue to practice law in 2016.

The Clio Conference offers more than just information on a product. It is a conference on the future of law. Unlike any other legal technology conferences that I have attended, the Clio Conference exposes attendees to technology used in other law firms today (read – your competitors). From AI (artificial intelligence) to online intake processes, and practice specific technology, firms are moving their data online. Today. Clio brings together a wealth of resources under one roof to show you the direction of where your firm should be moving.

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The Birds and the Bees and the TLC: What I Wish I’d Known When I Was a YLD Member

scruggsmarkBy Mark Scruggs

Bees are fascinating little critters. Their lifespan is only six weeks. In the spring, they gather pollen to store in their hives. As spring blooms into the summer, bees begin gathering nectar to make honey. As the weather becomes cooler in the fall, they gather sap to caulk the cracks in their hives to prepare for winter. The bees of summer were different from the springtime bees who gathered pollen, and the autumn bees know nothing of summertime and have never experienced a winter. How do they know what to do?

We humans are the same way. While we have some insight into our lives looking backward, we have no real understanding of what lies ahead. We can remember childhood when we knew nothing about the birds and the bees. Many of us were grossed out when we first heard about the mechanics of sex from older kids. Surely our parents did not do that. Surely they are not doing it now! We also remember the social awkwardness of adolescence and the angst of our teenage years. Today, as young lawyers, we remember those developmental stages well. Today, struggling with the time and attention demands of balancing our personal and professional lives, starting families and striving to get ahead in our careers, retirement is the last thing on our minds. While we have contemporaries in the financial world urging us to buy insurance products and invest for the future, the eventualities seem remote.

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Take a Deep Breath: Five Tips For Dealing With Highly Emotional Clients

By Kelly E. Thompson

Effectively dealing with highly emotional clients can be one of the most difficult aspects of practicing family law. Emotional clients may find it difficult to make rational decisions about their case, causing them to become entrenched in untenable positions. Emotional clients may also be challenging to communicate with effectively, sometimes hearing what they want to hear as opposed to what you are truly saying. Even worse, highly emotional clients may lash out against us or our staff when their anger actually comes from the circumstances they find themselves in, not our representation of them in those circumstances. Because representing highly emotional clients is a nearly unavoidable hazard in our profession, we must all find a way to reach past those emotions to help our clients make sound decisions about their case and future. When dealing with highly emotional clients, keep the following in mind:

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NCBA Out & About: A Hike Along England’s South Downs Way

jon-sdw-1By Jonathan Maxwell

There are few better opportunities for relaxation and rejuvenation than a long walk.  English national trails take it to a new level.

In the bracing air along the Seven Sisters, the prominent chalk cliffs overseeing the English Channel, I encounter a fellow hiker who recommends a 13th-century inn in Alfriston as a perfect first night‘s stay. Laterin the gloaming along the Cuckmere River, a gentleman farmer pauses while working in his field to point out a distant steeple, advising that if I stick to the river path I will be in Alfriston ere long.

Of the English walks officially designated as “national trails,” one of the most historic and varied is but a 50-mile train ride south of London. Beginning in Eastbourne on the English Channel, the South Downs Way wends westward one hundred miles through a national park – along coastal cliffs, inland atop an escarpment, and through the woods, to Winchester. (See www.nationaltrail.co.uk/southdowns.) I cannot resist taking six days to walk it solo.

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And Now For Something Completely Different … About CLE Titles

By Catherine Peglow

Have you ever wondered how our CLE programs get their names?

“The Alimony Tour – Not Starring John Cleese” was the name of the 2015 Family Law Section Annual Meeting CLE in Asheville. Now, I’m a Monty Python fan, but a clever name like that can present some problems when you consider the life cycle of a typical North Carolina Bar Association Foundation CLE program. After the live program, we generally do video replays across the state, and those video replays count as live CLE credit. After the replays finish, the program is edited into sessions and uploaded to our On Demand catalog. When you view those sessions online from the convenience of your home or office, they count as online CLE credit.

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Attorneys, Paralegals Beware: Wire Instruction Fraud Plagues N.C. Lawyers

 Stell,CamilleBy Camille Stell

Over the last few weeks, Lawyers Mutual has received multiple reports of North Carolina attorneys who were targeted by scammers attempting to divert seller closing proceeds following real estate transactions. Unfortunately, several of these attacks were successful and hundreds of thousands of dollars were stolen and are very unlikely to be recovered.

I’ve asked our claims attorney, Troy Crawford, to talk with me about what went wrong and how to prevent it.

Troy: While the details of the recent scams are emerging, it appears hackers first became aware of the closing by compromising email accounts of differing parties.  Sometimes the attorney account was compromised, sometimes the seller’s account was compromised but the most common scenario was the realtor’s account was being monitored by international criminal organizations.

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Young Lawyers Are Doing Good, But Not Always Doing Well

By Matt Cordell

The Young Lawyers Division recently held its 62nd Annual Meeting in connection with the NCBA Annual Meeting in Charlotte. As the ceremonial gavel was passed across the room from our former YLD chairs, including past NCBA presidents, our current president, and our president-elect, I thought about how the YLD has truly been a training ground for leaders of our profession and our state.

I then looked around the room at the remarkable young lawyers present. What an honor it is to serve alongside such an incredible group of people. The young lawyers who make up the YLD’s leadership team truly represent the best of our profession. They are smart, hardworking, selfless people who give their precious time and abundant talents, and together they are leading our more than 6,400 YLD members to achieve some remarkable things.

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Planning To Pursue An Appeal From A Business Court Decision? It’s A Jungle Out There!

Editor’s note: This is an updated version of the article that first appeared in the June 2016 edition of “The Litigator,” the NCBA Litigation Section newsletter. The article was updated Aug. 3, 2016.

By Beth Scherer and Matt Leerberg


When first established in 1995, the Business Court was touted as a way to make North Carolina’s “court system as responsive and predictable as the Delaware Chancery Court in dealing with complex corporate issues.”  The Business Court has largely delivered on its promise of ease of use and predictability based, in part, on assignment of cases to a single (and highly qualified) Business Court judge and an e-filing system that practitioners could utilize from any jungle paradise (with wi-fi access).  Practitioners must take heed, however.  At the end of each Business Court case lurks a menacing tiger: North Carolina appellate practice and procedure!

Over the past two years, at least seven different appellate traps have emerged for North Carolina Business Court cases, many of which have resulted in dismissal of appeals.  Those traps have been discussed extensively on our North Carolina Appellate Practice Blog (www.ncapb.com).  This article summarizes several potential snares, with links to the detailed blog posts for those who seek more information about taming the beast.

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Waiting Game: How Long Does It Take the N.C. Court Of Appeals To Issue Opinions?

Rakes,KenzieBy Kenzie M. Rakes

I am often called upon to answer questions related to pending appeals because I recently completed a clerkship at the Court of Appeals of North Carolina. When asked how long it will take the Court of Appeals to issue an opinion, I always say it is impossible to know with certainty, but the court has an internal policy of trying to issue opinions within 90 days of the date the appeal is scheduled for argument. After being involved in an appeal as an advocate, I decided to determine how long it takes the court to issue opinions.

First, I calculated the number of days it took the Court of Appeals to issue opinions in 2015 by counting the days from the date the appeal was scheduled for argument (regardless of whether oral argument was granted) until the date the opinion was issued. Not all appeals have an argument date. For example, some opinions are issued after the Supreme Court of North Carolina remands the case or after the Court of Appeals grants a party’s petition for rehearing. If the appeal was not argued, I treated the date that the appeal was remanded or the date the petition for rehearing was granted as the argument date.

Based on this methodology, I determined that the court issued opinions an average of 77 days after argument in 2015. The median was 62 days.

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Prepping For Mediation: Practice Tips for Young Litigators

TierneyBy O. Craig Tierney Jr.

Editor’s note: This article appeared originally in The Advocate, the newsletter of the NCBA’s Young Lawyers Division.

When The Advocate asked me to write an article about helpful tips for having an effective mediation, I took some time to reflect on how my personal preparation and tactics for mediation have changed over the last 20-some years. Civil litigation/mediation slowly but surely morphed from a passive “Well, let’s show up and see if we can settle at mediation” attitude, to an active “What do we need to do prior to mediation to secure a favorable settlement?”

Fundamentally, your client cares little about litigation drama. Your client cares about getting a good result that is cost effective and timely. Mediation can deliver all of that in spades. But, like almost anything in life, getting there takes some work and prior planning. Several hours of careful thought, strategy and planning about 60 days prior to a mediation will greatly increase the chances of having a successful mediation.

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