Members In Focus: World Traveler, Lawyer, Writer, Volunteer Kara Gansmann Can’t Be Stopped

Getting involved with the (North Carolina) Bar Association was one of the best things to do … I started out volunteering for 4ALL, one year at Williams Mullen and one year my firm hosted. … It has been so rewarding, and I run into colleagues who are also giving back. It is a really good feeling; people are really excited.

Kara Gansmann, NCBA Member


By Russell Rawlings

Kara Gansmann finished college in Wilmington and left her home state of North Carolina in 1998. She returned to practice elder law and estate planning in Wilmington in 2014. In between, she saw the world – as a flight attendant, student and young lawyer – living in Washington, D.C., Chicago, North Dakota and Texas.

“If I move again, it will be to a grave.”

Gansmann has a way with words, as her law partners at Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog well know. She has been a reliable ghost-writer and brief writer for them in the past – “I don’t need the glory of a byline” – and more recently has emerged as a popular contributor in her own right to the WilmingtonBiz Insights blog, where she writes bi-monthly columns on elder law issues.

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Oct. 23, 2018

Jake Parrott has joined Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP as counsel in the firm’s Raleigh office. He joins Parker Poe’s Development Services Industry Team. Parrott focuses his practice on commercial real estate transactions that include the new development, acquisition, and sale of all commercial property types, as well as leasing, real estate financing, and lending. Parrott is a leader within the North Carolina Bar Association’s Real Property Section, serving on its council. He joined Parker Poe from Ward and Smith.


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Watch NCBA/UNC-TV Constitutional Amendment Programs On UNC-TV Or At

Six proposed constitutional amendments are appearing on the North Carolina general election ballot this year. As a service to our members and the citizens of our state, the North Carolina Bar Association has partnered with UNC-TV to produce educational programming regarding the proposed constitutional amendments.

The “Amendments Explained” programs premiered on Friday night, October 19, at 8 p.m. on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Channel and will air multiple times on UNC-TV’s primary channel and the North Carolina Channel. Click here or see below for a full schedule of air times for all the programs. Online viewing of the interviews is available on the NCBA website at

Two 30-minute programs have been produced, one focuses on the proposed judicial vacancy appointment amendment, and the other focuses on the proposed State Board of Ethics and Elections amendment. The programs include a segment on the history of the N.C. Constitution and discussion segments featuring proponents and opponents of both amendments.

Listed alphabetically, the proponents and opponents featured in the programs are: N.C. Senator Dan Bishop, former N.C. Governor Mike Easley, former N.C. Governor Jim Martin, and N.C. Speaker Pro Tempore Sarah Stevens. The segments focusing on the history and evolution of the N.C. Constitution feature Martin Brinkley, Dean of the UNC School of Law and a Past President of the NCBA. All of the interviews are conducted by Kelly McCullen, director of the North Carolina Channel and Public Affairs for Public Media NC at UNC-TV.

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Catherine Reach, Visionary Legal Tech Leader, To Join NCBA Staff As CPM Director

By Erik Mazzone
NCBA Membership Experience, Senior Director

I am super excited to share with you that we have hired a new Director of the Center for Practice Management. Catherine Sanders Reach, Director of Law Practice Management and Technology for the Chicago Bar Association and former Director of the Legal Technology Resource Center for the American Bar Association, will serve as our new CPM Director beginning on Oct. 31.

I couldn’t be more pleased and proud to have Catherine join the NCBA. She is one of the most widely respected law practice management advisors in the country. She was an inductee into the inaugural class of the Fastcase 50 – an award which recognizes the year’s “smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries, and leaders in the law.”

Catherine Sanders Reach

Catherine is also a fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, which honors extraordinary achievement in law practice management and in stimulating innovation in the delivery of legal services. She received her Bachelor of Arts (English) and Masters of Library and Information Studies from the University of Alabama.

Catherine has been an highly sought after speaker and volunteer with the ABA, having served as a member of the Law Practice Futures Initiative, a member of the Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, and is currently serving as a Vice Chair of TECHSHOW, one of the largest legal technology conferences in the world.

Qualifications and accolades aside, Catherine has been a gracious colleague, insightful mentor (including to me, which is vexing because she is younger than I am), and a generous leader in the law practice management community. She’s been a good friend to the NCBA and has spoken at our programs many times over the past years. Catherine is a great addition for our team, and I know once you get to know and work with her, you will be excited about her joining us as I am.

A Higher Calling: Hurricane Florence Relief From Above

Have a Hurricane Florence story to share on NCBarBlog or in NC Lawyer magazine? Email Amber Nimocks.

By Bettie Kelley Sousa

The Wednesday after Hurricane Florence left the state, Smith Debnam partners gathered for their monthly lunch meeting, normally chaired by the law firm’s managing partner, Jerry Myers. Many learned then that Myers’  absence resulted from his accepting a higher calling — delivering supplies in his small airplane to Eastern North Carolina charities.

In this day of drones and helicopters, small planes landing on short runways provided a much needed service to the hurricane survivors. With hundreds of roads, including I-40 and I-95, flooded and closed to delivery trucks, the federal, state and local governments set up shelters, conducted rescues, and assessed damage on a larger scale. But, for the day-to-day lives of most of the population, thankfulness for survival melted into desperation to return to normalcy. Cash does no good when there are no stores open, or no stock on the shelves.

Want to help Hurricane Florence survivors? The North Carolina Disaster Legal Services pro bono program needs volunteers. Find details at

Smith Debnam Managing Partner Jerry Myers, an NCBA member,  stuffed his personal airplane with supplies for Hurricane Florence survivors and flew them into isolated areas after the storm.

Yet there were able-bodied locals who could help deliver bottled water and supplies to people in need.  Help with the “who-needs-what.” Recognizing the missing link, Operation Airdrop flew into action after Florence. Connecting the donors, and the donated goods, to charities with volunteers to deliver the donations had been done before in Houston, after the similar disaster from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. A Texas non-profit, volunteer led group, Operation Airdrop is a loose organization of pilots and small airplanes which sought and coordinated volunteers through the internet. Call it a “pop up,” with no true existence until the need arises, Operation Airdrop denotes itself as a “week one disaster response organization.” And, after Florence, the need arose in North Carolina.

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NCBA LRS Benefit So Sweet, a Member Just Had To Bring Us Chocolates

The Lawyer Referral Service is one of many benefits available to NCBA members.
Renew your membership before Oct. 31 to stay with the NCBA.

By M’Lea Peak
NCBA Lawyer Referral Service Program Coordinator

Not every attorney on his way to pay a $20,000 bill would have a spring in his step and smile on his face. But when Steve Paul stopped by the North Carolina Bar Center on a sunny afternoon last fall, not only was he smiling, he was also carrying an armload of Godiva chocolates for the NCBA Lawyer Referral Service staff.

Paul was dropping off a remittance fee check representing 10 percent of his share of a medical negligence case that originated with a referral from LRS. Standard operating procedure does not require attorneys to deliver their remittance fee checks in person – or for them to bring chocolates – but the LRS staff is happy to accommodate both practices.

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Providing Legal Aid To Hurricane Florence Victims Will Help Them — and You

By Amber Nimocks

The feelings of panic and helplessness that overcame us as we watched Hurricane Florence ravage our state have dissipated only slightly as the skies have cleared. The persistent question remains: “How can I help?”

The North Carolina Bar Association and Foundation have several answers to that question. Among them is NC Disaster Legal Services (NC DLS), a collaborative effort to provide immediate pro bono legal assistance to survivors of Hurricane Florence, supported by the North Carolina Bar Association, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association and Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC).

Volunteers who worked with NC DLS following Hurricane Matthew in 2016 keenly understand the powerful ways this program can support victims who are facing legal questions and conundrums they have never been faced with before. After Matthew, nearly 200 North Carolina lawyers volunteered to assist more than 300 storm survivors. The comments of a few of them below attest to the power of this volunteer work.

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Sept. 4, 2018

Ann Marie Holder has joined Colombo, Kitchin, Dunn, Ball & Porter, LLP in Greenville, N.C., as an associate attorney. Holder has worked in big and small firm practices, public counsel service, and the Governor’s Legal Counsel Office. Holder will practice in the areas of administrative law, estate and trust planning and administration, contract disputes and commercial litigation. She is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center.



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Aug. 18, 2018

James King has joined Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP as an associate based in its Raleigh office. King will join the firm’s Medical Malpractice Practice Group. King previously worked in the general litigation practice of a law firm in Greensboro. Prior to joining CSH Law, he worked on a variety of matters including the defense of medical malpractice claims and professional licensing board investigations.  King is a North Carolina native and a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law, with honors.



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Avoid a Benchslap: Four Writing Tips You Ignore At Your Peril

By Abigail Perdue

Above the Law’s founder, David Lat, has been credited with coining the term “benchslap” in 2004.[1] It generally refers to a particularly scathing insult from a judge to an attorney, litigant, or on occasion, another judge.

Benchslaps occur in many forms and for many reasons. For example, in Mannheim Video v. County of Cook, a Seventh Circuit panel “benchslapped” counsel by pointing out that the “ostrich-like tactic of pretending that potentially dispositive authority against a litigant’s contention does not exist is as unprofessional as it is pointless.”[2] Likewise, in denying a motion for disqualification, a U.S. District Court Judge concluded that the Defendants “aspire[d] to be magicians. . . . [L]ike David Copperfield’s tricks, their motion [was] nothing but smoke and mirrors.”[3] He expressed doubt that counsel had “adequately research[ed] the case law”[4] and warned them to “think twice before filing such a baseless motion” or “risk being sanctioned.”[5]

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