Members In Focus – Melissa Duncan

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Members in Focus highlights NCBA members’ special talents and hobbies. Melissa Duncan is Director of Career & Student Development at Elon University School of Law.

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Ten Things You Young’uns Should Know Before Stepping Into a Civil Courtroom

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As I rock on my porch muttering while watching you kids in my front yard, I remember my dewy days as a green lawyer trying my first few auto accident trials. Having been fortunate to start as an associate in the warm embrace of Bailey & Dixon in the ’90s, I was given my own small auto accident cases to prepare and try along with tons of go-bys, outlines, checklists, briefs, forms, and trial notebooks that the firm had developed through decades of trial practice. The partners and senior associates freely shared their time and wisdom and assured me that if I put in the hours and followed their advice I would be as well-prepared as possible for my first trials.

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Backers See New Retention Election As A Step Toward Judicial Selection Reform

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By Amber Nimocks 

North Carolinians voting for a Supreme Court justice this November will see just one name on the ballot but they will still have a choice to make: Keep Associate Justice Robert H. Edmunds Jr., the sitting justice whose name will appear, or open the seat up for a replacement to be appointed by the governor.

Edmunds will be the first North Carolina Supreme Court justice to sit for a retention election under a new law passed last year. Proponents of the law hope it will deflate campaign spending levels in Supreme Court races, which have ballooned in recent years, and push the state toward a new system of judicial selection.

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CLE Deadline Season: Legal Professionals, Start Your Engines

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Here we are two weeks before the North Carolina State Bar Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) grace period ends on Feb. 29, 2016. I have started to call it the “silly season.” NASCAR fans are familiar with that term. It’s when drivers, crew chiefs and car manufacturers change at the end of the season in a flurry of somewhat unsettling activity.  Similarly, the phone is ringing off the hook here in the CLE Department, and there is a definite air of desperation in the voices of most of the people calling in, some of whom need to get in all 12 hours of MCLE before the end of February.

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NC State Bar-LegalZoom Settlement Sets Stage For Legislative Action

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Editor’s note: This story appears in the February 2016 edition of North Carolina Lawyer.

By Russell Rawlings

The North Carolina State Bar and LegalZoom.com Inc. took a giant step toward resolving their longstanding differences when the parties signed a consent judgment on Oct. 22, 2015. The highly publicized agreement gave the State Bar consumer protections that it was seeking while clarifying LegalZoom’s right to provide documents to North Carolina citizens via the Internet.

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10 Ways To Prep For a Successful Mediation

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From an attorney’s perspective: 

As we all know (or should know) the purpose of mediation is to maximize the chances that our client’s case will settle before they are forced into a potentially unnecessary trial. In order to facilitate this process it is imperative that we, as attorneys, arrive prepared to resolve our client’s issues.

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Encryption Is Not a Four-Letter Word

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What is encryption?

Encryption is a process to store your data so that only you can access it. There is an encryption “key” (essentially a password) that you keep to encrypt and decrypt the data. When the data is encrypted, it is converted to ones and zeros so that it can be stored securely, and if the encrypted data falls into the wrong hands (the bad guys or the NSA) it can NOT be read. You hold the only encryption key, and your data can only be decrypted (unlocked) and read by you.

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Readers Like Suspense—Just Not in the Introduction To Your Brief

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I welcome evidence to the contrary, but I don’t think that most courts appreciate surprises in briefs. Courts have limited time; they want to use that time to make the right decisions. The sooner you can tell a court why you should win, the better.

Put another way, the introduction to your brief matters a great deal.

Why, then, do so many introductions to briefs create surprises—or otherwise frustrate a reader—rather than provide a roadmap?

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Balance the key to success for NCBA member Jim Siemens

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Members in Focus highlights NCBA members’ special talents and hobbies. Jim Siemens is currently a Family Law Specialist with Siemens Law Group in Asheville.

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It’s Up To Us To Bring the Law To the People

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Editor’s note: As we look forward to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and other opportunities to serve, an NCBA member reflects on why service matters.

An undergraduate degree. Three years of law school. The bar exam. Debt, stress, hard work, and strains on our personal lives. We’ve sacrificed a lot and dedicated ourselves to earn the privilege of practicing law. Our pens are more than ink and plastic, our signatures more than markings. We have the trust of society to rewrite the lives of those around us. Our entire profession, in fact, is dependent on society’s trust based on our education, licensing, and code of professional conduct. Our pens, set to paper to draft a motion or sign a pleading, transform into tools of the law, and it’s a transformation that is exclusive to us.

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