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


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


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,, 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.

Pro Bono Spotlight: Kate McCullough


Pro Bono Project: NC LEAP

By Caroline Trautman
For attorneys working in business law who want to give back, it’s hard to think of a better opportunity than the NC Lawyers for Entrepreneurs Assistance Program (“NC LEAP”).

And when it comes to attorneys who have taken that opportunity, Kate McCullough immediately comes to mind.

Kate has been an active NC LEAP volunteer since she graduated from Elon University School of Law in 2017. NC LEAP, which is the only statewide program of its kind, provides legal services to low-wealth entrepreneurs. Through her work with NC LEAP, Kate has assisted business owners with a wide range of topics including contracts, trademark registration, company handbooks, operating agreements, and formation. She sat on a panel during the 7th Annual Business Summit – Business Q&A at Vance-Granville Community College.

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Checking In: September 23, 2019

Wilson law firms Thomas Law Attorneys and Farris & Farris, P.A., will consolidate effective Oct. 1, managing partners Allen Thomas and Bob Farris announced recently. The firm will be named Farris & Thomas and operate at the current location of Thomas Law. The consolidation reunites the managing partners, who began their legal careers in practice with Robert Farris, the father of Bob Farris and the uncle of Allen Thomas. (Photo: Allen Thomas, left, and Bob Farris, courtesy The Wilson Times.)


Constangy, Brooks, Smith and Prophete has added a new office in Raleigh to complement North Carolina offices in Asheville and Winston-Salem. In tandem with its opening, the Raleigh office has welcomed its first partner, Justin Coffey, who worked previously for Ogletree Deakins. Coffey has more than 14 years of experience in immigration law, including serving as Chair of the Board of Directors of the International and Immigration Law Section of the Atlanta Bar Association.




Zachary Underwood has been promoted to Litigation Partner at the Raleigh office of Cordell & Cordell. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Springfield and a Juris Doctorate from Wake Forest University.





Jeffrey Tyburski and his staff have joined the Raleigh office of Geosyntec Consultants after previously working for McAdams. “This was an amicable decision between McAdams and Geosyntec,” Tyburski wrote, “recognizing that McAdams Civil Engineering/Land Development environmental needs are better served from a separate closely aligned partner. This will create a win-win situation for both companies.”




Steven Bader has joined the Raleigh office of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog as an Of Counsel attorney. Bader’s practice focuses on appellate law, and his experience includes arguing cases before the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Minnesota Court of Appeals. He holds a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Saint Cloud State University, and a Juris Doctorate from Gonzaga University.




Grace Kays has joined the Wilmington office of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog as an associate attorney, focusing her practice on medical malpractice defense. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, cum laude, with a major in criminal justice and a minor in political science, and a Juris Doctorate from Elon University.




Lori Fuller has joined the Technology practice at Smith Anderson in Raleigh. She brings with her a wealth of experience from previous positions, including serving as General Counsel for the North Carolina Department of Information Technology and as the first and leading advisor from the Attorney General’s Office for the State Information Processing Services and Information Technology Services.




Colin J. Tarrant has joined Block, Crouch, Keeter, Behm & Sayed in Wilmington after working previously for Smith Moore Leatherwood and Fox Rothschild. Tarrant’s practice focuses on business and commercial litigation, real estate development, land use, and zoning. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from North Carolina State University and a Juris Doctorate from the New England School of Law.




Megan Cook has joined the Raleigh office of Teague Campbell. She focuses her practice on issues of liability, including motor vehicle negligence and wrongful death. Cook holds a Juris Doctorate from North Carolina Central University School of Law.





Carmelle Alipio joins the Raleigh office of Teague Campbell. Carmelle holds a Juris Doctorate from Emory University, where she was the first woman and the first woman of color to be elected Director in Chief of the Emory Law School Supreme Court Advocacy Program. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and economics from Fordham University.




Patrick Scott joins the Raleigh office of Teague Campbell after participating in the Teague Campbell Summer Associate Program. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a Juris Doctorate from Campbell University.




A Story Too Captivating To Go Untold

By Russell Rawlings
By the time you read this, Steve Epstein may be famous. His first book, “Murder on Birchleaf Drive: The True Story of the Michelle Young Murder Case,” is that good.

The true crime story chronicles the trials, appeals and conviction of the victim’s husband, Jason Young.

Here’s what fellow NCBA member David Rudolf, famous in his own right for his defense of novelist Michael Peterson and resulting Netflix series “The Staircase,” had to say about it: “A compelling and accurate description of a fascinating murder case, from the initial investigation through the twists and turns of two trials, and all of the strategic decisions in between. One of the best true crime books I have read. Very entertaining.”

The murder, which also claimed the couple’s unborn son, occurred in the couple’s Raleigh home on Nov. 3, 2006. On Nov. 30, 2018, following multiple trials and appeals, the N.C. Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Paul Ridgeway’s ruling that Jason Young was not entitled to a third trial.

Thus, as Epstein writes in the book’s final paragraph, “… barring a turn of events of a magnitude far greater than the hung jury or the first Court of Appeals’ decision, Jason Lynn Young will spend the rest of his life in prison.”

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Checking In: August 26, 2019


Adam deNobriga joins the Charlotte office of Bell, Davis & Pitt as a director. He has nine years of experience as a litigator, particularly focusing on construction defect, property damage, and professional malpractice. deNobriga has worked on cases in N.C. Superior Court, N.C. Business Court, and federal courts. He is licensed to practice law in Tennessee as well as North Carolina.




Jared Mobley has been appointed managing partner of the Charlotte office of K&L Gates. He focuses his practice on complex aspects of U.S. federal, state and local taxation, including creating and implementing tax-efficient structures for the firm’s clients. He holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of South Carolina and a Master of Laws in tax law from New York University.





Spencer Beard joins the Wilmington office of McAngus Goudelock & Courie. Beard is a litigation attorney of 15 years, with a particular focus on construction and trucking, and he is admitted to the bar in both Mississippi and North Carolina. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi.



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What’s It Take To Argue a SCOTUS Case? A Lot Of Midnight Oil


When the chance to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court comes up, sleep becomes a distant memory. We got a behind-the-case look from some NCBA members who were there this spring. Find this story and more in the August edition of North Carolina Lawyer magazine.

By Amber Nimocks

Drew Erteschik’s phone buzzed in his pocket like a bug zapper. He first thought the texts were from his wife, suggesting what he might pick up for dinner. But one glance at the text from his law partner, “We have it!! We have cert!!” — the first of approximately 250 messages blowing up his phone — and he knew this was bigger than what was for supper.

It was Jan. 11, and the U.S. Supreme Court had just granted certiorari in N.C. Department of Revenue v. The Kimberley Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust. N.C. Solicitor General Matt Sawchak, Sawchak’s colleagues Jim Doggett and Ryan Park, former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr, and Erteschik represented the Department of Revenue.

With the cert grant, the clock began ticking. The team had only three months to ready their A games for scrutiny by the U.S. Supreme Court. Sleep would be become a rare luxury for those focused on the case, as comprehensive research and analysis, brief writing, and argument preparation consumed all hours of the day.

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Enduring Tedium: The Future of Fights Over Electronically Stored Information

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By Sean F. Herrmann

“Seeking justice often involves enduring tedium.” It’s fitting that North Carolina’s first substantive legal decision on eDiscovery begins with this pithy observation. Employment litigators often lament the virtual hellscape of discovering electronically stored information (“ESI”). But the era when paper was king is long dead, and the fight is now firmly in the cyber world of custodians, native formats, and keyword searches.

For those in federal court, at least rules and precedent exist to help guide them through the dark ESI forest (especially those that find themselves before Chief Judge Frank Whitney in the Western District of North Carolina). North Carolina state court practitioners haven’t been so lucky. That is until this week. On Aug. 6, 2019, the North Carolina Court of Appeals issued its first substantive decision on ESI in Crosmun v. Trustees of Fayetteville Technical Cmty. Coll. (No. COA18-1054). Judge Lucy Inman, who authored the opinion, put it well: “This appeal presents this Court with our first opportunity to address the contours of eDiscovery within the context of North Carolina common and statutory law regarding the attorney-client privilege and work-product doctrine.” The Court ultimately reversed the trial court’s order granting Plaintiffs’ forensic expert direct access to Defendants’ ESI, but the way the Court got there and its recommendations on remand are far more important than the holding itself.

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