New Office! Wedding Venue! Say What?

By Bettie Kelley Sousa

Recently, Smith Debnam introduced attorney Liz Blackwell, who joined Smith Debnam alumnus and “rejoinder,” Ron Jones, in the newly staked out Charleston, SC, office. Church Street in Charleston may be known for the many beautiful old churches. But move over old money; there’s a new wedding venue in the historic district!

Zoom on. You see, the first closing held in the new Smith Debnam office wasn’t a land purchase or a commercial loan. It was Liz’s contract of marriage! Conducted by Charleston County Probate Judge, Irv Condon, via a Zoom conference, Liz and hubby Graeme Ross, a Canadian physician currently completing a critical care fellowship in Kingston, Ontario, decided to go ahead and tie the knot. But there wasn’t a knot to be seen in a black tie or bow tie. Graeme wore scrubs as did three of his medical buddies, who all connected by videoconference. Liz was radiant in the Smith Debnam conference room, which, by the way, needs some wall hangings. No hand-holding, no eye gazing, no kissing of the bride. But a lovely, sweet, albeit quick ceremony warmed the hearts of those few “in attendance” and those with whom the video has been shared. Afterwards, the Smith Debnam Charleston office folks enjoyed a champagne toast, and the groom was back to the important work of providing health care.

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Prioritize Preparedness: Hurricane Season Preparation During a Pandemic

By Elizabeth B. Savage

This week is Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 3-9), and although COVID-19 is dominating our news channels and conversations, we should not let it overshadow the upcoming hurricane season, which begins June 1, 2020. COVID-19 has certainly taken a toll on the State of North Carolina, with the most recent NCDHHS laboratory confirmed case count at 12,256. On May 5, Gov. Cooper announced that North Carolina will start Phase I of a reopen plan on Friday, May 8. This announcement comes almost two weeks after the governor first announced the three-phase plan. The United States has not faced an infectious disease disaster like COVID-19 since the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic; while our nation and state continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic response, North Carolina must also prepare for hurricane season.

Hurricanes and severe tropical storms have historically wreaked havoc along the North Carolina coast. These natural disasters are sudden, catastrophic, and have a disparate impact on vulnerable populations, and this season’s hurricane activity is forecasted to be above normal. The Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project recently published a forecast of the 2020 Atlantic seasonal hurricane activity that predicted sixteen named storms, eight hurricanes, and four major hurricanes.

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Why Do I Care More Than They Do? A Young Lawyer’s First Attempt at Coaching High School Mock Trial

By Amanda Perry

As lawyers, we preach philanthropy and public service on a regular basis, but we often are so overburdened with deadlines, paperwork, and research that philanthropy can often turn into a charitable donation. While in law school at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa., I was an avid and cutthroat competitor in our trial advocacy competition team, so when I was stationed at Fort Bragg to start my career as a Judge Advocate with XVIII Airborne Corps, I wanted to find a way to combine that advocacy competitiveness and my philanthropic core principle. Enter: becoming an attorney advisor for a high school mock trial team through the North Carolina Mock Trial Program.

When I first met with the team in September, I had to remind myself of one major underlying principle: these are high school kids, not law students. As a law student competitor, we practice relentlessly and often; we find a way to balance the rigors and demands of law school with the demands of honing our advocacy skills. It’s expected that you will be emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and physically exhausted, but at the same time, every person in that room is there to win. None of those things are expected of a high school team nor, more importantly, should they be.

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