SEL Chair’s Comments

By Brandon Huffman

I am working in my attic again. My firm has grown, but this is where it began. It is a fortress of solitude as dogs bark and kids rage in the floors beneath it. I am fielding calls from clients and answering emails like normal, but the tone has shifted. There are more calls about deals being called off and more emails about getting out of obligations or getting relief from the government. There are also more human conversations happening by Zoom, Skype, Hangouts, and Houseparty. I’m hearing more questions about individual well-being and mental health than ever before.

As lawyers, we take on a special burden. We help others navigate crises while we also navigate them ourselves. In this, the NCBA is a resource.

Last week, I was on a Zoom conference with NCBA President (LeAnn Nease Brown), NCBA Executive Director (Jason Hensley), and other bar leaders and section chairs. I wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to you, our Section members, to encourage you to visit the NCBA website. There, you will find a page specifically dedicated to COVID-19 resources or updates with a lot of useful information.

If your practice is slowing down, or your responsibilities in your company are being lessened as the economic realities of this pandemic set in, you may find yourself with a bit of time on your hands. You can’t go to sporting events, movies, shows or social gatherings, but there are opportunities to be involved with your community and the Bar. The Bar Foundation is recruiting attorneys to take questions through North Carolina Free Legal Answers.  NCBA is also presenting all CLE for the next few months remotely. You can, if you’d like to present on a topic of interest to the Section, reach out to our CLE chair or me (Brandon Huffman), and we can help coordinate with the CLE department.  A side note: The state bar has now lifted the in-person CLE requirement for this year, so you can get all your credits online.

When I set out at the beginning of the Bar Year to have one networking event each month, I never imagined we’d be prohibited from doing so. But, unfortunately, this is the reality we are in. I have some ideas to discuss with the council at our upcoming meeting (which would have been at TRAC under normal circumstances), but I am—of course—disappointed. My plans have been shattered.

To look at the big picture, I think we can use this as an opportunity to grow closer while forced apart. I hope to deliver on that in the coming months. It’s important to remember that our clients and communities view lawyers as leaders, and this is a time for us to live up to that.

I know that the pressure is getting to us. If you find yourself in need of help, know that you can always reach out to me. Your friends and colleagues in the Section will be equally accommodating. And, if you need a confidential resource, remember BarCARES is available to assist.

We will get through this.  Stay tuned for more.  And thank you for a great, if unconventional, Bar Year so far.