A Message from the Chair

By Eleasa Harris Allen

Over the last several weeks, we have experienced things in our professional and personal lives that none of us would have contemplated just a couple of months ago. Most court cases have been continued until June 1. We are learning to work remotely. We are conducting meetings and mediations via Zoom and Webex . . . all while many of us are attempting (and I personally stress the word “attempting”) to homeschool our children and maintain some degree of sanity along the way.

These certainly are unprecedented times, the likes of which we may never experience again. When we look back on this, we will hopefully be able to identify lessons learned along the way. Adaptability and a willingness to change will be among those lessons, as will the ability to embrace new technology and to be more flexible in general. Perhaps the most important lessons we can learn center on developing more patience and showing grace to ourselves and others. I suspect many of us will be applying some of these lessons to our individual practices, even after things have returned to “normal.”

While we are in the midst of this surreal experience, I want to highlight the resources available to you through your NCBA membership. The NCBA website offers a host of COVID-19 resources, including updates from the N.C. Courts, free CLE programming and webinars, and resources from the Center for Practice Management. Additionally, as a Section, we are using the listserv and blog to disseminate updates from the Industrial Commission as they are published to its website. Should you have procedural or logistical questions that have not yet been addressed, please do not hesitate to contact me ([email protected]), and I will seek input from the Commission as appropriate.

It is abundantly clear that now, more than ever, we need to take care of ourselves physically and mentally, and the NCBA is doing its part to support this through Wellness Wednesdays, weekly Zoom sessions directed at helping attorneys maintain mental health in the midst of crisis.

Many are finding that they have more time than usual due to court continuances, deadline extensions, etc. Given the State’s stay-at-home order, the NCBA is not able to hold live/in-person CLE opportunities, but there is a lot of on-demand programming, including the NCBA’s Expert Series CLEs, that are available. As you may recall, effective January 1, 2020, attorneys are allowed to take all of their required annual CLE hours online. So knock out those hours now if you are able.

Finally, in times like this, we often look for ways to give back to our communities and help those in need. You do not have to look far to identify some really worthy options. One to consider is participation in the North Carolina Free Legal Answers program. Mallory Lidaka and Samantha Aktug of the Section’s Pro Bono Committee recently explained that this program allows attorneys to “provide answers to civil legal questions from financially eligible citizens through a website—not by phone. Attorneys may choose from 25 available legal categories and anonymously respond to a question that fits their legal interests.” For additional information about this program, including how to sign up, re-read their blog post.

The last several weeks have been unusual to say the least. We are being forced to adjust and adapt on the fly. Some days, we handle these new challenges better than others. I encourage you to continue to show patience and grace to your clients, colleagues, opposing counsel, family and, most importantly, yourself.

Stay well,
Eleasa Allen