The North Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program – What Is It, and What Does It Do?

Michelle, a white woman with blond hair, wears a blue blouse and is smiling. By Michelle FormyDuval Lynch

The Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights Section of the NCBA includes attorneys and child advocates who are committed to excellence in the direct representation of North Carolina youth. Three of the most common areas of direct representation of children and juveniles in court are child welfare, juvenile delinquency, and family law proceedings. Attorneys with the North Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program (NC GAL Program) represent children in child welfare proceedings in North Carolina district and appellate courts. This article is a short summary of the NC GAL Program, its purpose, duties, and role in that representation.

Guardian vs. Guardian ad Litem vs. NC GAL Program

A guardian of the person is one who generally has the duties of care, control, and custody of their ward. The term “guardian ad litem” comes from the latin phrase “ad litem” which means “for the purposes of the suit.” A guardian ad litem is usually an individual appointed to appear in a lawsuit on behalf of a minor party or incompetent person. While guardians ad litem may be appointed in a variety of civil and criminal proceedings in North Carolina,[1] the NC GAL Program is only appointed to represent children in abuse, neglect, or dependency (“AND”) proceedings, or termination of parental rights (TPR) proceedings under Subchapter I of the NC Juvenile Code. These cases are initiated when a county department of social services files a juvenile petition; they are sometimes referred to as “DSS court,” but a more accurate name is “child welfare court.”

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How to Promote a Positive View of Lawyers and the Legal Profession

Adam a white man with light brown hair, wears a white shirt, red tie with light polka dots, and a white shirt. He is smiling. By Adam G. Linett

Why are lawyers often mocked and despised in the media, and what can we do about it? As professionals, we have spent years studying the law, and we have dedicated our lives and careers to this profession. So while we may take ourselves seriously, sometimes, it is a shock to walk into a courtroom or to face a group of people from the public who view us no differently from the proverbial “snake oil salesman” or as someone out only for ourselves and prepared to pull a fast one.

Admittedly, some members of our profession have broken the law, stretched the rules of ethics, or generally made themselves a nuisance. But we cannot allow these individual examples to define, or to continue to define, us or our profession. Is there anything we can do to raise the public perception of lawyers, defend our profession, and represent our clients effectively at the same time? Let’s consider three goals we can set this year to push back on these common negative impressions.

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BarCARES Seeks Nominations for Board Members

Ann, a white woman with short blond hair, wears a white blouse and teal jacket.By Ann Anderson

Do you care about the mental health of lawyers, law students and paralegals? Would you like to serve on a board that works towards making a variety of mental health services readily available for colleagues? BarCARES does that and is seeking nominations for Board members.

For those who don’t know, BarCARES is designed to offer no-cost assistance in dealing with problems that might be causing distress and can be used to help with such matters as personal issues, anxiety, substance use, financial concerns, family matters, work issues, professional stressors, and provide help with case-related stress as well as student coaching on all matters including time management.

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“The” Ohio State University and the Trademark Protection of Cultural Identity

By Andrew McClain Adams

College football season is upon us, and The Ohio State University is in the hunt for the playoffs. As good as they have been on the field, the school’s first win came before the season started. In June, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted Ohio State an unusual trademark: the word “The.”

For those unfamiliar with Ohio State, the attempt to claim ownership of a definite article may seem absurd, but the word “The” holds a special place in the heart of Buckeyes everywhere. While it has been a part of the school’s name since 1878, the university made a push in the 1980s to emphasize the word “The” as part of the college’s brand and to distinguish it from other OSU colleges such as Oregon State University and Oklahoma State University.  Since then, the word has appeared on Ohio State merchandise, promotional materials, and is emphasized in the pre-game introductions of Buckeyes competing in professional sports. The school’s first application for the trademark was denied, since the USPTO was skeptical that the word was being used as an indication of source, but their second attempt was approved after demonstrating the sheer amount of marketing and advertising they had poured into creating a link between the word and the Ohio State brand.

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Transforming Transformative Use: A Synopsis of Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith

KimberMarie, a white woman with brown hair, wears a white shirt and green jacket and is smiling.By KimberMarie Faircloth

On October 12, 2022, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.(AWF) vs. Lynn Goldsmith, et al.[1] The main issue revolves around “transformative” use under the Copyright Act[2] and how transformative the work must be to be protected by the doctrine of Fair Use and not infringe another’s copyright.[3] In 1994, the Supreme Court considered a case regarding transformative use, Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., in which the Court held that 2 Live Crew’s parody on Roy Orbison’s song, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” was protected under fair use and that the lower court erred in finding otherwise because they solely looked at the commercial nature without weighing the other fair use factors.[4] The Court also defined “transformative” as “add[ing] something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the first with [a] new expression, meaning, or message.”[5] The more a work transforms the original, the less the other fair use factors will weigh in the analysis because transforming a work emphasizes “the heart of the fair use doctrine’s guarantee of breathing space within the confines of copyright.”[6] Transformative use also came up in 2020 with Google LLC v. Oracle America, Inc., where the Court found Google’s use of a portion of code from the Sun Java API, a computer program using Java programming language, to be “new” and “transformative” enough to constitute fair use.[7]

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Making Attorney Self-Care an Atomic Habit

Ashley Banks is a young woman with golden brown hair and brown eyes. She is pictured smiling against a black background, and she is wearing a red shirt and a black blazer. By Ashley Banks

As legal professionals, we dedicate significant time and energy to improving our practice, our knowledge, our business. But how much time do we devote to improving the way we care for ourselves? When is the last time you reviewed your self-care routine, implemented new self-care strategies, or set time aside for self-care planning? If you’re like me, your self-care routine may benefit from a well-designed system — James Clear’s Atomic Habits system.

Self-Care is Key for Legal Professionals, But it is Not Our Forte

As advocates serving others in a myriad of ways, our profession is notorious for disregarding the well-established principle of “fitting our own oxygen mask first.” But, it’s because we are advocates serving others in a myriad of ways that fitting our own oxygen mask first is so critical.

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Disability Access in the Practice of Law – Begin Making Your Law Firms More Accessible for Disabled Employees and Clients with this Simple Checklist

Derek, a white man with blond hair, stands before a sunny window and wears a black suit and gray plaid tie over a white shirt.By Derek J. Dittmar

You may be unintentionally excluding a quarter of your clients and coworkers.

Twenty-six percent of adults living in the United States live with some sort of disability. However, fewer than one percent of American attorneys report having a disability, which can include sensory, physical, emotional, cognitive, and psychological conditions, many of which are not immediately perceivable by the public. It is unsurprising that most legal providers do not know how to make their services, offices, and products accessible to persons with disabilities (PWDs). When our profession is not conducted with a focus on accessibility for clients, and when we lack disabled coworkers to provide their lived and learned expertise, we are giving up, or greatly limiting, the chance to work for, and with, PWDs. Obviously, law schools have a vital role to play in expanding opportunities in the practice of law for PWDs, but that is the subject of a different post. Today, I am going to focus on why ensuring accessibility is both a legal and ethical obligation for attorneys and firms, in addition to simply being good business sense. Read more

Micro Mindfulness For Modern Lawyers

By Colleen L. Byers

We don’t need anything else to add to our to-do list. We don’t need to overhaul our entire practice. Instead, we can do one little thing that could make a big, positive impact through a practice called micro mindfulness.

Micro mindfulness is a practice of interspersing small doses (think less than 0.1 of your time) of attention to the present moment a few times throughout the day. It’s as simple as adding just a pinch of salt to enhance your meal. As my late grandmother used to say, “A little bit will do ya.”

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An Aspirational Statement of Equality and Civility

By Adam G. Linett

The North Wind and the Sun got into a dispute about which one was stronger. To put the issue to a test, they decided that whoever sooner made a traveler take off his cloak would be the more powerful and win the argument.

The Wind blew with all its might, but the stronger he blew, the closer the traveler wrapped the cloak around him. Then, the Sun came out and, as it gently shone brighter and brighter, the traveler sat down and, overcome with heat, cast his cloak to the ground.

So goes one of Aesop’s fables, and the lesson taught some thousands of years ago is that persuasion is better than force, and that to be effective in winning an argument, one must consider how to argue, rather than to just rely on blunt force.

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By Coleman Cowan

In the summer of 2009 I traveled to a small village in the Ramsdalen valley of Norway to shoot a story for 60 Minutes about a group of adventurers jumping off cliffs and flying to the ground in wingsuits. We hired one of them to shoot video while they were in flight. He was from South Africa but had been living for the past few years with his girlfriend in a VW Bus in the French Alps. Julian Boulle was his name.

I lived with Julian in a farmhouse for two weeks during our shoot. We were together morning, noon, and night. Julian proved to be incredibly knowledgeable, not only about the techniques and mechanics of wingsuit flying, but also some of the greater existential aspects of living so close to death. As the days wore on, and the nights became longer, our conversations branched out far beyond the story we were shooting. The more we talked, the more it seemed Julian had been everywhere and knew something about everything we talked about – war, politics, world culture. Picture Forrest Gump in dreadlocks. That was Julian . . . if he was to be believed. Halfway through our shoot, I decided I didn’t.

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