Remote Advocacy – Tips for Success


By Kimberly M. Marston

We have all experienced the dread of another Zoom meeting or Webex hearing, but why is it so hard to keep your energy and attention up when the webcam light is on?

And why are we so exhausted at the end of the day?

Before you step in front of the webcam for your next court appearance, it helps to consider some of the “digital drawbacks” and how you can minimize their impact on your advocacy.

Digital Drawbacks

  • Audio-visual delays. Even if the technology is working perfectly, microseconds of delay can impact how we communicate and how we are perceived. Research has shown that even small delays in the transmission of auditory and visual signals affect interpersonal perceptions. Delays of only 1.2 seconds led to perceptions that a person was less friendly or less focused.
  • Eye contact. We all know that it’s missing from our online interactions. It matters because there is robust psychosocial evidence that eye contact improves not only connection, but also memory.
  • Distractions. Going to court over Zoom or Webex is like walking into the courtroom with a giant mirror and placing it between you and the bench. It’s too easy to spend the entire time looking at yourself. Meanwhile, your listeners are facing their own struggles — kids, pets, coworkers, technology failures (or user errors), email notifications, and the temptation of multitasking.
  • “Zoom Fatigue.” We normally process non-verbal communications automatically. However, the small amount of non-verbal communication that makes it onto our screens must be consciously observed. That’s taxing. Added to that is the heightened stress caused by the increased emphasis on facial expressions and cues. This “cognitive load” (the use of working memory resources) means your mind will want a break more often than it did when everyone gathered in one place. Read more

The Second Biennial Diversity and Inclusion Symposium


Tawanda Artis

Niya Fonville

By Tawanda Artis and Niya Fonville

We are thrilled to announce the Minorities in the Profession (MIP) Committee’s second biennial Diversity and Inclusion Symposium. This free, virtual program will be held December 11, 2020, from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. This Symposium is open to any attorney or legal professional interested in diversity and inclusion issues.

Reverend Jesse Jackson once said, “[i]nclusion is not a matter of political correctness. It’s the key to growth.” Regardless of one’s political leanings, or feelings toward Rev. Jackson for that matter, we cannot deny the truth of this statement. While MIP is dedicated to promoting an increase in the number of minority attorneys in the N.C. State Bar, it is also focused on creating an inclusive legal profession — an environment where all members feel heard and their experiences are valued and genuinely incorporated within a structure that may not have traditionally been so welcoming. Inclusivity impacts relationships between colleagues, attorney morale, and how effectively we serve our clients. We all have a part to play in creating and maintaining inclusive spaces. As a profession, as a nation, and as members of this global community, we have an obligation to educate ourselves and hold each other accountable when we fall short. The events of the past several months make this program timelier than ever and demonstrate why change is necessary and why the time is now. We are excited to build on the momentum in many firms and organizations across the nation who are auditing current programs and exploring new initiatives in this sphere.

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YLD Member Perspective: A Holistic Approach to Hiring


By Kayla Britt

I flunked out of law school in 2014. Now, in 2020, I’m a licensed attorney and a law clerk to the Honorable Reuben F. Young on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The story of how I got to where I am today is significant and life-changing.

We are more than our setbacks. Those of us who have faced a perceived “failure,” including those who have been academically dismissed or had to sit for the bar exam more than once, should stand just as much of a chance as those who did not. “Qualifications” are extremely important, but seeing a person as more than a resume is important, too.

North Carolina Central University School of Law gave me not one but two chances to achieve my dreams. During my 1L year, I did the required reading and prepared to respond to cold calls, but I did not study effectively for exams. I worked hard but not smart, and I was ultimately dismissed. When I was readmitted to law school in 2016, I was so focused on my grades that I did not build my resume by becoming involved in many student organizations or other extracurricular activities. When it was time to apply for post-graduation jobs, I was just an average candidate, but that did not stop Judge Young from giving me the opportunity of a lifetime. In one hiring decision, he changed the whole trajectory of my career.

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Ketan Soni Presents “The New Community Platform”


By Ketan Soni

What You Need to Know About the New Community Platform

This year, the NCBA has switched to a new online community platform. This new community platform for Sections, Divisions and Councils offers many more features than the previous system. Below is a summary of the basics and what you need to know to utilize this platform and its features.

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North Carolina Court System Launches Free, Online Document Preparation Tool


By Alicia Mitchell-Mercer

The North Carolina Court System has launched a free, online document preparation tool that is available for self-represented litigants, paralegals, and attorneys.

Guide & File Logo

The North Carolina Judicial Branch has announced the launch of eCourts Guide & File, a new service that allows attorneys and the public to prepare court documents online in just a few easy steps. With free, 24/7 online access and easy-to-understand interview questions, Guide & File will eliminate barriers and simplify the legal process, particularly for the hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who come to court without an attorney every year.

“North Carolina’s courts must be available to everyone who needs them. No one should feel locked out by complicated forms and processes that are difficult to understand, particularly when one cannot afford an attorney,” said Chief Justice Cheri Beasley. “Guide & File is another way that we are making our court system more efficient, more equitable and more accessible.”

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Your Body Holds the Secrets to Avoiding Burnout

By Alicia J. Journey

In a new landscape that is changing every minute, we are being forced to keep up, stay hypervigilant and quickly adapt. This is all a perfect recipe for burnout if we don’t become aware of the signs and symptoms before it’s too late. It can be tempting just to focus on what we can control, which for many of us is our work, and to pour ourselves into it without processing our mental and emotional stress. This can work in the short term, but in the long term, it is a recipe for burnout. If we do not heed the warning signs that our mind, body and emotions are sending us, we risk another pandemic, mass burnout.

I know the journey to burnout out well, but I am thankful that I also know the journey back. And I am here to tell you there is hope and another way not just to survive but to thrive. In 2013, I had just gone through a divorce and had a 2-year-old and a 7-year-old at home. I had just left my job as a prosecutor and opened my own law practice. I have epilepsy, and my seizures became more and more frequent, but I chalked that up to giving birth and hormones. And then, I started having panic attacks. I had no idea what they were. I truly thought I was going to die. Up until that point, I had nerves of steel. I could walk into a courtroom, look a murderer in the eye, and dismantle him on cross-examination. I could walk into a prison armed only with my skirt, high heels and a notepad without even flinching. Nothing had ever fazed me, but now, I was debilitated by panic attacks. I felt weak and stupid.

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2020 Pro Bono Awards Announced


The winners of the North Carolina Bar Association’s 2020 Pro Bono Awards have been selected. The recipients were chosen by members of the NCBA Pro Bono Committee, chaired by Emily Moseley and Jennifer Mencarini.

Congratulations to each recipient and their nominators, who provided the background and biographical information included below for each honoree.

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2020 Legal Legends of Color Honorees Announced


By Sharita M. Whitaker

The word “change” has various definitions, but my favorite expression of change is “to shift; to undergo transformation or transition.” We can certainly say that “change” is inevitable in all aspects of our lives. Thus far in 2020 alone, we have witnessed how COVID-19 and other events have caused many of us to adjust when, how, and where we work and interact with others. Also, the NCBA has had to shift its 2020 Annual Meeting in Charlotte to an online, virtual program. But “change” presents us with an opportunity to reflect on and learn from our experiences and the experiences of others in order for each of us to evolve for the better.

Although we are unable to celebrate together at the Annual Meeting in Charlotte, and we are adjusting to the change by celebrating in other (virtual) ways, we are proud to announce our 2020 Legal Legends of Color honorees: Judge Yvonne Mims Evans, Senator Dan T. Blue Jr., Attorney Anthony Fox, Professor George R. Johnson Jr., and the late Attorney J. Kenneth Lee. In order to be named a Legal Legend of Color, such person must be (1) a lawyer of color practicing (or one who has practiced most recently) in North Carolina for at least 15 years, (2) have had a legal career with a significant impact in North Carolina, (3) have demonstrated a high level of service to his/her local community and/or on an statewide basis, and (4) be a member in good standing of the North Carolina State Bar (active or inactive). These five attorneys have more than satisfied the criteria for being named a Legal Legend of Color, and, further, they have all effected significant positive change in the North Carolina legal community and beyond. We are honored to share snippets of their distinguished careers with you:

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A Geezer Lawyer’s Letter to a 3L

By Franklin Drake

UNC School of Law ’78

Dear Megan,

Congratulations on completion of your 2L year! The rest of your law school career will pass a lot faster than you might think it will. The tedium of your 3L year will quickly give way to terror of the bar exam. I predict you will pass. Your license will mean you can begin to learn how to make a living as a lawyer. Word has it that you will choose to enter private practice, preferably as an associate in a law firm. Good.

Law school has done a good job of teaching you how to think. I doubt it has done a good job of teaching you how to build a law practice. I know my law school did not. Those hard lessons came later for me, with a painfully high tuition of experience. You are at the threshold of a long legal career, just as I am concluding one of 40+ years. It’s time someone whispered the secret truths and showed you the secret handshake. Let me.

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BarCARES is Here for You

By Ann Anderson

Do you need a listening ear during this time? BarCARES is here for you now and always to provide support during any difficult time. Available 24/7 via telehealth (video + audio) or telephone, BarCARES is a confidential, short-term counseling program, cost-free, for members of the NCBA and law students at participating schools.

BarCARES can help all of us as we try to manage and balance family, work, and study in the face of the unknown future. Skilled professionals available through BarCARES assist in dealing with depression, anxiety, financial concerns and marriage and family conflicts, as well as professional stressors. In these challenging and uncertain times, why not utilize a benefit of your NCBA membership and ask for guidance?

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