Ethical Compliance in the “New Normal”: How to Comply with the Rules of Professional Responsibility When Practicing Remotely

Deepika Ravi

Deepika Ravi

Amy Richardson

Amy Richardson

By Deepika Ravi and Amy Richardson

Many of us have heard discussions of a “new normal” when it comes to the practice of law – a movement toward a hybrid approach to work that gives lawyers the flexibility to work from the office, from home, or from another non-office location. One thing is clear: times have changed, and for many of us, remote practice (at least part-time) is here to stay. But when remote work is a choice, instead of a necessity while offices remained closed due to COVID-19, what are the implications for our ethical compliance?

Read more

Pro Bono Opportunities – Without Even Leaving (or Going to) the Office

By Matt Krueger-Andes and John Boutwell

As we work our way through (another) tumultuous year, one bright spot is the continued opportunity to provide pro bono services virtually – from your home, office, or wherever you may be. These opportunities make it even easier to give a few minutes of your time and expertise to those who need it most.

In recognition of our section’s strong tradition of pro bono and community service work (and of course, National Pro Bono Week), we highlight several current and upcoming pro bono opportunities below.

Happy Pro Bono Week!


Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They are also central to many of our communities. The pandemic has been rough on small businesses, and NC LEAP (Lawyers for Entrepreneurs Assistance Program) is your chance to help. Though NC LEAP, volunteer attorneys can provide pro bono advice to small businesses through webinars and clinics. For more information on this great opportunity, click here.

NC Free Legal Answers Initiative

The NC Free Legal Answers program continues to be a great pro bono opportunity – and again one that is available from the comfort of your own home. Through this program, you can volunteer to offer your legal expertise virtually and remotely 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

How does it work? Qualifying North Carolina residents post their civil legal questions to the website. Attorney volunteers will be able to log in to select questions to answer and provide legal information and advice – all anonymously. The “client” will then be emailed when their question receives a response. Where more in-depth legal representation is needed, information about referrals and other legal services projects will be made available. You can volunteer now by clicking here.

Wills for Heroes

Wills for Heroes is the long-running estate planning program that provides free legal assistance to first responders and their families. As part of this program, volunteer attorneys can assist with drafting simple wills, health care power of attorney and financial power of attorney documents for these front-line workers – some of the true heroes throughout this pandemic. To check out the details of this program, click here.

4ALL Statewide Day of Service

One day each year, volunteer attorneys across the state come together to field and answer legal questions from fellow North Carolinians.

Last year’s 4ALL was a big success – volunteers answered over 9,500 calls (whoa) and assisted people across the state with questions related to housing, family law, estate planning, bankruptcy, business and tax matters, immigration and many other legal needs.

Can we beat that this year? Stay tuned for details – and in the meantime, find more information about this opportunity here.

Litigation Section Council Ethics Update

By Marilyn R. Forbes

At its July 2021 meeting, the State Bar Council approved a new aspirational provision in the Preamble to the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct, stating that a lawyer should treat all persons encountered in a professional capacity equally, courteously, respectfully, and with dignity, regardless of personal identifying characteristics. The proposed amendment will be sent to the North Carolina Supreme Court for potential adoption.

Read more

Welcome to a New Bar Year!

By Amy E. Richardson

“I believe in hope. I believe in BELIEVE.” – Ted Lasso

When I started to practice law in North Carolina, the Litigation Section was critical to making me feel at home. It was a source of information, legal education, professional connections and friendships. My goal as Section Chair this year is to provide those same opportunities and connections to you as members of the section.

Read more

John R. “Buddy” Wester Receives The Advocate’s Award

By Rick Conner

The Litigation Section is thrilled to be able to recognize John R. “Buddy” Wester as the 13th recipient of The Advocate’s Award. Wester, who served as president of the North Carolina Bar Association in 2009-2010, was recognized at the annual meeting of the Litigation Section on May 18, 2021, conducted via Zoom. You can view a recording of the award presentation here (Passcode 2L02D+ws).

John R. “Buddy” Wester

Russell Rawlings wrote a wonderful article about Wester for North Carolina Lawyer, and that story can be found here.

The Advocate’s Award is presented by the Litigation Section as merited to recognize members who are the “superstars” of our Bar, and recognizes litigators who 1) have the highest ethical standards; 2) have shown great skill and ability as litigators/trial lawyers and commitment to the very best work product; 3) demonstrate a true commitment of service to clients; 4) demonstrate a respect for and love of the law; 5) are held in the highest regard by both bench and bar; 6 ) are dedicated to the community and the bar with a track record of pro bono or volunteer service; and 7) serve as an example of how to effectively balance both outstanding professional performance and other life endeavors. Read more

Don’t Miss CLE and Events for the Litigation Section

By Rick Conner

The Litigation Section has three upcoming events that you will not want to miss!

First, on May 18, at noon EDT, the Litigation Section will hold its annual meeting via Zoom.  All members are welcome to attend. We will discuss the section’s activities, introduce our new officers and council members, and present The Advocate’s Award, our section’s highest honor, to another esteemed member of our section. Register now to attend!

Read more

North Carolina Courts Take Another Step Towards Digital Filing

By Adam Banks

Last week the Supreme Court of North Carolina adopted amendments to the General Rules of Practice, clearing the way for the implementation of the Judicial Branch’s eCourts initiative. In case you missed it, over the next few years, North Carolina Courts will implement the Odyssey Integrated Case Management System (Odyssey ICMS), which among other things, will allow attorneys to file pleadings digitally.

The Supreme Court’s recent order affects the following rules:

  • Rule 5, “Filing of Pleadings and Other Documents in Counties with Odyssey”
  • Rule 5.1, “Filing of Pleadings and Other Documents in Counties Without Odyssey”
  • Rule 22, “Local Rules of Practice and Procedure”
  • Rule 27, “Sealed Documents and Protective Orders”

Read the rest of the NCAOC’s press release here — LINK.

The first four counties — Harnett, Johnston, Lee, and Wake — are projected to go live on Odyssey in August 2021. Electronic filing is one small component of the eCourts initiative. For a full listing of all the changes you can expect in the near future, please visit NCAOC’s eCourts webpage for a comprehensive explanation of the eCourts initiative and rollout plan — LINK.

Using Collaborative Law to Resolve Business Disputes – It’s Not Just for Divorce Anymore!

By Lisa P. Sumner

Disputes between members of a family-owned or closely-held business or parties to a long-standing business relationship are similar to divorces in many ways – emotions run high and the parties may need to keep working together, like it or not. Instead of the best interests of the children, the common goal could be to keep a business that’s lasted for three generations alive or finish a construction project that will no longer be economically viable if one party pulls out and heads to court.

Read more

Nominations for the Advocate’s Award are Open

By Donald Pocock and John Jo

The NCBA Litigation Section is seeking nominations for the Advocate’s Award, the highest award of the Litigation Section. The award was established to recognize members of the Litigation Section who are the superstars of our profession. A description of the award, the necessary qualifications, past winners of the award, and a nomination form is available on the Litigation Section page of the North Carolina Bar Association’s website by clicking here.

The nomination process has been streamlined for 2020/21. Nominations can be submitted online using a fillable form. The Advocate’s Award Committee hopes to receive many deserving nominations. We all have been privileged to work with some truly great litigators, so make sure to nominate the superstars you know for the Advocate’s Award. The deadline for this year’s nominations is March 26, 2021.

Please note: (1) the award may be conferred and nominations may be made posthumously; (2) nominees who do not receive the award may be considered for the award in subsequent years without being re-nominated; and (3) nominees who are currently practicing must be a member of the Litigation Section to be considered for the award.

Calling for Content!

PJ Puryear

Adam Banks

Tandy Mathis

By PJ Puryear, Adam Banks, and Tandy Mathis

Since the last 27 days didn’t give you much bandwidth to absorb any more new information, you may have missed the fact that we haven’t posted any new content to the blog yet. Our goal is to have a new article up every week, so we are already behind schedule. Which is partly why we are now calling on you!

The success of this blog depends on our members sharing their knowledge and experiences, as well as upcoming opportunities and events. Posting to the Litigation Section Blog is not only a good way to make sure your colleagues are informed, but to make sure they know who you are. All of us have likely seen referrals from other counsel, and showing your knowledge here can help you with that endeavor.

Read more