Upcoming Pro Bono Opportunities

Matt Krueger-Andes

Will Quick

By Matt Krueger-Andes and Will Quick

As a tumultuous 2020 nears to a close, there has never been a better time to give back to those who are most in need. One way to give back is to share your legal expertise through current and upcoming NCBA pro bono opportunities, a few of which we have highlighted below.

We hope you will help us carry on our Section’s strong tradition of supporting and participating in pro bono and community service activities as we move together into the new year.

Thank you for considering these worthwhile projects.

Read more

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

From Orange to Red: The COVID-19 Wave, Being Prepared, and Being Safe

By PJ Puryear

Unfortunately, prognostications that COVID-19 would disappear post-election did not turn out to be true. As House Stark would say, winter is coming. Everyone seems to be preparing, including Gov. Cooper, who on Monday mandated that masks must be worn indoors whenever someone not in the same household is present and outdoors whenever physical distancing isn’t possible.

Our counties’ court staff, who have already been diligently working to keep courtrooms safe and the wheels of justice turning, have seen Chief Justice Beasley’s emergency directives extended, and in some counties, have issued new updates regarding courthouse procedure and courtroom accessibility. For instance, in Wake County, directives have been issued reducing civil court and clerk operations for Thanksgiving week and beyond, including eliminating all in-person civil superior court hearings through 12/31. Criminal trials have resumed and will continue, but with a significant different look and feel (click here for WRAL’s peek into the courtroom, and here for a picture of the jury packet being given to jurors). A bulleted outline of Wake County’s courthouse operation is below.
Read more

Mey v. DIRECTV, LLC – The Fourth Circuit Broadens the Scope of the FAA to “Infinite” Arbitration Clauses

This post originally appeared on Wyrick.com and has been republished with permission. 

By Katie Ramseur

Arbitration provisions appear in millions of contracts that cover many different types of agreements and transactions. For decades, the United States Supreme Court has expanded the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), which facilitates contract-based dispute resolution through arbitration. Over the years, the FAA’s expansion has helped corporations adopt especially broad, boilerplate arbitration clauses that mandate arbitration for any and all disputes, claims, or controversies between any related party/agent/beneficiary/affiliate arising from or relating in any way to the underlying agreement, aptly named “infinite” arbitration clauses. See David Horton, Infinite Arbitration Clauses, 168 Pa. L. Rev. Online 633 (2020) (defining infinite arbitration clauses as “those that mandate arbitration for all disputes between any related party in perpetuity”). Infinite arbitration clauses are “relatively new and untested.” Mey, 971 F.3d at 287. In Mey v. DIRECTV, 971 F.3d 284 (4th Cir. 2020), the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals expanded the reach of the FAA in a significant way – by allowing corporations to enforce infinite arbitration clauses of a distant affiliate.

Read more

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.

Read more

Adapting Our Section and Practices to the New Reality

By Rick Conner 

“There can be no life without change, and to be afraid of what is different or unfamiliar is to be afraid of life.” – Theodore Roosevelt

In January, when I began to think about my plans and goals for my term as Chair of the NCBA Litigation Section, I had no idea that COVID-19 would pull the rug out from under me.

The worldwide pandemic unfortunately means that at least for this year, we can’t continue our popular networking socials, group attendance at sporting events, and in-person CLEs. The NCBA recently indicated that no in-person events may be planned for the remainder of the Bar Year (ending June 30, 2021).

Read more

Chief Justice Cheri Beasley Extends COVID-19 Modifications to Court Operations

By Adam Banks

As most of you are painfully aware, it doesn’t appear that the coronavirus or the statewide coronavirus restrictions we have been living with since March are going away anytime soon.

Just this week, Gov. Cooper announced a new Executive Order to limit alcohol sales at restaurants after 11 p.m. Although it received much less media attention, this week also included a new Order from Chief Justice Beasley extending Emergency Directives 2-8 until August 28.

The new order simply extends current restrictions, but as a refresher, practitioners may expect the following modifications to court operations:

Read more

When Is A Settlement Agreement A Final Settlement Agreement?

By Charles George

The North Carolina Business Court lists on its website Orders of Significance—unpublished Business Court opinions “regarding a matter of significance.” Although Judge Gale’s order on the enforcement of a settlement agreement last month in Howard, et al. v. Iomaxis, LLC, 20 NCBC 36 did not make the list, it nevertheless serves as a good reminder for practitioners: a mediated settlement agreement leaving additional terms to be memorialized later may result in an unenforceable agreement.

To me, the most interesting part of Judge Gale’s order in Howard was not the conclusion— because as discussed below, the parties did not agree on all material terms, and thus he refused to enforce the settlement agreement—but a citation to N.C. Nat’l Bank v. Wallens, 26 N.C. App. 580, 583 217 S.E.2d 12, 15 (1975). This case was decided well before mediation became mandatory in North Carolina and states that a “reference to a more ‘complete’ document does not necessarily indicate that material portions of the agreement have been left open for future negotiation. It could mean only that immaterial matters, which are of no consequence, will be added to complete the agreement.”

Read more

Catharine Arrowood Receives The Advocate’s Award

By Marilyn Forbes

Congratulations to Catharine Biggs Arrowood, the 12th recipient of The Advocate’s Award and the first to receive the award virtually via Zoom presentation, on Friday, June 19, 2020. The Advocate’s Award is presented by the North Carolina Bar Association’s Litigation Section as merited to recognize members who are the “superstars” of our Bar.

The Advocate’s Award recognizes litigators who 1) have the highest ethical standards; 2) have shown great skill and ability as a litigator/trial lawyer 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

Be a Part of Our Team – the Litigation Section Needs You!

By Rick Conner

Thank you all for being members of the Litigation Section! As you know, your Section membership offers numerous benefits, such as networking opportunities, discounted CLE rates, and the opportunity to read and publish on our blog.

Because of COVID-19, we are living in strange and challenging times, unlike anything any of us have ever seen during our careers. Attorneys, judges, courthouse officials, legal staff, and our clients are all doing their best to adapt to social distancing and public health recommendations that make operating a business and maintaining a litigation practice much more difficult. New rules and recommendations are being written and revised nearly every week, and it is a constant challenge to stay up to speed on the latest developments.

Read more