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District bar interim president has big changes in mind

North Carolina’s 24th judicial district has a new interim bar president who is intent on making some significant changes.

“I’m coming into this to revitalize this bar,” said Anne Fisher, a partner at Henson Fuerst in Boone. She was elected to the post during a special election that the North Carolina State Bar scheduled on June 2, after the former president, Shannon Aldous, did not hold an election to select her successor last fall.

Having no election meant that the district bar was left without a president for the past six months.

Aldous has moved her criminal defense law practice from Boone to Charlotte. She did not respond to an interview request.

Fisher said she wants the district to “hold regular elections and to provide services such as CLE [continuing legal education] at no cost to its members, and to take on pro bono projects and provide a mentoring program for young lawyers coming into the practice.”

She added that she is open to suggestions to improve the district, which encompasses the counties of Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Yancey and Watauga. Only about 150 lawyers practice in those counties, and 100 of them are in Watauga, according to Fisher.

She already has prepared a draft of revised bylaws for the district, which hasn’t had its bylaws updated since 1996. She has proposed lengthening the terms of president and other bar officers, such as vice president and treasurer, from one to two years; allowing bar members to vote for officers by email, mail or fax rather than at an annual meeting; and creating a board of directors with representatives from each county.

The district elects officers based on a rotational scheme – the president is supposed to come from a different county each year – but Fisher wants to use the process to allow bar leaders to percolate up from seats they already hold on the board.

The district’s executive committee, whose members were selected along with Fisher during the special election, will consider Fisher’s proposals during its first meeting, which is slated for June 27.

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