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Author Archives: Ned Barnett

First a rancher, then a lawyer – now a writer (access required)

Jamie Lisa Forbes knows tough. She was a rancher in Wyoming, raising two kids and 350 head of cattle on 23,000 acres owned by her father’s family. The winters were brutal, the summers searing, the tending unending. She also is undaunted by intellectual wrangling. The ranch was sold in 1993, Forbes’s marriage ended in divorce soon after, and she moved to North Carolina and began work as a paralegal. In 1998, she entered law school at age 48. Now 56, she is forging her third career as a lawyer working on her own in Greensboro with a focus on estates, family law, workers’ compensation and general litigation. Yet for all that, her most challenging work has been facing a blank computer screen. The rancher-turned-lawyer wanted to be one more thing: a writer. She mastered that as well.

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Available for parties, weddings and litigation (access required)

Lawyers thrive on discord, but several members of a North Carolina law firm have been showing an unexpected aptitude for harmony. A group of lawyers with Raleigh-based Poyner Spruill are at the core of a band known as Instruments of Justice. The lawyers are producing plenty of motions, otherwise known as dancing, at Triangle area nightclubs. Instruments of Justice got started in January 2010 when David Dreifus, chair of the firm’s litigation section, sent out an e-mail asking if anyone with musical talent would like to perform during an evening event at the firm’s retreat. He got 13 responses from lawyers and staff members. They soon discovered they could make good music together.

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Redefining “pro bono”   (access required)

Pro bono cases are often simple matters in which a lawyer donates a few hours to resolve a legal tangle on behalf of someone who can’t afford counsel. But sometimes the cases taken on for free can have a huge cost in time and emotion — and a huge payoff in personal and professional satisfaction. That was the kind of case two young Raleigh attorneys (Erin Mulligan Graber and Catherine Bailey, pictured) worked on for months and finally brought to a successful end this summer.

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Can John Edwards resist becoming a “fool client”?  (access required)

Following his indictment in June, former U.S. Senator John Edwards stood and listened as the judge explained his rights. But as the judge went on Edwards interrupted saying he was an attorney and the explanation wasn’t necessary. That exchange in the federal courthouse in Winston-Salem may have been the first flicker of the legal tension that will run through Edwards’ upcoming trial on charges of violating campaign finance laws. It’s a case in which the defendant is also an attorney, and a very good one. What will be the dynamic between Edwards and his defense team? How much will he steer the case and how much will he defer?

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Lawyer turned novelist debunks the bad-writing rap  (access required)

His name is Deaver, Jeffery Deaver and he is, for now, also Bond, James Bond. Deaver, a corporate lawyer-turned master of the crime thriller, is also the author of the latest novel in the James Bond 007 series, “Carte Blanche.” His Bond is an updated version of the spy create by Ian Flaming in 1953. The latest Bond is still in his 30s, but now he's a veteran of the Afghanistan war and equipped with a smart phone that gives new meaning to killer apps. It's appropriate that Deaver stepped away from his 27 crime novels to do a turn at espionage because he is a bit undercover in real life, too. Despite his bestselling books that include one that became the movie, “The Bone Collector,” his is rarely recognized in his adopted home of Chapel Hill.

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Jurors, money and TV: a bad combination (access required)

Raleigh publicist Rick French caused a stir when he approached television networks saying he represented a juror in the recently ended Casey Anthony case and his client would not grant an interview without compensation – reportedly as much as $50,000. French declined to specify the juror and has said there was no price named. So far, no juror has received a check for explaining why the jury in the tabloid-worthy Florida trial didn’t think Anthony was proven to be her two-year-old daughter’s killer. But the episode raised a prospect that worries trial attorneys and prosecutors: Could the usually burdensome task of jury duty become a coveted role for people seeking to cash in on high-profile cases? “If you begin to see jurors who have a financial stake in the case, they could make decisions that they believe would be more valuable to TV or the news media,” said Wade Smith (pictured) of Raleigh, one of the state’s top defense lawyers.

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Young president, old values (access required)

At 44, Martin H. Brinkley is the youngest lawyer to lead the North Carolina Bar Association in over 50 years, but for all his youth what defines him are things old — his old fashioned style, for instance, and his love for the wisdom of the ancients. Brinkley, a business lawyer with the prominent Raleigh firm of Smith Anderson, favors bow ties and quotes freely from the classics of ancient Greece and Rome. Now he wants to give a noble legal tradition new life in North Carolina. His priority as association president is to get more lawyers to donate their time pro bono on behalf of the poor. The words are drawn from a Latin phrase used by Cicero — a Roman writer Brinkley studied as a highly honored classics major at Harvard — “Pro bono publico” or “For the public good.”

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