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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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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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In a family way (access required)

Marcia Zug entered Yale Law School thinking she wanted to become a judge, because she liked the idea of wielding the law as a tool. But then she changed her mind. Almost a decade later, she’s glad she did. Zug, 33, is an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law in Columbia. She teaches family and American Indian law, and is establishing a reputation as a legal analyst in emotionally charged immigration cases. Last year, for instance, she talked on Public Radio International about a pending Missouri Supreme Court case that involves an undocumented Guatemalan poultry worker, who is facing deportation but does not want to leave without her U.S.-born son. The boy was adopted against his mother’s will during the three years she was in detention.

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Royally honored (access required)

Don't solicit gossip about the royal wedding. That was Raleigh attorney H. Martin Lancaster's first lesson as the newest honorary officer of Order of the British Empire. Even as he chatted face-to-face with Prince Charles not one week after the worldwide frenzy surrounding the prince's son's nuptials, Lancaster bit his tongue. The two men stood amid blooming roses and azaleas in the spectacular garden of the British Embassy. Female attendees hatted themselves with colorful fascinators.

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Still down, but not out (access required)

Business isn't bullish, but it's not barren, either. That's the most recent verdict handed down from leaders of the firms ranked in Big 25, Lawyers Weekly's annual survey of the state's largest law firms. Nationwide, the past three years were marked by doomsday headlines that reported floods of layoffs for both attorneys and staff at large firms as a result of the recession. Firms hunkered down by cutting costs, freezing summer programs and deferring starts for new associates. North Carolina's Big 25 weren't exempt, either.

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Drawing boundaries with clients (access required)

While many lawyers pride themselves on client service, few enjoy losing their nights and weekends to client calls and emails. Lawyers must balance their need for personal time with the importance of providing great client service, advises Erik Mazzone (pictured), director of the Center for Practice Management at the North Carolina Bar Association in Cary. That said, "being a lawyer is a hard job and having the time to recharge your batteries allows you to be better at your job," Mazzone says. "I'd go home and ask my spouse: ‘Do I need boundaries?'"

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Discipline should focus more on clients’ freedom than cash

Holly Bryan is the president of the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys and a career counselor for the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill. At UNC, she helps students and alumni with all aspects of job searching and career development, with a focus on examining government and alternative careers. She also has a special interest in issues that affect women in the legal world.

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NC lawyers question thoroughness of outsourced title search (access required)

Outsourcing is nothing new, and businesses have been outsourcing certain operations to India for years. But property and property law in North Carolina, for the most part, is local - at least for now. Still the push is on from industry and, arguably, the federal government to nationalize the attorney-controlled real estate system in the state. A company based in Bangalore, India, has been offering its title abstracting services in North Carolina for at three years, according to its managing partner, M.S. Shridhar.

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