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Feature Stories

Elon clinic aims to help refugees and asylees stay here (access required)

This year, more than 2,700 refugees arrived in North Carolina seeking a new start in life. On New Year's Day, those in the Triad will find a new agency to help them do it. The Elon University School of Law has established the Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic, which will provide free legal services to refugees and those seeking asylum in the state. Its doors open Jan. 1. According to Greensboro immigration attorney Gerard Chapman, the timing for the clinic's opening couldn't be better.

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Firms find creative ways to celebrate the season (access required)

Law firms across the state tightened their belts in 2009 after a year of recession-forced layoffs and cutbacks. This year, although the slow economy is still staring the profession in the face, some firms decided to loosen up the purse strings a little, while others continued to scale back. At Smith Moore Leatherwood's Raleigh office, Brad Risinger said the firm wanted to be frugal. "The emphasis is to protect a nice bonus for the staff," said Risinger, the managing partner of the Raleigh office. At the firm's Greensboro office, employees are traditionally treated to a catered lunch. But one of the real hits of the holiday season was attorney Kent Auberry's (pictured) portrayal of Santa Claus.

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Attorneys could copyright their documents, but should they? (access required)

Of course, lawyers don't need anyone's blessing to copyright their own work. The question is, when they do, are their claimed rights enforceable? The short answer is yes, maybe. Intellectual property attorney John C. Nipp of Charlotte-based Summa, Additon & Ashe told Lawyers Weekly that the requirements for obtaining a copyright are not strict.

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IOLTA forced to tap reserves for second year (access required)

Last year, the board members of IOLTA - the fund that comes from interest on trust accounts - sat around a U-shaped table in downtown Raleigh and did something they didn't want to do: Withdraw $1 million from reserves. One year later, at their annual grant-making meeting earlier this month, they did it again. It wasn't an easy decision, board members said. But in the current economic climate it was the only way to hold somewhat steady on the grants that fund Legal Aid and other organizations that provide help in civil actions for those who can't afford attorneys.

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Doctors, lawyers find common ground helping elderly (access required)

Experts say wariness of medical-malpractice claims and a discomfort that arises from occupations with different bodies of training has historically led physicians and attorneys to operate on separate playing fields. "There's been a mutual suspicion of the other profession," said Dr. Stephen Kramer (pictured), professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem. "They're both highly traditional and learned professions, and you'd think they'd have a lot in common, but the mindset is very different.

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Exam jitters could stall specialization plans for some (access required)

Currently, 784 North Carolina attorneys are certified specialists out of the 19,000 active lawyers who are eligible. The prospect of an exam does indeed play a part in an attorney's decision to get certified. Dan Pope, a workers' compensation attorney in Raleigh who was certified as a specialist last year, said the exam "was like one of those law school exams you can't stop thinking about."

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Charlotte-area lawyers sponsor sister city residents (access required)

Charlotte's sister city is Arequipa, Peru. As sisters go, it is anything but the Queen City's twin. With a population approaching 800,000, North Carolina's banking and finance hub is home to skyscrapers, million-dollar condos and swanky mansions and estates fringed with parks and greenways linking neighborhoods with upscale shopping and dining. Compare that to the Alto Cayma settlement on a windswept perch at over 7,500 feet in the Andean highlands on the fringes of Arequipa. It is short on resources, short on opportunities for its more than 30,000 residents and, some N.C. lawyers say, short on hope. Those same lawyers are trying to change that.

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