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Medical errors study fuels med-mal reform debate (access required)

As lawmakers continue to push a bill that would limit medical malpractice lawsuits, opponents are boosting their criticism of the measure, pointing to a recent study showing that hospital errors occur ten times more frequently than previously thought. "We have always discussed the 98,000 patients who die from medical errors each year," said Sue Steinman, director of Policy at the American Association for Justice, referring to the 1999 estimate by the Institute of Medicine. "This study reinforces the fact that the numbers we have been talking about are in actuality extremely low."

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Coach’s Corner: What makes a law firm a good place to work?

Every law firm is, or should be, a team, with lawyers, staff and support personnel committed to a team effort for providing the best possible service and work product for the benefit of clients. Involving everyone in the office so that they feel a sense of inclusiveness, understanding their roles and looking forward to exercising them, creates a better and more successful firm. At too many law firms, unfortunately, this does not exist.

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Lender sanctioned for repeated violations of automatic stay (access required)

A lender that repeatedly entered a couple's property despite the fact that an automatic stay had been imposed during bankruptcy proceedings has been sanctioned for the violation. The sanction came in In re Sands, a matter in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. HSBC bank was ordered to pay the Sands' $1,200 in attorney's fees incurred when Winston-Salem attorney Kristen S. Nardone brought the motion for sanctions and appeared at two hearings on the motion.

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Bills would bring sweeping changes to workers’ comp system (access required)

North Carolina's workers' compensation system has been around since the late 1920s. Every few decades it gets a bit of an overhaul, with the last one coming 15 years ago. But the renovations anticipated in a Republican-backed bill under consideration in the General Assembly could lead to seismic changes in the system, which is designed to make injured workers whole and prevent lawsuits against employers. Critics of the current system say it can reward people for staying out of work and provides the potential for abuse. But those who support the status quo say the changes being proposed are draconian and would unfairly limit the rights of injured workers.

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Pending bills would revamp points of family practice (access required)

Matters at the heart of the practice of family law in North Carolina are the focus of several bills pending in the state's legislature this spring. Two bills address the payment of child support by non-parents, two would alter provisions relating to protective orders and one would mandate the awarding of attorney's fees to prevailing defendants in cases.

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Womble Carlyle to take on Charleston’s Buist Moore (access required)

North Carolina powerhouse Womble Carlyle is entering the Charleston, S.C., market by acquiring the city's largest law firm. In a merger fueled by the prospect of rapid economic growth in the Charleston area, North Carolina's largest law firm is joining forces with Buist Moore Smythe McGee. They will complete the deal on April 30, partners at both firms told Lawyers Weekly. "We're just very excited. We think this is a great opportunity," said Henry B. Smythe Jr. (pictured), managing director of Buist Moore.

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Senator urges more transparency on law school employment data (access required)

A high-profile voice has joined the call for the American Bar Association to change its rules for how law schools report employment and salary data to prospective students - a push for transparency that North Carolina educators welcome, especially given the increasing recognition that schools nationwide are fudging statistics to elevate their rankings. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., sent a letter to ABA President Stephen Zack on March 31 seeking a "detailed summary" of the organization's plans to implement reforms.

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NC Central law in top 10 for accepted students who enroll (access required)

North Carolina Central University School of Law has been named one of the nation's 10 "most popular" law schools in a ranking released by U.S. News & World Report last week. The listing is based on an analysis of admission yield - the percentage of students accepted by a school who choose to enroll. In the rankings compiled for 2010, Central's law school placed ninth, with a yield of 49.6 percent; of 415 applicants accepted by the school, 206 subsequently enrolled. "We were honored to receive the recognition," said Raymond Pierce, dean of the law school.

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Perdue order creates panel, cedes power for judge picks (access required)

Saying "this is history," Gov. Bev Perdue signed an executive order last week that will establish a nominating commission to screen candidates for consideration when judicial vacancies come open. "You've seen a page turned in the North Carolina judiciary," Perdue said after she signed the bill, flanked by seven former N.C. Supreme Court justices and chief justices from both parties. The order takes effect July 1 and does not require any legislative action.

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