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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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Bar gives nod to appellate practice specialty (access required)

The street where North Carolina's two appellate court buildings sit in calm repose is only a few blocks away from the Wake County courthouse, where defendants and witnesses gather on the front steps outside. But although the attorneys and judges inside each building are after the same result - justice and advocacy - they are worlds apart. Appellate work is very different from other types of advocacy, said Elizabeth Scherer (pictured), an attorney with Smith Moore Leatherwood who is on the committee that is developing the requirements for the new appellate specialty.

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Wreck injuries not speculative for woman with MS (access required)

The city of Charlotte, Transit Management of Charlotte and city bus driver Dennis W. Napier argued that Lynda Springs' progressive multiple sclerosis would have eventually rendered her helpless. So when Springs lost the use of her right arm and shoulder after the bus Napier was driving rear-ended Springs' van at an intersection, the city, TMOC and Napier denied responsibility for her permanent injuries. The impact broke the back of Springs' wheelchair and thrust her body into the front of the bus, said her attorney, Thomas L. Odom (pictured).

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Lawyer-owned mug shot tabloid piques Ethics Committee (access required)

You've seen them for sale at convenience stores and gas stations - those tabloid-size papers that feature the confused and dazed countenances of everyone who has been arrested that week, a parade of mug shots with criminal charges listed below each picture. In the Triangle, Charlotte or Triad areas, the tabloid is The Slammer, published by Isaac Cornetti of Raleigh, a 30-something entrepreneur who says he's trying to entertain and inform. But in Pitt County, a tabloid called the Jailbird that bills itself as "your local weekly mugshot newspaper," was until recently was owned by two Greenville defense attorneys.

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State Bar wants to know your race, sex and age – will you tell? (access required)

After years of discussion, the N.C. State Bar will begin gathering information about the race, gender and age of its members this spring in a new effort to measure the diversity of attorneys throughout the state. Susan Dotson-Smith, past president of the N.C. Association of Women Attorneys, said her organization was pleased that the measure is moving ahead. "It is difficult to measure how accessible the profession is for all people when you don't know how many people are women or people of color," she said.

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10 NC lawyers honored as Emerging Legal Leaders

North Carolina Lawyers Weekly recognized some of the state's brightest young lawyers at its first annual Emerging Legal Leaders event on Tuesday at the Proximity Hotel in Greensboro. Ten attorneys were selected from of a pool of 30 nominees for their outstanding leadership in their profession, community and personal lives. "It is obvious that you are the ones who consistently go above and beyond what is asked of you," publisher Tonya Mathis told the 115 attendees at the event, which was sponsored by Kilpatrick Stockton.

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Chicago Title pays church $698,000 on $100,000 policy (access required)

Andrew Fitzgerald's (pictured) first foray into title insurance was over a half-million-dollar success. He was hired by Reynolda Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem to sue Chicago Title Insurance Company after the insurer allegedly failed to defend the church against claims its neighbors brought against it. The church housed its administrative offices in "Harper House," which was situated on one of two parcels it acquired in 2001. At the time it acquired the parcels, the church also purchased a policy of title insurance from Chicago Title. The policy covered the church for losses related to title of up to $100,000.

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City or suburbs? Firms see benefits in both settings (access required)

When Smith Anderson's lease in a downtown Raleigh building came up for renewal this year, the firm had its pick. The recession had pushed rents lower, and high vacancy rates made it a tenant's market. But after a decision-making process that included looking at locations both in and out of town, North Carolina's ninth largest law firm decided to stay put, keeping its staff of over 200 in the Wachovia building on Fayetteville Street. "We looked at existing buildings in Raleigh and the Triangle," said Carl Patterson Jr., managing partner of Smith Anderson Blount Dorsett Mitchell & Jernigan, speaking from his office in the rose-slate tower that helped redefine Raleigh's skyline. "But this is right in the middle of state government, the legislature. The Department of Revenue is here. Our clients interface with them all the time, and that's where we need to be."

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Title insurers feel continued pinch of Great Recession (access required)

After a decade of rising revenue, title insurance companies operating in North Carolina saw their numbers fall for the second straight year in 2009. Direct title insurance premiums earned fell to below $115 million for the first time since 2003 after a record high in 2007 of $168 million. Direct premiums earned in 2008 totaled $145 million. Chapel Hill-based Investors Title Insurance Company had the largest market share of N.C. title insurers, with 24.1 percent. It earned $26.8 million in premiums.

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