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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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New Bar president’s career path started on a tank in Vietnam (access required)

Tony di Santi was in a tank in Vietnam wondering what he would do with his life after he returned from the war when, suddenly, a memory from childhood brought him back to his hometown of Hendersonville. He couldn't have been more than 13 on that day when he accompanied his mother to see a lawyer in town. He didn't remember the subject of the visit - it might have had something to do with his father not paying child support. "I just remembered how clearly relieved she was when we came home that this man was going to help us," di Santi said. That memory was the beginning of his ambition to become an attorney, and the start of a path that led him to be sworn in as the president of the N.C. State Bar.

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Discovery waives mandatory arbitration clause, court holds (access required)

A nursing home waived its right to compel arbitration after it used interrogatories to seek information from the plaintiff in a negligence suit, the Court of Appeals has ruled in an unpublished decision. "If you send discovery that is not necessarily going to be available in arbitration, you cannot then turn around and seek to compel arbitration," said the plaintiff's lawyer, Sam McGee (pictured). "The defense tried to distinguish [this case] from other cases by arguing that ‘this was only one little set of interrogatories.' But there is no magic number of interrogatories."

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Class action challenges LPS’ grip on foreclosures (access required)

Ever heard of LPS? Many attorneys haven't. But LPS - Lender Processing Services, Inc. - and like business entities exercise more day-to-day control over the conduct of bankruptcy, default and foreclosure cases in North Carolina and beyond than actual "clients." At least that is what several recent lawsuits allege. Shelby-based bankruptcy and foreclosure defense attorney O. Max Gardner III (pictured) said LPS and other providers are "very concerned about network lawyers discussing anything with outside entities."

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