NCAJ has been refocusing their efforts to help the citizens of North Carolina in recent years. The election of Danny Glover as President on June 16th is representative of some of these changes. Glover has been involved with the NCAJ for almost two decades, and he is excited about his opportunity to help NCAJ fulfill its mission over the next year.
About the NCAJ
The NCAJ is an non-partisan association of trial attorneys practicing in a wide range of areas. Its mission is to protecting people’s rights through community, education, and advocacy. and to protect the safety of North Carolina’s families in the workplace, home, and environment, as well as protecting the constitutional rights of the accused.
The NCAJ has over 3500 members in North Carolina. Mostly, the membership consists of lawyers working in the areas of injuries and criminal defense, but also features members from specialties as diverse as family law and eminent domain. The breadth of different legal areas in one organization is unusual among statewide legal associations. Glover credits the current and past leadership for keeping conflicts to a minimum between members of different practicing areas. This variety in the membership makes the NCAJ that much stronger, as members can gain insights into many different areas of law simply by attending events and speaking with their colleagues.
Glover’s election signals some changes in focus that have been taking place at the NCAJ over the last few years. In the past the organization was mainly associated with the Democratic Party, but Glover is a registered Republican.
However, Glover doesn’t see this as incongruent with the organization’s past, or its future: “It should signal a that the change in our organization’s outlook is real. We are no longer concerned with the political affiliation of our allies or our opponents in the legislature. We are more concerned about making sure that the citizens of North Carolina are protected from big government, protected from huge billion dollar corporations, protected from laws and regulations that do not put the safety of the consumers and safety of the workers first, and our political strategy is to support those that agree with our values and to oppose those who do not.”
A Small-town Story
Apart from his political affiliation, Glover’s background is also unusual for a NCAJ president. He comes from a two-man firm in the small town of Elizabeth City. According to Glover, most of the past presidents have come from larger firms located in North Carolina’s larger cities. Another difference is Glover’s extensive experience in both of the legal areas, car accidents and criminal defense, that comprise the practice areas of most members. For him, this is a significant strength.
Glover feels membership in the NCAJ is a boon to lawyers because of the knowledgeable network it can provide, and has some personal stories to make the point. Some of Glover’s biggest cases have been won because of contacts he had in the NCAJ. One of the more difficult cases Glover took on was against the North Carolina Department of Transportation related to a defective highway. It was due in part to the testimony of expert witnesses that Glover had been introduced to through the NCAJ that he was able to win. Even though every form of help may not be so dramatic, just knowing that there are fellow lawyers available to help understand a point of law or a practical issue in a complicated case is an important part of furthering the mission of the NCAJ. Such stories bring home the importance of the organization and what it can do for lawyers protecting their clients’ interests. This is a reason why it may be beneficial for clients to search out lawyers that are members.
How the NCAJ Serves Attorneys and Their Clients in North Carolina
The NCAJ carries out its mission in several different ways. Two of its primary activities are creating a sense of community between its members and advocating for change in the legislature. Members are encouraged to get to know each other at events and discuss legal questions with those that might have more experience.
A listserve provides members with an easy way to ask others in the association for guidance with unfamiliar or difficult legal points. Glover specifically credits this as one of the strengths of joining NCAJ: “These are the [lawyers] most interested in getting better and making other lawyers better. There’s a huge sense of community, there’s a huge sense of sharing.”
The NCAJ also has a Political Action Committee that lobbies for change in North Carolina law to further their mission. In the past, they have also worked with the legislature directly. For instance, Glover served on a task force providing input to the legislature when it was drafting changes to the state’s DWI laws. Additionally, the NCAJ writes amicus briefs to appellate courts, such as the North Carolina State Supreme Court, when they feel the rights of people in North Carolina may be adversely affected.
Education is another important part of the NCAJ’s mission. Continuing legal education for its members as well as lawyers in general is an important function of the NCAJ. This activity also helps its members to stay informed about the latest developments in their legal areas, as well as ways to better and more honorably serve their clients.
Helping the Public
Another aspect of the NCAJ’s services are resources offered to the public, such as a directory of lawyers that are willing to explain points of law in an email or phone call free of charge.