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Corporate Counsel Section Website › Newsletters › The Business Lawyer, July 2011 › The Chair’s Comments: A Word from Andrew Spainhour

The Chair’s Comments: A Word from Andrew Spainhour

Article Date: Monday, July 11, 2011

During college, I gained valuable life experience as a columnist for the school newspaper. It all seems quaint now, the idea of students holding smudgeable newsprint between extended arms, looking up only to pass along the latest outrage to an unlucky roommate. My big lesson from those days is one that has held me in good stead as an in-house lawyer: you will never make everybody happy. The second biggest lesson was to decline any future invitation to write a column.

In this case, I was not invited.

I appreciate, I should say, the opportunity to serve as chair of your section in the year to come. John Orgain, our immediate past chair, brought wisdom and grace to the role, to say nothing of an almost Henry Clay-like knowledge of the workings of the legislature. His reports on issues of interest to the organizations we serve were not to be missed, and I have every intention of leaning heavily on him so that we will not lose that insight in the sessions to come. All of this is to say that, on behalf of our council, I thank John for his leadership and his gifts of time and energy.

In the year to come, our council will continue to explore how we can add value. My primary goal is for us to refine ways for us to come together, know one another, and learn things that matter to us. Rob Hunter (Winston-Salem based Deputy General Counsel of The Clearing House Payments Company) has volunteered – let me say that again, Rob volunteered – to lead these efforts. While it has been said of the bar at large that struggles with collegiality are due to the adversarial process, in the case of corporate counsel, we struggle with an insularity arising out of being one or among a relative handful in a unique microcosm of non-lawyers. We are a warm and welcoming group, but must know one another better. If we make that effort, we can enhance our support structures in ways that benefit us professionally and personally.

As a council, we will also commit to conclude our regional business meetings earlier, allowing us ample time to network with section members and guests who join us for lunch. When we can secure a compelling speaker, we will have one; when we can't, we won't. And while I cannot promise that we will, for a second year in a row, find ourselves in Ford 150 vans taking a lap around Charlotte Motor Speedway's 24-degree track, we will continue to seek meeting venues that are both accessible and enticing.

Recognizing the importance of collaborating with members of other sections doing the Bar Association's significant work in our state, our section will continue its investment in NC LEAP (North Carolina Lawyers for Entrepreneurs Assistance Program). Assisting NC LEAP in providing pro bono business-related services to low wealth entrepreneurs meets a number of objectives, high among them the chance to help plant small businesses and create jobs. As corporate counsel, we can in particular assist NC LEAP in transferring knowledge through community education initiatives and by helping prepare self- help materials. Whether you are a master at the art and science of corporate record-keeping or last worked on a trademark registration during the Clinton Administration, you know a lot, and NC LEAP needs you.
Building on the success of this year's beautifully planned February CLE at Pinehurst, Jason Hensley (Bernhardt Furniture Company's Senior Counsel) aspires to out-do himself by convening a half-day CLE on September 22. The subject matter of the sessions offered is tailored for corporate counsel. Please plan to join us to get some CLE credit, see old friends, and meet new ones.

Our section will continue to enhance its popular and free teleseminars, spearheaded initially by our newly minted Council Secretary Theresa Jones (Pregnancy Support Services of Wake Forest's COO and General Counsel) and Jim Hutcherson (General Counsel of Winston-Salem's Bahnson, Inc.). We look forward to building on the success of hugely attractive offerings such as "Laying Down the Law: Building a Legal Career Outside the Law Firm Box," in which panelists from non-profits, academia, journalism, and corporate legal departments shared insights for law students and practicing lawyers about their career trajectories.

The year to come promises to be a busy one for all of us. In spite of that, I ask that you consider reserving time to participate in the activities of our section. Please let me reiterate how much we would like to have the opportunity to know you better and support your work in ways that we can. We invite your ideas and suggestions, and we look forward to seeing you in the year to come.

Views and opinions expressed in articles published herein are the authors' only and are not to be attributed to this newsletter, the section, or the NCBA unless expressly stated. Authors are responsible for the accuracy of all citations and quotations.