The NC State Bar has issued a comprehensive study of the secure leave policies that apply to state trial and appellate courts.
The report, released in October 2021, is the result of nine months of study by a State Bar subcommittee that solicited input from lawyers and gathered data from judges, judicial officials and AOC administrators.
“The State Bar Council’s interest in the secure leave policies arises from the nexus between the availability of secure leave, attorney wellbeing, and the competency of practicing trial attorneys,” according to this State Bar news release. “[T]he study was undertaken to determine how well the current secure leave rules are working; how the current rules might be improved; what adverse impacts the current rules have on our state trial and appellate courts; and whether secure leave could be designated through a central statewide clearing registry.”
North Carolina’s secure leave rules have been in effect since 2000. The Bar study group said the rules could be improved in four areas:
- The cumbersomeness of the 90-day advance notice requirement.
- The Sunday to Saturday seven day minimum.
- The limitation of secure leave periods to a maximum of three days.
- The awkwardness of the submission procedure.
The subcommittee’s recommendations for revising the rules were sent to the Bar’s Issues Committee for further action.
Read the State Bar news release here.
Read the NC Secure Leave Report here.
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NC State Bar Study on Secure Leave Policies
Here are some key recommendations from the report:
The difficulties with the current rules identified by the survey as well as input from other sources and their own experiences guided the Subcommittee’s rewrite of the rules. The reforms recommended by the Subcommittee include:
- Within a calendar year, an attorney may enjoy 20 days of secure leave for any purpose.
- Secure leave may be taken in minimum blocks of two consecutive days provided the total designated and taken does not exceed 20 days in a single calendar year.
- Saturdays, Sundays and holidays observed by the courts of North Carolina are disregarded for counting purposes (creating the possibility of the four or five day weekends).
- A secure leave period that crosses from one calendar year to another will be counted only against the calendar year in which the day actually occurs.
- Where secure leave is for birth or adoption, it is specifically in addition to the secure leave allowance for any purpose, and secure leave for birth or adoption is taken in blocks of time consisting of complete calendar weeks.
- The designation submission period is reduced from 90 to 45 days before the secure leave period begins and before a proceeding in any of the attorney's cases is scheduled that otherwise conflicts.
- In the event an attorney's plans for secure leave change in whole or in part for any reason, the attorney may move the secure leave to a different period by serving written notice of a modified secure leave period at least 45 days before the modified secure leave period begins and before a proceeding in any of the attorney's cases is scheduled for a time that conflicts with the modified secure leave period.
- If the attorney serves written notice of cancellation or withdrawal, the number of days originally designated but not taken will not be counted against the attorney's annual allowance.
Source: NC State Bar secure-leave-report.pdf (ncbar.gov)
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