Trial Briefs

Come To Convention: Let’s Get To Know Each Other All Over Again

April 20, 2022   |   Kim Crouch

It’s almost party time!  

NCAJ will host its Annual Convention this summer for the first time since the pandemic began and we can’t wait to get back together again.  

Find the details and register for Convention 2022 here.

This year, we are convening in Charlotte, where most of our Convention activities will take place at the Marriott City Center, a modern Uptown hotel that will give us plenty of room for staple Convention activities including section meetings, CLEs and Annual Meeting and some special surprises like a Bloody Mary and Mimosa bar to get things started Friday morning. Our speakers include the dynamic Sari de la Motte aka The Attorney Whisperer as well as political consultants Morgan Jackson and Paul Shumaker, who will give us their take on North Carolina’s political scene. 

We plan to make the most of the Queen City while we are there. Thursday evening we will kick things off with a welcome reception at Truist Stadium’s rooftop space before we watch the Charlotte Knights take on the Jacksonville Shrimp. On Friday evening, we’ll head over to Noble Smoke for some of the best pulled pork, brisket and fried pies in the South. While we’re there, members can take a look behind the barbecue curtain with tours of Noble Smoke’s massive smokehouse. And on Saturday night, we’ll wrap it all up with a stellar “Music Through the Decades” party featuring the Most Valuable Players band.  

A Chance To Celebrate Our Legacy

As NCAJ celebrates 60 years this year, we continue the legacy of collegiality and unity even though it will feel different than it has in years past. We will celebrate our founders with a newly established Founders Award. 

This year also marks 20 years of the Ebbie Bailey Awards. These awards are named after Ebbie Bailey, the First Lady emeritus of NCAJ, who helped founding member Allen Bailey establish the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers. Former NCAJ President Janet Ward Black established the Ebbie Award during her presidency in 2003 to recognize service and inspired commitment to NCAJ and its mission.

Convention will also provide an opportunity for our past presidents and leaders to tell their stories. We have arranged to have a storytelling video booth at the hotel where we will interview of longtime members of NCAJ and capture their answers on video. Why did they initially join NCAJ?  What kept them engaged over the years? And what are some of their most vivid memories of this organization?    

The space will be open Thursday and Friday, and members will be able to sign up in advance for time slots to come talk with one another on camera about their beloved organization. NCAJ will then create a video series that we will post on various mediums throughout the rest of the year as we continue to celebrate our 60th anniversary.  It promises to be a highlight of the weekend and will create an invaluable archive of institutional memories.  

A Chance To Reflect and Reinvigorate

After COVID-19 put our lives on pause to large degree, we now have a chance to catch our breath and consider what comes next. NCAJ, like the rest of the world, is experiencing a moment that may never come again and has a real opportunity to craft a successful future.  Convention will not only give us a chance to be together but a chance to redefine who we want to be and what we, as an organization, are going to look like and focus on as we return to a new normal after the pandemic.  

We will always be an organization of trial lawyers that has one another’s backs, but it is my hope that Convention will offer us a chance to push the reset button and ask “Where do we want to go from here?”

COVID-19 was a hardship for all of us in so many ways, but it also offered some silver linings. Most notably, it bought work-life balance and mental health to the forefront.  

There’s no question that being a trial lawyer is an emotional and mentally draining profession. Our members continue to express concerns about the courthouse confusion from district to district in terms of expectations, the backlog in calendaring of cases, the ability to plan and prepare given the current state of the profession, and fears about making an honest living into the future. We need to speak that truth at Convention and provide a helping hand to those struggling among our ranks.  

Perhaps we do not have to be all things to all people in this new era. Perhaps we can be true to ourselves and our desires.  Perhaps each of us can respect and honor one another as members of this community despite our different political perspectives. Perhaps we can focus on acceptance.  

Convention offers us a chance to reinvigorate our commitment to the cause and reinvent how we fulfill our organizational mission in a post-Covid world. It is my sincere hope that Convention is the launching pad for us to begin these conversations and take care of each other.   

A Chance To Build the Next Generation

NCAJ’s Convention will also focus on building the next generation as much as on celebrating the last.  

In January 2022, NCAJ launched the NCAJ NEXT program to engage NCAJ’s future generation of trial lawyer leaders in North Carolina. The program’s goals are to educate participants in the benefits and the expectations of NCAJ membership, to offer an environment for members to build strong relationships with fellow young trial lawyers from a variety of locales and practice areas and, ultimately, to better prepare tomorrow’s trial lawyer leaders today.  

This year’s Convention will recognize and honor all those involved this terrific program. During Annual Meeting on Saturday, we will celebrate the inaugural leadership class as well as thank the program co-chairs, Noah Abrams, Kristen Beightol, Cheyenne Chambers and Kristen Dewar, for their hard work and efforts to create such a dynamic and innovative program.  

A Chance To Unite

Convention will offer so many opportunities for NCAJ and the members within. We will unite with our colleagues and recharge in the fight of protecting people, preventing injustice and promoting fairness for the citizens of North Carolina.  

It’s a weekend you won’t want to miss! 

Please join us and register now at ncaj.com/convention.

About the Author

Kim Crouch

Executive Director

Kim Crouch

Executive Director

Kim Crouch has served as executive director of NCAJ since 2017. She brings to the job 15 years of experience in leading legislative advocacy and public affairs in both the public and private sector. As director of governmental affairs for the North Carolina Bar Association for nine years, Crouch led strategic legislative policy for the largest non-profit association for legal professionals in the state, where she honed her skills in coalition building, lobbying and stake-holder management. 

Before her time at NCBA, Crouch served as director of public affairs for the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. 

As executive director at NCAJ, Crouch manages the systems and staff of the organization with a constant focus on improving efficiency in order to provide excellent member service and support NCAJ’s mission to empower a strong community of trial lawyers across our state. Currently, she also serves on the board of North Carolina’s Equal Access to Justice Commission, which works to expand access to the civil justice system for low-income people, and on the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism.  

Crouch holds a bachelor’s degree in public policy and public relations from Syracuse University and juris doctor from the University of North Carolina School of Law.   

She and her husband, Edward, live in Cary with their two children, Cooper and Casey.