* GCBA Luncheon January 19 * 2018 Gwinnett Court Directory *  Photos of Holiday Events *
* Accused of Legal Malpractice- What Next? * Past President Interview * Gwinnett Law Office For Sale *
* Law Day 2018 Community Service and  Other Volunteer Opportunities*
 * Last Chance: Membership Purge Coming End of January * & MORE! *
January 2018 News and Updates

S. Carlton Rouse
GCBA President 2017-18
President's Corner : ME 2 WE

Thank you to all the members, firms and friends who helped contribute to the toy drive benefiting the Home of Hope, the Gwinnett Children's Shelter.  As a result of your collective effort and generosity we made a difference in the lives of the children and families residing at the shelter. I also want to thank all those who attended the Holiday Party at the Sugarloaf Country Club. Due to the leadership of Jon Setzer and the assistance of Margaret Washburn, the party was memorable, festive, and enjoyable.
As we get back in the swing of things for 2018, I hope you will have the time to attend our January meeting where representatives from the Georgia Bar will be in attendance to share information concerning the Lawyer Assistance Program and the SOLACE program. 

As always, thank you for your commitment to this organization, your input and your support.

Should you wish to contact me directly, you can email me at: s.carlton@rousecolaw.com

Ken Shigley
January 19th GCBA Luncheon


GCBA January 2018 Luncheon (click to PAY/RSVP)

Friday, January 19, 2018 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM EST

The 1818 Club


Join us in the New Year at the January Bar Luncheon. GCBA wants to make sure you are your healthiest self this 2018. Ken Shigley from the Georgia Bar will be in attendance to share information concerning the Lawyer Assistance Program and the SOLACE program. Click here to read more about Ken Shigley. Start your New Year off right with GCBA!

Click here to learn more about the Lawyer Assistance Program.

Click here to learn more about the SOLACE program. 


We had an amazing turn out for our annual Holiday Party! 

Members and their guests enjoyed the holiday ambiance while 
chatting over beverages,  carving stations, and appetizers. 

Photo Cred: Wesley Person 

#GCBAGIVES: Gwinnett Children's Shelter

GCBA thanks the following members and firms for helping us give the children living in the Gwinnett Children's Shelter Home of Hope a holiday season to remember. 

Family Donors

Chandler, Britt & Jay, LLC - Brittani's Family

Don Osborne - Kesira's Family

Tracie and David Cason - Denise's Family

Ankur Trivedi - Crystal's Family

Quincy Shang and Ashley Schiavone - Chaquetta's Family

Traci Zierk, Torin Togut, Zach Procter, Calvin Williamson, and Thomas Watson
- Karmietta's Family

Monetary and Volunteer Donations

* David Lipscomb * S. Carlton Rouse * Donald Lee *  Judge Tadia Whitner * 
* The Gwinnett County Law Department *
JANUARY 26 & 27

The 2018 Regional High School Mock Trial Competition will be held on January 26th and 27th, and we need volunteers! The students have worked hard to prepare for this competition, and it is important that we have committed volunteer evaluators and judges!  We hope that you will help judge and evaluate these young students again.  I am also excited to announce that this year the Bar's Commission on Continuing Lawyer Competency (CCLC) agreed to extend CLE credit to attorneys serving on Georgia High School Mock Trial Competition judging panels as outlined above! 

If you are interested in participating as either an evaluator or a judge, please complete the short volunteer form by clicking here.
Do not hesitate to contact me directly with any questions or comments.  Thanks, and we look forward to seeing you there!

Attorney at Law
Dir:    770-236-9781
Fax:    770-236-9709


Georgia Academic Decathlon Judges Needed for Speech and Interview Competitions

The Georgia Academic Decathlon (GAD) needs around 150 Gwinnett attorneys and other volunteers to serve as judges for their annual high school academic competition the evening of Friday, February 23, 2018. Judges will  be needed for the Speech and Interview Competitions. Further information and Volunteer Forms are on the PAGE web site at www.pageinc.org/GADvolunteerinfo.

GAD  is a high school competition where teams of 9 students (3 - A, 3 - B, and 3 - C students) compete in different areas of academics. The regional winners compete at the state competition each year at Berkmar High School.

I hope we can count on your support of this great event. Please feel free to call or email me with any questions. My info is below. I look forward to meeting you in February at GAD!

Dee Rule
Volunteer Coordinator, GAD
Administrative Associate II
Kennesaw State University
Teacher Resource & Activity Corner (TRAC)
585 Kennesaw Ave NW, MD 0131
Kennesaw, GA  30144

#GCBAGIVES: Accountability Court Servabration
Thank you to all GCBA members who came out to celebrate the season of giving with Gwinnett Accountability Courts. Everyone had fun making tutus for the children at CHOA! Special thanks to GCBA Member Wesley Person, who photographed the event and the kids with Santa! Check out some of his pictures below.
LAW DAY 2018
Law Day Community Service Project: Sip & Swine BBQ Festival

Mark your calendars! The Gwinnett County Bar Association's annual Law Day community service project will be held March 2 nd and 3 rd

Once again, this year we will be volunteering as bartenders for the Sip and Swine Festival at Cool Ray Field, benefitting the Gwinnett County Children's Shelter. We are looking for volunteers to help serve beer and wine to those festival-goers with wristbands. Time slots are available and are first come, first serve. Come volunteer and then enjoy the event!
As the dates approaches, the sign up sheet will be provided and can be returned to the Law Day Chair, Amina Bakari at amina.bakari@gwinnettcounty.com .
Stay tuned for more Law Day 2018 details! 

GCBA has updated its membership lists for the 2017-18 year as of January 9, 2018. You may not be a member, even if you receive e-mails from us. Click here to see if you are a current member. 

We will be deleting all non-members for our e-mail and mailing lists at the end of this month. If you aren't a current member, don't worry! Click here to update your membership. It's that easy! 

Please feel free to contact Jon Setzer for any membership queries.

All of the most up-to-date contact information for the Gwinnett Courts in one place! Thank you to Gwinnett AOC & Margaret Washburn for providing this list. 

Past Presidents Interview:
Angela Couch
By Dodie Sachs, Esq.

This article is the second in a series of interviews with past presidents of the Gwinnett County Bar Association. I sent out the same questions to all the GCBA Past Presidents to gain some insight not only into the history of the GCBA but also into the motivation of the Past Presidents themselves. If you would like to participate, please let me know. I would be happy to send you the interview questions.

Angela Couch is a partner with Carothers & Mitchell, LLC practicing in the areas of eminent domain, civil litigation, insurance defense, and government. Prior to joining Carothers & Mitchell, LLC she was the staff attorney for Chief Judge K. Dawson Jackson and Senior Judge Homer M. Stark. She was an assistant solicitor for Gwinnett County, and a Judge in Gwinnett County Magistrate Court. She was the president of the GCBA from 2009 to 2010.

What sparked your interest in the law? According to my family, I've always had a knack for seeing all sides of an issue and arguing any of them; sometimes just for the sake of arguing. My grandfather was the first to suggest that I'd be a good lawyer. I was a preteen at the time, and I didn't really know anything about the law or lawyers. I began researching the practice of law and what was required to become an attorney.

What was your first job out of law school? I clerked for then chief Judge Dorothy Beasley on the Georgia Court of Appeals.

When did you first get involved with the GCBA? I became involved shortly after I arrived in Gwinnett, around 1997.

Who were the first people you interacted with in the GCBA that made an impact? The first people I interacted with in the GCBA that made an impact were Kathy Schrader, Margaret Washburn, Warren Davis, Judy King, Pat O'Kelley, Keith Miles, Melanie Williams, and Mike Sheffield.

In your opinion, how can seasoned lawyers have a greater impact or connection with younger lawyers in Gwinnett? Seasoned lawyers can have a greater impact by being a mentor and help other attorneys in making connections.

When were you President of the GCBA, and who was on your board? I was president from 2009 to 2010. My board consisted of Beth Kinsinger, Matt Reeves, Tuwanda Williams, and Carole Cox.

What was your mission or project when you were President? I had two main projects: the switch to an electronic newsletter, and I moved the luncheon location to downtown Lawrenceville.

How have things changed with the GCBA since you were President? There are so many more new lawyers now. We didn't have that many new folks coming in when I was President.

How has the experience of being GCBA President helped your career? There have been some referrals, but that's not the highlight of my experience. GCBA helped build my confidence, and I've made many great friends and met a lot of great people.

In your opinion, what are the benefits of being a GCBA member? The benefits are getting to interact with fellow lawyers and judges, and getting involved in our community.

What ways do you think your experience can assist the development of the GCBA moving forward? I am currently a member of the Georgia Bar Committee on voluntary bar associations, and I would like to see the Gwinnett County Bar Association participate more in the State Bar functions.

If you had a word of advice for a new attorney, what would it be? Get involved!

GCCDB January 2018 Update

Richard Armond, GCCDB Communications Director
The Gwinnett County Criminal Defense Bar hosted Gwinnett County Solicitor's Office and all Gwinnett judges and their staffs for our Toyraiser event on December 12, 2017. This event is an annual tradition and was held at the historic courthouse on the Lawrenceville square. Attendees were very generous in their donations of toys to children at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta -- Egleston Hospital.
Upcoming Events

Friday, February 2, 2018 from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm - The Gwinnett County Criminal Defense Bar (GCCDB) monthly meeting will be held as usual on the first Friday of the month. Details regarding the presenter and topic will be updated soon. Lunch will be provided and will be $5 for members and $15 for non-members. One hour of general CLE credit will be available pending approval.
Thursday, March 15 and Friday, March 16, 2018 - The Gwinnett County Criminal Defense Bar (GCCDB) will be hosting its annual CLE covering topics for the criminal defense practitioner. An update to the CLE schedule will be posted when it is finalized.
Please save the dates on your calendar for these two events.

Join the Section
Interested in joining the section or want to RSVP for a monthly meeting?  Please contact section President Constancia Carter at constancia@cuadrapatel.com.
EPPS UPDATE: 2018 Meetings; Volunteer - Pro Bono Clinic

The Estate Planning & Probate Section (EPPS) will meet on the following dates (location and guest speaker TBD):
March 13, 2018
May 8, 2018
Note that you do not have to be a member of the section to attend the meetings (please feel free to forward the message or bring a friend!).  If you are interested in joining the section, or simply being added to the section email list, please email Melody Glouton or Lauren Bryant.
Probate Court Pro Bono Clinic (Monthly)

Who should volunteer: Attorneys with probate and/or guardianship experience (need not be an expert, but some experience is required to assist attendees)

What: Provide guidance to pro se petitioners with their filings in probate court

Where: Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center

When: Third Thursday of each month from 1:30pm - 4:30pm 

Why: To help our citizens and the Probate Court in processing petitions more efficiently and effectively

How: Please contact Elizabeth Strupe with questions or to sign up for the Probate Court Pro Bono Clinic


Probate Clinic
Robert Duda (November)
John M. Miles
Jammie Taire
John L. Welsh II

Consumer Law Clinic

Michael Arndt
Chung Hun Lee
Gwinnett Magistrate Court Happenings

The beginning of each New Year is the best time to reflect on both the accomplishments and misfires of the previous year. Last year, the Gwinnett County Magistrate Court handled 63,817 matters in its Civil and Garnishment Divisions and 24,063 matters in its Criminal and Family Violence Divisions (not including Judicial Assistance provided to other Courts). Along the way, we continued to work on strategies to improve efficiency, consistency, and, most importantly, access to quality justice. Specifically, we updated a number of forms, made some calendaring changes, continued to work on language access improvements, provided on-line access to our criminal calendars through the Clerk of Court website, improved internal processes and worked on ways to become less "paper-heavy" and more stream-lined. We are excited about continuing these improvements in 2018.

Another area we focused on last year was education and outreach. Not only does the Magistrate Court have twice yearly internal training, but a number of our Magistrate Judges were sought out and invited to teach and speak on a variety of legal topics:

Judge Deborah Fluker spoke at the GABWA Family Law Seminar at the State Bar.

Judge Ken Parker taught a Webinar for ICJE on the Basics of Bankruptcy Law for Magistrates.

Judge Kristina Blum was asked to speak on a panel at the National Association of Women Judge's Conference in October on the topic of "The Judicial Case for Recognizing and Eliminating Implicit Bias" with Chef Justice Leah Sears (Retired), Judge Bernice Donald (Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals), Judge Leah May (USDC, Northern District) and Judge Bobbi Tillmon (Superior Court of California). In addition, Judge Blum taught several courses for ICJE including Self-Represented Litigant Strategies, Extradition and Writs of Possession; she also spoke at the State Court Administrator Conference, the State Magistrate Court Clerk's Conference, and Georgia State University College of Law. 

Judge Ruth McMullin served as the Team Leader for a team of faculty instructing rising third year law students at Emory Law School for their annual Kessler-Eidson Program for Trial Techniques. In addition, Judge McMullin served as faculty for the summer Master of Comparative Law Program between Emory Law and Beijing Normal University, where she taught Intro to Criminal Law and Trial Advocacy to visiting students from China. In August, Judge McMullin was the Keynote Speaker for the Vietnamese American Bar Association of Georgia Scholarship Banquet and, in September, Judge McMullin was invited by the National Institute of Trial Advocacy and National Center for State Courts to teach Advanced Trial Advocacy to prosecutors in Port of Spain, Trinidad. 

Judge Kim Gallant spoke at a Gwinnett ADR "Mag Meal" and taught several classes at the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Training Academy, as well as assisted Judge McMullin with her trial advocacy students at Emory Law School.

Judge Phyllis Russell is an Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice at Kennesaw State University.

Judge Jim Argo taught a Webinar for ICJE on Child Abandonment Warrants.

Judge Robert Mitchum participated in a judicial panel discussion on the topic of Landlord/Tenant Issues at the Atlanta Apartment Association Symposium. In addition, Judge Mitchum taught Basic Civil Procedures for New Magistrates and Post-Judgment Collection for ICJE, as well as a number of Courtroom Demeanor and Basic Jailer courses for the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department.

Judge Robert Walker participated in a local government panel for GLANCE Gwinnett. 

It also remains important to us to stay connected to Magistrate Courts across the State to trade ideas and information. In June, I completed my term as President of the Council of Magistrate Court Judges and currently serve as Immediate Past President and as a member of the Magistrate Court Training Council. Judges Brogdon and Cantrell were re-elected to serve as District 9 Representatives to the Council of Magistrate Court Judges. 

As always, thank you to the Bar for all you do. We welcome any suggestions you may have on ways we can improve. Happy New Year!

Kristina Hammer Blum
Chief Magistrate
Gwinnett County Magistrate Court
746 Pleasant Hill Road
Lilburn, Georgia 30047

Sued for legal-malpractice... 
now what?

As published by The Daily Report- ALM Media

Receiving a legal-malpractice claim threatening potential litigation can be scary. While many attorneys take steps to avoid such claims, few have a plan for what to do after they receive one. Reviewing any applicable legal-malpractice policy is a good place to start to identify an attorney's obligations and formulate a plan, but there are additional considerations to address.
Sometimes, attorneys respond to claims in ways that complicate the situation and make it hard to avoid litigation. Indeed, an early misstep may increase risks of significant exposure and defense costs. Here are four points that attorneys can address early when faced with a legal-malpractice claim to avoid making a bad situation worse.
Not Every Mistake Is Malpractice
An attorney's duty to keep clients informed generally includes a duty to self-report material mistakes impacting the representation. However, there is a fine line between reporting "just the facts" and admitting legal malpractice. The former may help meet an ethical obligation, while the latter may lead to a malpractice claim.
Attorneys who fail to timely report material mistakes may face significant risks, including the potential tolling of the statute of limitations, possible exposure to a conflict of interest claim (based on the conflict between the client's interests and the attorney's interests), and in some cases, bar grievances. Further, concealment of a material mistake from a client may only give a client and malpractice counsel more incentive to file suit.
On the other hand, there may be serious consequences for attorneys admitting legal malpractice when malpractice has not occurred. Obviously, such admissions can make defending the lawsuit on the issue of liability very difficult. Less obvious is that an admission can constitute a violation of the "no admissions" clause of the typical legal-malpractice insurance policy, negating insurance coverage.
Indeed, as a matter of law, a mistake made in an attorney-client relationship does not equal liability for legal malpractice. Data confirm that many legal-malpractice claims are without merit. Elements of duty and causation, among others, impose a significant burden on a plaintiff to prove much more than just the existence of a mistake. However, an attorney who tells a client that a mistake constituted malpractice may create liability where none otherwise existed.
In practice, it is prudent for attorneys to timely report any material adverse development in a representation to the impacted client, also disclosing whether the development arises out of the attorney's action (or inaction). An attorney can advise that there has been a mistake, but stop short of conceding any malpractice. Because the line is so fine, attorneys may also consider consulting other counsel before reporting to the client. An objective view from a disinterested attorney can save a lot of defense costs and exposure.

A Claim May Not Lead To A Lawsuit
Attorneys can try not to overreact to a client asserting a claim. A client expressing dissatisfaction with a representation or threatening a suit does not mean that such a suit will happen. Indeed, clients may threaten a claim because they are unhappy with a result or want to avoid paying a bill. Neither scenario necessarily supports a viable legal-malpractice lawsuit.
Along with a heavy legal burden, financial and other pressures may also prevent a client from filing suit. Some states, like Georgia, require expert testimony, including an affidavit from an expert, prior to filing a legal-malpractice complaint. Therefore, early on, a plaintiff must present proof of some negligent act or omission and must incur expert fees upfront.
As a result, it is prudent for attorneys receiving a claim to maintain a level head in assessing the strength of the claim and the likelihood that it will lead to litigation.  Outside counsel can assist with this analysis.
Ignorance Is Not Bliss
At the other end of the spectrum, ignoring a legal-malpractice claim will not make it go away. While some attorneys overreact to a potential claim, others ignore a claim in hopes that the client's mind will change. This strategy is rarely effective.
Ignoring a claim may also put the attorney's legal-malpractice coverage at risk, particularly if the policy requires notice of claims or potential claims. Malpractice policies often require insureds to provide notice of any circumstance that might give rise to a claim. Even if a client has not yet initiated litigation, the threat of a claim may warrant reporting. Further, many policies provide coverage based on when a claim is reported to the insurer. When the attorney provides notice may control whether the claim falls within a policy's effective dates. This may be significant where there has been a lapse in coverage or where multiple policies could apply.
Any Resolution May Require Insurer Consent
Attorneys can consider early settlement opportunities for a malpractice claim prior to the filing of a lawsuit, especially if the amount required to settle is de minimis compared to the costs and exposure of the claim. However, the typical legal-malpractice insurance policy prohibits an attorney from making a settlement offer without the insurance company's consent.
If the applicable policy contains such language, efforts to settle a malpractice claim may need to be coordinated with the attorney's insurance company.  The risks of failing to do so are significant and could leave an attorney without coverage for the claim.
A malpractice claim is a negative situation but does not need to turn into a nightmare. An attorney receiving a malpractice claim can soften the blow by facing the situation promptly and considering the issues above.

By: Shari L. Klevens

D +1 202 496 7612   |   US Internal 47612
Bio   |   
Assistants: Jill L. Cropper +1 202 496 7592 | Vanessa Mussenden +1 404 527 4596

Dentons US LLP

Dentons is the world's largest law firm, delivering quality and value to clients around the globe. Dentons is a leader on the Acritas Global Elite Brand Index, a BTI Client Service 30 Award winner and recognized by prominent business and legal publications for its innovations in client service, including founding Nextlaw Labs and the Nextlaw Global Referral Network. Dentons' polycentric approach and world-class talent challenge the status quo to advance client interests in the communities in which we live and work. 
2017 Child Support Guidelines Training and CLE

The Georgia Commission on Child Support is offering training sessions to judges, judicial staff, attorneys and legal staff, and Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) agents and attorneys at various locations throughout the state.  The training events are offered between November 2017 and May 2018.  Generally, three topics are covered at these events: the Online Child Support Calculator, the Child Support Guidelines, and the Income Deduction process.  The training has been approved for three CLE hours for attorneys.  

The guidelines training will focus on legislative changes to the statute (O.C.G.A. ยง 19-6-15) that took effect on July 1, 2017.  The calculator training is offered on the Online Child Support Calculator only.  The Income Deduction Order (IDO) training will focus on the process in private cases.  There is no cost to attend the training.  Attorneys will be responsible for payment of their own CLE credits directly to the Georgia Bar Association.  You must register to attend and ensure available seating.
Click here to register and select the date and location that works for your schedule.

Elaine Johnson, Executive Program Manager, Child Support Commission
Communications, Children, Families and the Courts Division
Judicial Council/Administrative Office of the Courts
404-463-6383 (office)
404-210-5896 (work cell)
Articles and Updates Welcome!

If you would like to contribute to the GCBA Monthly Newsletter,   e-mail submissions by the 5th of each month to Editor  Danielle Britt Mays.

Visit our Facebook Page and our Website to stay updated until our next newsletter.