North Carolina Bar Foundation Get-Together at Cape Fear Vineyard & Winery in Elizabethtown included, front from left, Bruce Huggins, Katherine Davis and Terry Garner, and, back, Tom Hull and Truett Canady.

Whenever new staff members have asked my advice in regard to working at the N.C. Bar Center, my response has always been the same:

Get out of the building and get to know the members of the North Carolina Bar Association. They’re wonderful people.

Last week I enjoyed the opportunity to practice what I preach when our director of legacy gifts, Tom Hull, invited me to tag along on a North Carolina Bar Foundation get-together at the Cape Fear Vineyard & Winery in Elizabethtown.

The event proved both informative and entertaining as members from the southeastern corner of our state shared their stories and learned about exciting changes taking place within the Association and the Foundation.

It was especially gratifying to get to know my tablemates: Senior Lawyers Division Chair Bruce Huggins and his daughter, Katherine Davis, both of whom practice in Lumberton; Truett Canady of St. Pauls; and Terry Garner who practiced for decades in Laurinburg before retiring to Sunset Beach.

Hull began with an excellent overview of the newly announced changes to the NCBA’s dues structure, which will now include 12 hours of On-Demand CLE and one NCBA Section membership with your annual NCBA dues.

He next elaborated on the vital work of the North Carolina Bar Foundation, which is fulfilling its mission of serving the greater good through numerous pro bono and public service programs and projects.

The fledgling NC Free Legal Answers program was of particular interest, and rightfully so. As an online pro bono assistance program, attorneys from across the state can provide free legal answers, as the title implies, to citizens from all 100 North Carolina counties.

Disaster Legal Services certainly resonated with these attorneys, who have witnessed firsthand the devastation brought forth in recent years by Hurricanes Matthew and Florence. It was easy to paint the picture of Wills for Heroes, which provides free estate planning documents for first responders, because similar pro bono clinics were held in Robeson County in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

Our guests also appreciated information about the scholarship program for children of slain or permanently disabled law enforcement officers. This too hit home, for it had only been a few months since a Lumberton police officer had been struck and killed while investigating an accident on Interstate 95.

The occasion also provided Huggins with an opportunity to discuss the upcoming spring meeting of the Senior Lawyers Division scheduled later this month in Pinehurst.

Above and beyond the exchange of important information, it was most rewarding to simply sit and listen to our members talk about their towns, their careers, the people they had met and the experiences each of them has enjoyed.

It was great to hear Davis brag on the benefits of Fastcase, the online legal research tool provided as a benefit for NCBA members. She and Canady both proclaimed that it alone was worth the price of membership.

Each attorney also shared wonderful stories about the general nature of their small-town practices. Davis explained that she could never picture herself handling the same type of matter day in and day out.

“My practice has been most varied and interesting,” Huggins added. “You never knew what was going to come in the door.”

Canady agreed.

“My law professors could have never made up the stuff that I’ve had to deal with!”

The important work of the North Carolina Bar Foundation is made possible through the support of the lawyers, judges, paralegals and law students comprising the membership of the North Carolina Bar Association. To learn more, visit www.ncbarfoundation.org