The South Carolina Bar – CLE Division is pleased to present, noted North Carolina attorney Jim Blackburn, who will provide you with two hours of CLE including full year of ethics credit and substance abuse/mental health requirements.
The program is a detailed and personal study of ethics, professionalism, and the impact of mental health issues on lawyers, as told by someone who was very successful in the practice of law, both in government and private practice before getting himself into serious legal and ethical difficulties, losing his law license, serving time in prison, and spending years in private counseling and psycho-therapy. This program is Jim Blackburn’s personal study of the juxtaposition of the Rules of Professional Conduct with the stresses of law practice and the impact of mental health issues on a lawyer’s life, with an emphasis on Jim’s rise to the top through his prosecution of the infamous Jeffrey MacDonald triple murder case, his subsequent spiral downward to the almost unimaginable consequences of his wrongdoing, what led to those mistakes, and how lawyers today can keep themselves from similar situations.
The program studies the requirements that a lawyer represent clients to the best of his or her ability, communicating regularly and fully, the necessity of maintaining complete honesty with the client at all times, maintaining immaculate financial records and safe-guarding client funds, being zealous and passionate in that representation, maintaining the dignity and high standards of the legal profession, and doing all of this on a timely basis.
Lawyers are in a high stress environment, and this program presents a detailed discussion of the mental illness of depression, how it can come about and how it can affect lawyers and their performances and conduct, what should a lawyer do if he or she is suffering from depression, what are the symptoms specific to lawyers, how other lawyers should react to someone suffering from depression and finally how to get better.
After the program, join Jim and your fellow colleagues for a reception. With you registration, join other seminar attendees for the show, Karla Bonoff, at the Newberry Opera House. You may purchase tickets with your registration! Register early as there are a limited number of tickets available for the show!
About the Speaker
A native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Jim Blackburn graduated from Wake Forest University with a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Political Science and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of North Carolina Law School at Chapel Hill.
Jim became an Assistant Attorney General with the North Carolina Justice Department under Attorney General Robert Morgan, becoming an advisor to multiple state agencies and arguing criminal appeals for the State in both the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court as well as arguing federal constitutional cases in various federal courts across North Carolina.
In 1974, Jim became the Director of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division and a Special Deputy Attorney General until 1976 when he joined the office’s Special Prosecution Division, handling criminal cases across North Carolina.
In the fall of 1977, Jim became the First Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, which represents forty-four of North Carolina’s counties from Raleigh to the coast. For four years he prosecuted federal criminal cases in Raleigh, Fayetteville, New Bern and Wilmington. In 1979, he was the lead prosecutor in the triple murder case of former Green Beret Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald.
In the spring of 1980, Jim was appointed United States Attorney and remained in that position until late September, 1980, when he resigned to enter private law practice in Raleigh. Throughout the 1980’s and through 1992, Jim was a prominent North Carolina attorney, handling both criminal and civil matters.
In 1993, Jim left the practice of law. Although appearing to be at the top of his profession based on all standard measures of success, inwardly, he suffered from the pressures that often come with that success. A drive to win at any cost, a strong desire to be all things to all people and an underlying depression took their toll, ending his legal career suddenly and spectacularly when a number of ethical misdeeds were discovered.
Jim’s subsequent surrender of his law license, guilty pleas to state charges, and a three and one-half stint in state prison were well publicized in the media. He was diagnosed with a major depressive disorder and was placed under a psychiatrist’s care for over three years. Upon his release from prison, Jim began to slowly rebuild his life.
Jim started by waiting tables for tips at the very restaurant in Raleigh where he had spent many hours as a paying customer and eventually was hired by then State Treasurer Harlan Boyles to serve as the Assistant to the Director of the State’s Teacher and State Employee’s Retirement System.
In 2000, Jim wrote and published a book about his difficulties, and that Book entitled Flame-out: From Prosecuting Jeffrey McDonald to Serving Time to Serving Tables. Just recently, the book entered its fourth printing, with a new Afterword that discusses what Jim has experienced and learned during the last years.
Starting out as a guest speaker for the North Carolina Bar Association on the subject of “Quality of Life”, Jim has continued as a motivational speaker across several states and now has his own business “Jim Blackburn Seminars, LLC”, which provides seminars on ethics, professionalism, and mental health to several professions in different states as diverse as New Mexico, Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and South and North Carolina.
3:00 p.m. Registration
3:30 p.m. The Unforgiving Minute – Ethics & Professionalism
5:30 p.m. Reception for program attendees and guests
8:00 p.m. Karla Bonoff, Newberry Opera House
About the Newberry Firehouse Conference Center
In 1758, the larger districts of northern South Carolina were broken up into smaller counties. Newberry was one of six counties that made up the Ninety Six District.
Since that time, there has been debate over how Newberry received its name. Possible options are that it was named for a Revolutionary War officer or for a berry that was found in the area. The debate has continued for over 150 years. One of the more popular suggestions comes from John Belton O'Neall who said in his Annals of Newberry that the country there was "pretty as a new berry." The debate continues over the name, but there is a unanimous concession that the county of Newberry is one of the most beautiful parts of the South Carolina Upcountry.
Through the years, many beautiful landmarks have been built in our town, including the Old Fire Station. In 1883, the Newberry Fire Department was formed by the town and was housed in the Opera House. A few years later, in the early 1900's, a two story fire house was built, right next door to the Opera House, giving the Fire Department of Newberry a place of their own. Eventually, in the 1930's it was expanded and remodeled in the style of Art Deco by the Works Progress Administration, though it was decommissioned in the 1980's.
In 2005, the Old Fire Station was renovated into a state of the art conference center for businesses and social events.