Part I: Night Falls Fast: Landmines on the Way to the Top & How to Avoid Them (Ethics, Professionalism and Mental Health Study)
8:30 a.m. Registration
8:50 a.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks
9:00 a.m. Night Falls Fast: An Ethical Tale of Building and Demolishing a Career, How and Why it Happened and First Steps Toward Survival.
10:30 a.m. Break
10:45 a.m. Ethics and Mental Health
12:15 p.m. Adjourn
Part II: Litigation
1:15 p.m. Registration
1:30 p.m. Learning About a New Case for the First Time- Becoming Passionate
2:00 p.m. Witness Preparation
2:30 p.m. Exhibits
3:00 p.m. Break
3:15 p.m. Telling the Story of Your Case
4:00 p.m. Preparing the Closing Argument
4:45 p.m. Adjourn
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.