Event Calendar

Bleckley Inn, Anderson

Ethics, Professionalism, Mental Health Study and Litigation
Featuring Jim Blackburn
presented by the
South Carolina Bar-Continuing Legal Education Division

Live at the
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Bleckley Inn, Benson Room
151 East Church Street
Anderson, SC 29624


About the Seminar
Part I of this program qualifies for 3.0 MCLE credit hours, including up to 3.0 LEPR and 1.5 SA/MH credit hours.
Part II of this program qualifies for 3.0 MCLE credit hours.
Full Day qualifies for 6.0 MCLE credit hours, including up to 3.0 LEPR and 1.5 SA/MH credit hours.
The South Carolina Bar – CLE Division is pleased to present, noted North Carolina attorney Jim Blackburn, who will provide you with two half day presentations combined to offer six hours of CLE including full year of ethics credit and substance abuse/mental health requirements.
The morning session, which qualifies for 3.0 LEPR credit hours, including up to 1.5 SA/MH credit hours, 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.
The afternoon session is based upon lessons Jim’s learned when prosecuting the infamous triple murder case United States vs. Jeffrey MacDonald. MacDonald was convicted of the triple murder of his pregnant wife and two daughters in the summer of 1979 and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences. He remains in federal prison today and continues to fight against the government. Indeed, a federal court hearing in Wilmington, North Carolina took place in September 2102 in another attempt to gain a new trial. Because the case was so complex, involving so many witnesses and pieces of evidence and such contrasting story lines, it serves as a good basis for any presentation on trial work.
A trial is a story told to either a judge or jury. Actually, it is two competing stories, and the trial lawyer who tells the best one is most likely the one who will win. So despite the advances in technology now used for trials, the primary ingredient has to be the good telling of a story. This program will cover how to do that – how to prepare and deliver your case at trial, whether it be civil or criminal, plaintiff, prosecutor or defendant.


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.



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