CAI Files Suit for the Right to Offer Legal Services to Members
CAI filed suit on January 23, 2015, to overturn a state law that currently prevents us from providing legal advice and services to member companies.* We believe this state law is unconstitutional because it prevents free speech and free association by our members, and by our lawyers on their behalf.
We want to thank our members who helped us with our legislative efforts to change the law and with the filing of this suit.
Why does CAI want to provide legal services to its members?
- Our members ask us about 9,000 workplace-related questions each year.
- Question volume is increasing because of our “law thick” regulatory environment.
- Some of these member questions require legal advice to reach a full resolution. CAI now refers members to outside lawyers at their hourly rates.
- Too many members act without advice, or self-serve their own legal needs, rather than wait for or pay an attorney. This gap in service on basic legal matters serves no one well.
- Our goal is lower cost and better access to quality workplace legal services.
How will CAI provide legal services?
- CAI has two licensed lawyers on staff now. We will hire more North Carolina attorneys with experience who prefer to work in an open-ended, members-first model.
- CAI will provide telephone and consultative legal services to members for no additional fee. The dues revenue from new member attraction will finance the cost of more legal staff.
- We will transparently describe how and when a member’s legal issue becomes too time intensive and requires additional work at below-market rates, or, referral to outside counsel.
- We will have systems to ensure confidentiality, maintain the attorney/client privilege, avoid conflicts of interest, comply with all rules and properly notify members of their options.
- We will carry malpractice insurance just as we do today for professional errors/omissions.
What legal services will CAI provide?
- CAI will help members with their most common workplace law issues such as assessing risks, drafting termination agreements, answering EEOC charges and interpreting unclear regulations.
- CAI’s lawyers will actively educate members on legal topics and problem prevention.
- CAI does not plan to represent member clients in litigation matters or extremely specialized areas of workplace law. We expect to be an even more active referral partner to trusted outside law firms on these matters.
CAI believes we can provide a much needed service to North Carolina employers at a low cost through our membership association. It has worked well in other states. It will work well here.
Contact Bruce Clarke, JD, CAI’s CEO, with any questions at 919-713-5243.
*Capital Associated Industries, Inc. v. Roy Cooper, et al., Civil Action No. 1:15-CV-83, USDC, Middle District of NC. Our Board of Directors voted to file this lawsuit after several years of working to change the law legislatively and after discussions with lawmakers, lawyer groups and the NC State Bar. We believe that most lawyers will support our purpose, but acknowledge some are concerned about perceived competition from nonprofit corporations if the law is changed.