County attorney 'ready,' but not able to practice

Lee's lawyer awaits word from N.C. Bar
Nov. 13, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

After nearly a year on the job, Lee County Attorney Kerry Schmid is anxiously waiting for her license to practice law in North Carolina.

Schmid, who was most recently employed with Sarby County, Neb., was hired by the Lee County Board of Commissioners on Nov. 19, 2012, and submitted her N.C. law license application months ago. 

She's still waiting on a response from the N.C. Bar.

"They do this for everyone," Schmid said Tuesday. "The wait I have endured is the same for anyone who is trying to waive in. I have talked to several people, and they all say it takes about a year. It's not something you can force them to do more quickly. All my information is in. I am just waiting on them."

Schmid is licensed to work in Iowa and Nebraska, two states with similar jurisdictions to North Carolina. The North Carolina Board of Law Examiners can grant admission through comity and waive the North Carolina Bar Examination requirement if the applicant is from a similar jurisdiction. 

The application process does not begin until the bar determines all the materials are in place, said Lee County Manager John Crumpton. Once documents are submitted, there is typically a six-month waiting period, he said. Schmid's waiting period is over, and she is now simply waiting for the board to grant her an interview, Crumpton said.

"She began the filing process when she was hired, and her six month period ended in August," he said. "There were a couple of things the bar said they wanted, and she had to follow up on a few things, but everything is in place. Now she is waiting to hear when the interview will be scheduled."

Crumpton and Schmid both said the organization has not said when the interview would be scheduled.

"The bar won't say," Crumpton said. "They are on their schedule."

Working with Lee County Attorney Neil Yarborough, who was hired by the commissioners after the death of former attorney Dale Talbert, throughout the past year has been an enjoyable experience, Schmid said. Once her license is acquired, Schmid will succeed Yarborough as the county's attorney.

"I am very excited," she said. "It has been a good year to learn and become acclimated, but now I am ready to have that position."

In the interim, Schmid has served as the clerk to the county attorney's office and conducted research, drafted contracts and done "initial legwork" for Yarborough to approve and review. Schmid's annual salary is $88,000, and Yarborough is contracted as needed at $300 per hour, according to Crumpton.

"We are getting the services we need under the current arrangement," Crumpton wrote in an email. "Kerry has received received valuable training from one of the best county attorneys in the state. She is a great person and, I believe, will be a great attorney for Lee County."

Schmid, who lives in Sanford, said she's enjoyed the area and its proximity to so many places.

"I am excited about my job," she said. "… I am ready for the next step and to sit with the board during meetings."