RALEIGH – The pro-business group North Carolina Chamber announced Monday that it has created a legal institute to review and propose changes to the state’s legal system and to provide “judicial advocacy and intervention” in court cases. The North Carolina Chamber Legal Institute will be led by Gary Salamido, vice president of government affairs at the N.C. Chamber.
“It is imperative that job creators be able to protect, in the state and federal courts, their policy and legislative wins,” said Lew Ebert, president and CEO of the N.C. Chamber. “Anti-growth and anti-business groups sometimes use the courts to derail job creation and retention. The business community must be prepared to engage in legal activities to protect job creation and retention. A predictable legal environment and legal system is critical to long-term, sustained economic growth.”
The announcement of the legal group’s formation follows the rise of the state in a recent ranking by the U.S. Chamber of state legal climates for business. The 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey put North Carolina at No. 7, a rise of 13 spots from the state’s ranking in 2012. A statement from the N.C. Chamber stated one of the goals of the new legal group was to “remain a top-tier state for business legal climate with an eye on becoming the best in the nation.”
The state group says that there is a “direct correlation between a state’s legal environment and legal system and the state’s economic competitiveness.” It was compiled by the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, which has long advocated for tort reform at the federal and state levels. The rankings were based on a survey of lawyers and other senior leaders at large companies and is focused on how they perceive the litigation environment in different states.
In the category rankings, North Carolina scored highest (fifth) for overall treatment of tort and contract litigation and lowest (18th) for judges’ competence. North Carolina (7th overall) and Virginia (11th overall) were the only states in the South to rank in the top 15; Delaware was No. 1 and West Virginia was last in the rankings.
“Three-quarters of the respondents in this survey report that a state’s litigation environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their companies such as where to locate or to do business,” the U.S. Chamber’s legal reform group said when it released the rankings.
The North Carolina Chamber Legal Institute may be new, but a group advocating on the other side of the litigation aisle, the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, has been around for half a century. The NCAJ describes its mission as “protecting people’s rights through community, education, and advocacy.”
Gavel image credit: Brian Turner via Flickr.