Fail-Safe Your Working Relationships

By Travis Bradberry

A new relationship—whether personal or professional—is a lot like buying a new car. Driving it off the lot is pure bliss. And like a car, when a relationship breaks down, it’s overwhelming. A trained eye knows when a car is in trouble. The same is true of relationships, and you can be your own mechanic.

Dr. John Gottman and his colleagues at the University of Washington discovered four clear indicators of relationship failure, dubbed “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” The Four Horsemen are so profound that their presence predicts the demise of a relationship with 93 percent accuracy.

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Work Experience: The Newest Option for NCCP Exam Applicants

By Alicia Mitchell-Mercer

This spring, the North Carolina Supreme Court approved amendments to The Plan for Certification of Paralegals, 27 N.C.A.C. 1G, Section .0100. The amendments eliminate the educational prerequisite for paralegal certification for applicants who satisfy work experience requirements. To be certified, applicants who satisfy the work experience requirements must pass the certification examination.

To read the official notice, see page 38 of the Summer 2020 edition of The North Carolina State Bar Journal.

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Excel Cheat Sheet – Tips and Tricks to Master Excel

By Yazmeen O. Gadalla

In order to excel in the workplace, one of the most essential tools to understand is Microsoft Excel. A spreadsheet program, Microsoft Excel is used for a variety of reasons, mainly to track data. For so many of us in the legal field, Excel is a program that we keep close.

Whether it is for tracking deadlines, calculating numerical amounts, or more, we tend to use this software on a daily basis.

Below are some common (and not so common) tricks for working in Excel.

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Social Media Discovery Requires a Plan (and Here’s One Below)

By Rhiannon Fionn-Bowman

In the time of COVID-19, Electronically Stored Information and efficient ways to retrieve it are important considerations in any discussion regarding litigation preparation, especially when it comes to discovery planning. However, keep in mind that social media content is easy to create, but can be difficult to use in litigation and you may have to explain the importance of this type of evidence to judges and juries.

A little planning will save you time and heartache when it comes to social media discovery. With one exception, before your law office seeks to obtain social media posts by a party or witnesses, you’ll want to create a customized plan of action. Your plan should consider the potential volume of the material, where it may be stored, any confidentiality or security concerns, and any other unique issues presented by the case. Moreover, it’s important your plan be both defensible and cost effective.

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Lawyers for Literacy: Become a Virtual Volunteer

By Tina Dadio 

The North Carolina Bar Foundation is working to provide North Carolina students with access to resources. Lawyers for Literacy is one of the best things that we can do right now to make a big difference in the lives of young students currently stuck at home and their parents.

If you or any of your colleagues are willing to help by making a recording of you reading one of our books (preferably a video recording), the staff at the North Carolina Bar Foundation can distribute this engaging content directly to teachers and families.

The use of a laptop, tablet or cellphone is acceptable. Please feel free to contact Paul Vaughan at for information about where to upload the video and the logistics of making the recording.

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Don’t Forget About Cyber Hygiene During Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

Alicia Chestler

Alexandria Murphy

This article was originally published in Corporate Counsel magazine and is republished with permission from Baker Donelson.

By Alicia L. Chestler, CIPP/US and Alexandria Murphy 

As organizations prepare for certain contingency work arrangements in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, companies must also focus attention on ensuring appropriate cyber hygiene. Companies are anticipating more individuals working remotely from the safety of their own homes to avoid contracting the virus and other companies are planning for potential quarantines and school closings. The flexibility of working remotely, however, involves real cybersecurity risks that companies should be aware of and work to mitigate in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. With increased remote work, there is increased risk of employees accessing data through unsecured and unsafe Wi-Fi networks, using personal devices to perform work, and not following general security protocols established by the company. As individuals are approved or otherwise authorized to work remotely, there must be a multi-departmental focus on maintaining proper controls. Management should be coordinating with the Human Resources (HR) and Information Technology (IT) departments to establish security controls and ensure employees are properly trained on those controls in the remote work context.

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Case Management Tips for Paralegals

By Misty Murray

The biggest issue for a lot of Paralegals today is case management. We’re overloaded and overwhelmed, and a lot of the time, we are either working with no case management software or outdated case management software loaded with bells and whistles we simply don’t use, don’t know how to use, and truly don’t need. When law firms do not have procedures in place for case management, it is up to the paralegal to develop the best solutions for his or her cases and manage all the files in their cases.

I coach a lot of paralegals on this very issue. I tell them not to give up, and together, we solve the file management issue. To their surprise, many of the solutions I show them involve using applications readily available to them on their office computers. The key is knowing the tools are there for you and learning how to use them. I’m going to give you my tips on how you can use software on your computer to be the most effective paralegal for any attorney and, more importantly, for your cases.

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Planning the Annual Meeting – A Look Behind the Scenes

By Leslie Pegram 

If you have ever planned an event or continuing education seminar, you know it takes a lot of time and resources. All Paralegal Division CPE planners are volunteers. They take time out of their already busy work days to send emails and hop on phone calls to discuss potential topics, locate speakers and work with Bar Center staff to get the meetings off the ground. While thinking of relevant and useful topics can be challenging, reaching out to attorneys, paralegals and other legal professionals to find potential speakers to ask if they are interested in speaking is even more challenging. All the while, you wait with fingers crossed, hoping that the speaker’s calendar is free on that date.

For live CPE programs, planners start six months out from the date, but for annual meetings, six months is the bare minimum, and it’s really more like 9 to 12 months. The Paralegal Division Council meets and tries to pick potential locations and dates a few years in advance. We then provide that information to the CLE department who work to secure the venue with our preferred dates. Unfortunately, there are times when location and/or date do not line up with the timing or location of previous years.

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Why Mediation Matters: A Step Toward Empowerment

By Salim Uqdah

Domination is potently feared by most people. The concept of an unfair exertion of power over a group or an individual by an entity is menacing because it can be arbitrary and unjust, and can make the recipient feel an overwhelming sense of helplessness. The beauty of the modern world is that we have the ability to decide how to live our lives. In the same way that the principle of manifest destiny was integral to the expansion of the United States, the freedom to make our fate with our own hands is crucial to achieving a positive sense of well-being. It is disheartening when a person can dominate you in a situation, but it is soul-crushing when a person perceives that a system is set up to have a power imbalance that harms them.

That is what I witnessed during my time at the courthouse. As a Judicial Assistant who worked in the Civil, Criminal, and Family Courts, I would see an assemblage of individuals who were dismayed with their experience within the judicial system. Some litigants’ reaction to a missed deadline or court date was a mixture of dread, frustration, and melancholia due to the belief that this was the only way to achieve their objectives. In my capacity as a court official, I could only provide procedure information and a soothing demeanor. I yearned to make a more meaningful impact.

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Nominations for 2020 Distinguished Paralegal Award are Now Open!

By Tina Dadio

The Paralegal Division of North Carolina Bar Association is currently seeking nominations for its 2020 Distinguished Paralegal Award. Please take this time to think about that colleague or professional contact who stands out in your mind as an exceptional paralegal both in the legal community and community in which the nominee lives. The nominee will be selected to receive the 2020 Distinguished Paralegal Award at the annual NCBA Paralegal Division meeting to be held on April 24, at the Holiday Inn Resort in Wrightsville Beach, NC. In addition, the Distinguished Paralegal will be acknowledged at the NCBA Annual Meeting Awards Ceremony taking place in Charlotte on June 25, 2020. This award recognizes the NCBA Paralegal Division member who exemplifies the best of our profession for their outstanding contributions both professionally and personally within the recipient’s community.

Please take a few moments to nominate a Paralegal Division member (or feel free to nominate yourself) and summarize the qualities and activities you believe qualify your nominee to receive this award.

Please click here to access the nomination application. Deadline for submissions of all nominations is Friday, April 10, 2020.