Tech Tip: Save Hours Responding to Document Requests or Creating Exhibit Lists with This Simple Trick

By Alicia Mitchell-Mercer

The day I returned to the office from a 7-day vacation, there was a lot of work to catch up on. By 3:00 PM, I was feeling very accomplished. I had completed most urgent matters on my to-do list for that day. However, around 4:00 PM, an attorney walked into my office with an urgent assignment. The project was to take approximately 3,000 computer files (subfiles, zip files, all types of different file formats), give each file a description, and create an exhibit list for an upcoming arbitration. I was told our deadline was the next day at 5:00 PM. The documents had already been sent to printing.

There was a brief moment when I felt overwhelmed. I began calculating how long it would take to look at each of the 3000 files on the computer and create descriptions suitable for the exhibit list. If I did this manually, I would need to type 375 filenames per hour (or 6.25 file names per minute) to have it completed in 8 hours and that’s if I never took a break.

I could have panicked, but my mantra has always been to work smarter – not harder. With technology, there’s almost always a way to automate processes to make tedious projects less cumbersome. With a few mouse clicks here and there, I completed the project in a little over an hour and the final result was 82 pages of itemized exhibits, perfect to cut and paste into a formal exhibit list in time for tomorrow’s deadline with plenty of time to spare.

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Supreme Court Adopts Generous, Secured-Leave Policy To Assist Sleep-Deprived, New Parents

By Beth Scherer

On Thursday, the Supreme Court of North Carolina issued its latest amendments to the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure. The amendments impact word-count limitation applicable to appellate briefs and parental leave.

Rule 3.1 Supreme Court Briefs are Subject to Rule 28(j)’s Word Count Limitation

Historically, word-count limitations have not applied to appellate briefs filed in either direct or secondary appeals to the Supreme Court.  In January 2019, the Supreme Court overhauled Appellate Rule 3.1 to reflect a shift of appellate jurisdiction over a subset of Rule 3.1 juvenile appeals from the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court.  As noted here, I was surprised to learn during a March 2019 CLE that the Supreme Court was interpreting Appellate Rule 3.1(f) to implement a word-count limitation for Rule 3.1 briefs filed in the Supreme Court.  The September 2019 amendments now remove any doubt: Rule 3.1 briefs filed in either appellate court are subject to Appellate Rule 28(j)’s word-count limitation.

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The Paralegal Role in Disaster Legal Services

By Rachel Royal, NCCP

Looking Back
As we get settled into the new Bar year, the Paralegal Division is burrowing deep into project planning. One of those projects is its Pro Bono Committee’s endeavors to promote even more paralegal involvement in legal volunteering across the state. In the past year, the Paralegal Division has been very active in the pro bono world, including post-Florence Disaster Legal Services Hotlines, Disaster Recovery Centers, and FEMA Appeals Clinics. Additionally, we volunteered as notaries for clinics for Wills for Heroes, Driver’s License Restoration, and Durham Expunction and Restoration (D.E.A.R.). Some of our members served as Site Coordinators, Scoring Directors, and general volunteers for multiple High School Mock Trials, as well as the Middle School Mock Trials. Additionally, Immediate Past Chair, Leslie Pegram, initiated a Hurricane Florence Clothing Drive that has assisted multiple legal professionals and students who lost clothing in the hurricane. 

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The Chair’s Comments: New Year, Exciting Opportunities and Events Ahead

By Tina Dadio

It gives me great pleasure to serve as your 2019-2020 Paralegal Division Chair.   First, I want to say thank you for being a member of the Paralegal Division. I hope our exciting new member benefits will encourage you to get involved while having fun networking with your fellow members across the state. Over the next year, there are several goals I would like to accomplish.   Your membership provides you the opportunity for education through one of our CLE/CPE programs, networking at one of our social events, volunteering with one of our many pro bono programs , and that your experience encourages others to join our Division. Second, I hope our Division continues to see expansive growth and success, and that it will be an exciting year of opportunities and events for our members.

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Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act Changes the Adult Prosecution Age to 18

By Nathan Jarvis

Today in North Carolina, 16 and 17-year-olds are automatically prosecuted as an adult for criminal offenses. The Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, which is effective on December 1, 2019, will change the adult prosecution age to 18 years old to align with the current policies of all other States in the United States. This means that 16 and 17-year-olds will start being prosecuted in juvenile court instead of in adult court and a youth’s split-second decision will not automatically lead to adult punishment.

Who is Not Included?

“Raise the Age” will not apply to motor vehicle offenses defined by the Motor Vehicle Act. Defense attorneys should be aware that offenses such as unauthorized use of a motor vehicle or breaking and entering a motor vehicle may trigger this exclusion. Also, some juveniles will be excluded from this Act, such as: (1) married or emancipated juveniles; (2) those that have been transferred and convicted in superior court; and (3) those that have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, including motor vehicle offenses, in district or superior court.

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Medical Record Retrieval In the Modern Era: A Primer On HITECH

By Martin A. Ginsburg

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) of 2009 was a natural outgrowth of the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA was designed to protect personal information while facilitating the transfer of information between the “covered entities” to improve the continuity of care across the spectrum of providers.

An unfortunate consequence of ratcheting up protections under HIPAA for personal health information was to make it more difficult for patients to access their own records. With unauthorized disclosures so broadly defined, additional consequences of non-compliance included the threat of civil penalties levied by the courts and limits being placed on reimbursements and payments by the Federal government.

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Membership in the NCBA Paralegal Division Has Benefits

By Tina Dadio

The NCBA Paralegal Division is excited to announce the officers for the 2019-2020 NCBA bar year (July 1, 2019-June 30, 2020).

Tina Dadio, Paralegal Division Chair, Charlotte

Stephanie Durham-Rivera, Paralegal Division Vice Chair, Raleigh

Leslie Pegram, Paralegal Division Immediate Past Chair, Raleigh

Karen M. Rabenau, NCBA Board Liaison, attorney in Durham

Stephanie Elliott, Paralegal Division Secretary, Charlotte

Shawana Almendarez, Paralegal Division Treasurer, Kannapolis

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Gratitude: Chair Reflects On Her Year

By Leslie Pegram

Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. As my time as Paralegal Division Chair comes to an end, I want to express my gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to the success of the North Carolina Bar Association Paralegal Division.

I’m grateful to have been surrounded by so many amazing volunteers, leaders, mentors and friends. I am simply in awe of how our members share their time, talents and passions to the betterment of the community, profession, Division and Association. Our members are volunteers serving in various capacities including (but not limited to) Council Members, Committee Chairs, Section Liaisons, CPE planners, notaries/witnesses for Wills for Heroes, mentors, listserv participants and more. For each person who takes time to serve, thank you.

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Demystifying Paralegal Credentials for Lawyers and Paralegals


By Alicia Mitchell-Mercer

Recently, I overheard a discussion regarding whether attorneys understand the content of paralegal programs and the meaning of the post-nominal certification credentials you increasingly see behind paralegals’ names. One person responded that many fledgling paralegals don’t understand the difference between being certified and having a certificate, so how can attorneys be expected to understand these distinctions. While these issues may not seem pressing, they are important.

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Working In the Alcohol Industry

By Mollie Schwam

Before I started working at Beer Law Center I had no idea about the mountain of paperwork that selling alcohol entailed. I was not even aware about the particular process that businesses had to go through in order to sell alcohol. I tell people that I work with alcohol rules and regulations, because sprouting out a list of acronyms such as ABC, TTB, COLA, etc. does not make much sense to people who are not familiar with this type of work. Very few law firms are solely devoted to alcohol laws and regulations. In addition to the application process, I did not know that alcohol law can overlap and influence other areas of law.

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