Volunteer Opportunity: Lawyer on the Line – NCBA Paralegal Program

By Rachel Royal and Annette Phelps

The NCBA Paralegal Division, particularly Pro Bono Co-Chair, Annette Phelps, has been working on a project called Lawyer on the Line – Paralegal Program for quite some time, and it is finally ready to be launched! The program is a partnership between Legal Aid of North Carolina and the NCBA Paralegal Division.

While the majority of the work on the project will be handled by paralegals, attorney supervision is still required, because, as you are aware, paralegals cannot give legal advice to clients. To give you an idea of the limited workload required by attorneys within this project, attorneys will be permitted to supervise up to ten (10) advice and/or brief service cases at a time, but they will have the option of supervising fewer, depending on their workload capacity. Additionally, all attorney participation qualifies for Pro Bono hours encouraged by the North Carolina State Bar.

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October Tech Tip: Maximize Productivity With Google Docs Voice-Typing Feature

By Alicia Mitchell-Mercer

Looking for a way to increase productivity in the creation of correspondence and legal documents? There is now a way to dictate correspondence, pleadings, etc. using the new-ish voice-to-text feature in Google Docs. If you text (sure you do) and use the Google voice-to-text function, it works similarly, but this time it’s on the Google Docs platform (Google’s version of MS Office).

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Paralegal Spotlight with Morag Polaski

Morag Polaski’s hobbies include involvement with the 4H Horse Club.

Q: Name, Position Title and/or major duties:

A: Morag Polaski, freelance paralegal

Q: Firm or Corporation/Location:

A: Just A Paralegal Virtual Services LLC

Q: Brief background of education, certification, etc.?

A: A paralegal certificate from Old Dominion University, a Bachelor of Science in History from Excelsior College, a Master of Liberal Studies in Social Science from Fort Hays State University, NALA CP certification, NALA ACP Certification in Child Custody, Support & Visitation; Social Security Disability; and Discovery, NCCP.

Q: What’s one thing you’d like to see the NCBA PD do/accomplish in the short term for its membership?

A: Encourage more freelancers

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The All-Encompassing Secretary of State’s Office

By Mollie Schwam

The Secretary of State’s (SoS) Office does it all. From offering helpful materials on starting a business in NC, database to file securities, to storing advance healthcare directives online, the NC SoS’s job is all encompassing and vital to all NC businesses.

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Paralegal Call to Action: Volunteer With Disaster Legal Services or FEMA Recovery Centers, and Clothing Drive Continues

The North Carolina Bar Association Paralegal Division is participating in various ways to help the victims of Hurricane Florence.  In addition to the Professional Clothing Drive, the Division is excited to announce two additional volunteer opportunities.

Division members are invited to participate in the North Carolina Disaster Legal Services hotline as phone intake volunteers and/or to help with the FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers, providing information, resources and referrals only (volunteers do not provide legal advice or counsel). This is a fantastic opportunity for paralegals. Links with more information and to sign-up are below:

  • Disaster Legal Services Hotline, phone intake: Volunteer HERE
  • FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers, information and resource tables: Volunteer HERE

The Division is also continuing its professional clothing drive. The drive’s goal is to assist paralegals, legal assistants, legal support staff, court staff and attorneys get back on their feet as they return to work, hopefully to provide at least one outfit to replace attire lost due to hurricane damage or flooding. The Division will be accepting donations of clean, gently worn or new items, including:

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New Blog Series: Paralegal Spotlight and Paralegal Perspectives

By Mollie Schwam and Alicia Mitchell-Mercer

Greetings from your Communications Committee Co-Chairs, Mollie Schwam and Alicia Mitchell-Mercer. We want to introduce ourselves and provide an update regarding some exciting developments with regards to the Division blog. To promote the Division and its members, we will be adding two new blog series! First, we will be profiling one member of the Division each month in our first new blog series entitled Paralegal Spotlight. Second, we look forward to receiving member submissions regarding a variety of different topics for our second new blog series entitled Paralegal Perspectives. We hope to have both new blog series begin in October. Read more below.

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Welcome to the 2018-2019 Bar Year!

By Leslie Pegram

Thank you for choosing to be a member of the Paralegal Division. I hope that you find your membership professionally satisfying and that you’ll take advantage of the many member benefits offered by the North Carolina Bar Association. I’m honored to be serving as chair this year alongside a diverse group of paralegals from across the state who are volunteering their time to serve as officers, council members, committee chairs and Section liaisons.

As we commence the 21st year of the Paralegal Division, first, I’d like to thank Immediate Past Chair Debbie Harris for her service last year. We faced several challenges last year as a Division, and she managed each with grace and professionalism. This year is another year of change. We will face all of them together and do our best to keep you informed and educated on the decisions made by the council.

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And in the blink of an eye, it’s over… 

By Debbie Harris

The 2017-2018 Bar year flew by, and the Paralegal Division accomplished many great things. On behalf of the Paralegal Division Council, we hope the following summary will make you proud to be one of more than 1,600 members across the state. Allow me to share some highlights from the year:

Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Paralegal Division

We celebrated our 20th Anniversary at our Paralegal Division Annual Meeting (reception and conference) May 3 and 4 in Pinehurst. THANK YOU to everyone who attended! We had a wonderful offering of CPE programs including General Sessions on “How to Assist Lawyers in Transition” and “Ethics and Professionalism for the Modern Paralegal.” Additionally, our breakout sessions included the “North Carolina Identity Theft Protection Act,” “Hot Topics with the Secretary of State,” “Updates to the Uniform Power of Attorney Act,” “What Would Lincoln Do” (which shared timeless ethics lessons preserved in historical documents), “Employment in the Age of Social Media,” “Care and Feeding of Court Personnel,” and many other great topics.

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The Memory Of a Loss and a Fierce Passion Drive Felicia Atkinson

Congratulations to Felicia Atkinson the 2018 NCBA Paralegal Division Student Scholarship Winner.  Felicia was recognized on May 4, 2018, at the Paralegal Division’s Annual Meeting at the Pinehurst Resort.  As part of the application process, applicants submitted an essay on the topic “The Factors Which Lead Me to Enroll in Paralegal School.” The Paralegal Division Student Scholarship provides an award of $500 in tuition paid directly to a North Carolina resident enrolled in a North Carolina-qualified paralegal studies program as defined by the North Carolina State Bar. You must be a student member of the NCBA Paralegal Division to be eligible for the scholarship.  Student membership in the NCBA Paralegal Division is FREE!

Please enjoy reading Felicia’s winning submission:

By Felicia Atkinson

It was a hot summer day in August and my youngest brother, twin sister, and I were playing dodge ball in the street. My mother came to the back door of the house and yelled for us to come inside. The three of us ran inside the house excited that perhaps Momma made fresh lemonade and strawberry shortcake. When we entered the kitchen, our summer favorites were on the table. Momma told us to sit down and eat in the kitchen instead of taking our treats back outside. Leticia, my identical twin sister, and I sat at our little wood table set, a present from the previous Christmas. Shawn, my youngest brother, jumped up and sat on Momma’s lap. Daddy was standing in the doorway to the kitchen and my favorite aunt, Momma Stell, was sitting next to Momma. Daddy said he had bad news to tell us. I looked at Momma and realized she had been crying. At that moment, Daddy told us our oldest brother, Alex, was killed last night.

Alex, my idol, was gone. Although I did not understand the concept of death at 7 years of age, I did understand that Alex, with the IQ of a genius, would not be starting Harvard Law School in three weeks.  The brother, who I always followed around the house and tried to imitate, would no longer call me “his little prodigy.” In my mind, this meant that I would not be going to law school.

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Paralegal Perspective: Working In the World of Craft Alcohol

By Mollie Schwam

I started working at Beer Law Center in September 2015 while I was in paralegal school at Meredith College. I was anxious to join the workforce and earn a paycheck. I knew nothing about beer and even less about the myriad laws surrounding the alcohol industry. After my first year working at Beer Law Center I grew somewhat comfortable using words like “TTB,” “specimen,” “unfortified wine,” “Brewers Notice,” “Basic Permit,” etc. The intricacies of alcohol law were not covered at Meredith College. For me it was trial and error until I understood the craft beverage lingo and procedures. And, it was not until I attended local and national beer conferences that I realized an innovative, powerful work force was behind the beer.

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