Compassion in the Legal Profession: A Tale of Hope at Christmas

By Alicia Mitchell-Mercer

Few of us work in an area of law where calls to our offices are initiated by clients because something wonderful happened. For most legal professionals, that initial phone call from a potential client is literally an act of desperation. Their lives are currently in a state of chaos and they need someone to fix it. They need someone to understand why they are so angry or depressed. They need to feel heard and validated. Most legal clients are going through one of the most devastating and difficult periods of their lives. Perhaps there has been a failed marriage, they’ve been charged with a crime, a loved one has died, they have been injured, they are in the middle of litigation that could ruin them financially, they have been assaulted, or any number of other traumatic life events.

Have you ever felt like your firm seems to attract the most unhinged people that humanity has to offer? I know I have felt that way at times. As a legal professional it’s very easy to become jaded or desensitized to a client’s needs and concerns after years of dealing with their adversities. Sometimes they are unreasonable regarding their expectations. Sometimes they are just emotionally fragile. This does not mean that there is anything innately wrong with our clients – at least no more than the next human being. It just means that when we go through extremely stressful events, like a failed marriage, it can be difficult to process all of those emotions and make logical well-thought-out decisions.

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Trauma-Informed Care and the Legal Professional

By Alicia Mitchell-Mercer

On Friday, November 16, 2018, I attended the Mecklenburg Resilience Symposium: Building Hope for Tomorrow Through Action Today with a number of judges, medical providers, and mental health professionals. The topic of the Symposium was community Resilience or the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.

This was such a timely conference for the judicial system, which serves the needs of people affected by trauma everyday. The Symposium explained that Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone to help them persevere through difficult times.

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Apply For New Ways To Get Free CPE

By Debbie Harris

The NCBA Paralegal Division has changed the way it gives back to its members.

The Paralegal Division has replaced its Membership Scholarship with the “Member Premier Pass Giveaway,” and Premier Passes will be given away to two lucky Division members in a lottery-type drawing each year. This package is valued at $325.00, and is an exclusive NCBA member benefit providing you unlimited CLE/CPE including access to hundreds of On Demand programs throughout the Bar year (July 1 to June 30). Complete details, including benefits and terms and conditions, can be found here. As we are starting the process after the beginning of this Bar year, this year’s drawing will occur before December 31, which will give you six months to attend programming.

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Pause Before Adding Clients On Social Media

By Alicia Mitchell-Mercer
Increasingly, we’re seeing attorneys and paralegals connecting with clients on social media including LinkedIn and Facebook. When I ask why, I’m hearing that social media connections (e.g. Facebook) make the client feel like they are more than just a file. I think there’s also this belief that it’s an inconspicuous way to get your name out there and connect with their connections who may require legal services. From a marketing perspective, it may make sense to have a social media presence that includes the clients you serve, but is it a good idea?
Here are reasons to think carefully before sending or accepting a connection request:

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Chair’s Update: Checking In With the Paralegal Division Council

By Leslie Pegram

As we near the mid-point of the 2018-2019 Bar year, I’d like to share how to the Paralegal Division Council has been working for and on behalf of PD members.  We have a great group of volunteers serving as leaders on our many Committees and on the Council.  I’m grateful for each volunteer member that has made a commitment to share their energy and talents with the Division.  A lot of volunteer hours go into each program and event created for Division members.  I’d like to share a few highlights and updates from the Council’s meetings to date.

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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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