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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Chichester Named 2019 Distinguished Paralegal

By Leslie Pegram

Congratulations to Lakisha Chichester who was awarded the 2019 Distinguished Paralegal Award on May 2, 2019 at the Paralegal Division Annual Meeting in Winston-Salem.

The Distinguished Paralegal Award is given to a Paralegal Division regular member who has actively participated in paralegal activities such as civic/community volunteering, paralegal leadership, paralegal education, and promotion of the paralegal profession. The award includes a membership to the NCBA Paralegal Division which now includes one section membership and 12 hours of On Demand CLE for the following year. Lakisha was recognized and presented with a plaque commemorating her receipt of the 2019 Distinguished Paralegal Award and will be recognized at the 2019 NCBA Annual Meeting Awards Dinner, Thursday, June 20 at the Biltmore House in Asheville.

Chichester is heavily involved in the paralegal professional community. She is a graduate of the Meredith College Paralegal Program, where she recently addressed the 2019 paralegal graduating class during its commencement ceremonies on May 14th. She is a North Carolina Certified Paralegal and earned her Advanced Certified Paralegal from NALA.

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Paralegal Spotlight On Rachel Royal

Q: Name, position title and/or major duties:

A. Rachel Royal, paralegal for the attorney who represents the Wilmington City Police and Fire Departments and the attorney who handles all litigation and employment claims for the city. Royal also performs research and prepares presentations for proposals to city council for amendments to city ordinances.

Q: Firm or corporation/location:

A: Wilmington, N.C. City Attorney’s Office.

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

A: Royal was homeschooled and graduated with a high school diploma in 2006. She attended Carteret Community College 2015-2017 and graduated with honors with an Associate Degree of Applied Science in Paralegal Technology. She also received the Paralegal Graduate of the Year Award upon graduation. During her time at Carteret Community College, she was the president of the National Society of Leadership and Success for one year and the fundraising co-chair for one year.

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When Should You Start Looking For a New Job?

By Nicole “Nikki” Green

Imagine having  your dream job, where your management and team are amazing, you feel valued as an employee, and the perks and compensation are in line with what you think you are worth. Life is good … then, POP, your bubble bursts. You are suddenly informed that your firm is going to be restructured or your attorney decides to leave and join another firm.  Now what?

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Tech Tip: Text Status Updates to Clients Using Your Email


By Alicia Mitchell-Mercer

Lack of communication is one of the most common complaints from clients. It is frequently the paralegal’s job to make sure clients are kept abreast of the latest developments in their cases. As the business world embraces various methods of communication, so must the legal field.

This idea was especially highlighted when I read a post on a legal forum about a paralegal who had mailed a notice of hearing to a client, but the client did not show up for the hearing. The paralegal was concerned that her supervising attorney was holding her responsible for the client’s no-show. She wanted opinions on whether it was really her responsibility or the client’s responsibility since she had sent the notice. She was also looking for ways to prevent this from happening again.

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So, You Think You Want To Freelance?

By Morag A. Polaski

The reactions I receive when I tell people that I am a freelance paralegal range from “that’s so cool” to “huh?” Many times, people don’t realize that paralegals can freelance.

I recently heard a student in a paralegal program say, “I want to be a freelance paralegal.  How do I do that?” The idea of freelancing can be very attractive — you get to be your own boss, you can wear jammies to work every day, and your schedule is very flexible.  There are, however, drawbacks to freelancing. There are no employer-sponsored benefits like medical insurance coverage or 401(k) plans. You essentially work alone and you have to go out and find attorneys that need your assistance.

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