Introducing This Year’s Paralegal Division Leaders

As this bar year kicks off, the Paralegal Division Council wants to introduce the members that are serving in leadership roles this year. The Paralegal Division offers members the opportunity to play a role in shaping the direction of the division in a variety of ways, from serving as an officer, council member, committee chair or section liaison to planning CPEs, volunteering for a pro bono opportunity or contributing to the blog!

Please take a minute to get to know this year’s officers and be on the lookout for future posts introducing more members of the council.

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Working Hard For Our Members: Recapping the August Strategic Planning and Paralegal Division Council Meeting

Ever wonder what the Paralegal Division Council does? Do you want to be more involved? Are you interested in leadership opportunities within the division?

We hope so. The council wants to provide members a better understanding of the workings of the Paralegal Division.  For starters, the council is composed of a chair, vice chair, secretary, treasurer, council members (12 total in groups of 4, each serving a 3-year term), and committee chairs. The council meets approximately on a quarterly basis to discuss and vote on business matters of the division.  At the beginning of each bar year, council members gather for a Strategic Planning Meeting to discuss goals for the upcoming year.  We’d like to kick off the year by sharing some of our plans and goals for the year.  Below are the highlights:

  • Collect short bios/headshots of council members to introduce the council to our members.
  • Create a division-focused “e-Bar” type of update with committee updates, upcoming division events, volunteer opportunities, etc.
  • Make the division’s Orientation Manual available on the website so those who are interested in leadership opportunities can find out more about council duties and obligations.
  • Promote our committees with a solicitation to get involved, along with a link to the Committee Sign-Up Form.
  • Move the scholarship application period to January through March of each year in an effort to increase application submissions.
  • Reach out to the Law Practice Management Section to offer to be “boots on the ground” for new technology.
  • Promote the new NCBA Member App (iPhones and Androids). There are many valuable discounts available on the app (and not just things for work). There is more information about this on the NCBA website and  The Member App Code is memapp.
  • Increase networking opportunities to enhance the membership experience.
  • Change the Distinguished Paralegal nomination period to October through January.
  • Revive the Pro Bono Award with the winner(s) will be announced at our May CPE. The application will be revamped to allow for a group winner, instead of being limited to an individual winner.
  • Announce and recognize all of our award winners (Distinguished Paralegal, Student Scholarship Application, Member Scholarship Application and Pro Bono) at the beginning of the General Session at the May CPE. This way lunch can be used for the Annual Meeting and other announcements.
  • Create new essay topics for each of the Student and Member Scholarships.
  • Develop new topics for Webinars/Webcasts.
  • Research pro bono project opportunities.
  • Determine the location and date for the 2019 Annual Meeting (we are still under contract with Pinehurst for 2018).

Wow!  It is a lot of items, and you may ask how it all gets done. All of the above is accomplished by a dedicated group of paralegal volunteers and we would love for more members to come aboard and make this another great year!  Please contact Debbie Harris with any questions.

Paralegal Memories:  My Favorite Class

By Kimberly Johnson

Legal Research and Writing was my favorite (required) class at Midlands Technical College.

This Palmetto State institution is well-known for its paralegal program. That’s one reason why I decided to attend and graduate from it. Plus, I wanted to know how my journalism background would stack up in this particular field of study.

Legal Research and Writing was my favorite class.

Why? Quite simply, I enjoy writing, period. My high school newspaper, The Viking, started the ball rolling. It picked up full steam into a full time staff position at a small newspaper after graduating from college. At the Newberry Observer and Florence Morning News, I authored feature articles about a renovated opera house, a local high school basketball team, a Teacher of the Year award and a couple of local elections. Switching gears, I entered the world of technical writing. I explain it this way–I wrote training manuals for accounting software company.

Legal Research and Writing was my favorite class.

Why? I learned the IRAC method (Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion).  I learned about Westlaw and LexisNexis. I learned about researching property deeds and titles. I learned how to locate facts and figures using old and new school techniques.

Legal Research and Writing was my favorite course.

Why?  This class greatly contributed to my legal footprint. The instruction and training gave me the confidence when I tackled research projects and written assignments. The homework and long hours in the library prepared me for the “burning the midnight oil” sessions at work.

As I look back at my education, training and work experiences, I realize that Legal Research and Writing is still my favorite course.


The Chair’s Comments: Big Things On This Year’s Agenda

By Debbie Harris

First of all, I would like to say thank you for allowing me to serve as your Chair for 2017-2018. I am truly humbled by the honor. It is hard to believe how fast the past three years have flown by since I took over as treasurer for the Division. It seems like just yesterday that I sat in nervous excitement, wide-eyed and full of wonder in my first retreat/council meeting in 2012 at the North Carolina Zoo. Several years have passed, but I still sit wide-eyed and full of wonder at the amount of talent, intelligence, and experience that sits around me at our council meetings. We are truly fortunate to have such a hard-working, engaged group of professionals in our Division.

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From the Outgoing Chair: A Heartfelt Thanks For a Year Of Giving and Growing

By Annette Phelps

It seems like it was only a month ago when I submitted my first blog as your Paralegal Division Chair.  It has been a great year for the division with a lot of new and exciting changes, challenges, and proud moments.

The year started off with my focus on how to change the internal structure of the Paralegal Division to be completely in touch with what all the sections and other divisions are involved with and how to disseminate all that information to the council and members.  A new Section Liaison Committee Chair was appointed to breathe life back into a committee that was struggling for participation.  All section liaisons are now invited to participate in all council meetings so that they have a first-hand experience of everything our division is doing.  They can then report back to each section and division for which they are a liaison, and report back to our division what opportunities are available by way of pro bono work, technology, education, and many opportunities. There are still section liaisons spots available and we welcome anyone interested in joining a section and becoming a liaison to contact us.  The networking that comes from being a section liaison is priceless.

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Volunteer Opportunity: CPE Webcast Series Planner

Are you looking to become more involved with the Paralegal Division?  Do you take advantage of our free-for-members one-hour monthly CPE webcasts? If so, the CPE Committee is looking for an eager paralegal to serve as the NCBA Paralegal Division Webcast Series planner for the 2017-18 year. The webcast series will run from August through April. The planner will find speakers for the monthly one-hour sessions. This is an excellent opportunity to work with the Paralegal Division as well as network and engage with attorneys, paralegals, and others providing legal support within various areas of law.

If you would like more information, or if you are ready to volunteer, please contact Paralegal Division Chair Debbie Harris.



Paralegal School Memories

By Kimberly M. Johnson

Do you remember your property law instructor? I do.  He was an old school kinda guy who believed each of his paralegal students should know everything about contracts and title research. Our dedication (and grades) were tested each week when he gave us projects to complete at the local courthouse. Mind you, I had a part-time job and other classes. Hmmph. What made him think that his class was the only one?   Let’s just say, I put a little more effort in reading a contract after taking his class.

For some of us, paralegal school was a natural extension after high school.  For some more of us, it was the first door we opened as we  marched into a second career.  For me, it was a step that allowed me to expand my interviewing, writing and researching skills that I used as a staff writer for a daily newspaper. After completing a graduate program,  I applied and was accepted to Midlands Technical College’s paralegal program in South Carolina.  I liked the fact that the paralegal program director is a local attorney and was a former newspaper reporter.

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Congratulations To Alicia Lewis, 2017 Distinguished Paralegal Award Recipient!

Each year the Paralegal Division seeks nominations for its annual Distinguished Paralegal Award. This award recognizes outstanding achievements, professionalism and contributions by a North Carolina paralegal both professionally and personally within  the recipient’s community. The award includes a membership to the NCBA Paralegal Division, including one section membership, for the following year. The recipient is presented with a plaque commemorating their receipt of the award at the Annual Meeting.

This year’s recipient is Alicia Lewis, a paralegal with Anderson Jones, PLLC in Raleigh. She was presented the award by her attorney and nominator, Todd Jones, during the 2017 Paralegal Division Annual Meeting at the Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, North Carolina on May 5, 2017.

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Congratulations To Kayla Cobler, 2017 Paralegal Student Member Scholarship Winner

The Paralegal Student Scholarship Essay topic this year was “Why Being a Paralegal Is Important To Me.”  The winning submission is courtesy of Kayla Cobler, a student in the paralegal program at Davidson County Community College. The student scholarship provides an award of $500 for tuition to a North Carolina resident enrolled in a North Carolina Qualified Paralegal Studies Program.

Why Being a Paralegal Is Important To Me

When deciding what my future might hold, I went back and forth between a teacher and a banker. I started my journey to becoming a banker at UNCG at the ripe age of 17. After a few business classes, I decided that banking wasn’t how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. I enjoyed the interaction with different people on a day to day basis, but I felt like something was missing. After spending a few days upset and down with myself, confused as to what my future was really going to hold, I started digging deep and thinking about what I could see myself doing every day for the rest of my life. I wanted to do something that impacted not only my personal goals, but also impacted society. It was important to me that I chose something that did not feel like a job, but something that felt more like a hobby. No one wants to go to work every day and dread the job they have. I have watched so many of my peers go to college and earn degrees for something they have no interest in or passion for. I don’t want to go through life everyday just living the motion. I want to feel that I am impacting society and bettering myself and everyone around me on a daily basis.

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Congratulations To Phebe Kirby, 2017 Paralegal Division Member Scholarship Winner


The Paralegal Member Scholarship Essay topic this year was “What are the benefits of being involved in paralegal associations?” The winning submission is courtesy of Paralegal Division Member Phebe Kirby. The Paralegal Division Member Scholarship provides an award of a Paralegal Division membership, a section membership, registration for the 2018 Paralegal Division Annual Meeting and Seminar, a CLE/CPE Passport to attend eligible programs tuition free, and up to $100 travel expense reimbursement (total value of approximately $800).

What are the benefits of being involved in paralegal associations?

I have been a paralegal for over five years now and I must say that I do love my job. However, a few months ago, I was struggling with two estate files, and it was beginning to cause me a lot of undue stress. Normally, I am able to leave at five and I don’t have an issue with working overtime or bringing my work home with me. But with these two estates files, I was pondering my dilemma at home, thinking about the issues constantly and talking about it to my husband until he frankly was bored. I am not sure why I struggled so much. We don’t do estates in my office, and I let the whole situation become overwhelming to the point that I was not sure what to do.

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