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.

August Council Meeting Summary

The Paralegal Division kicked off its 21st year with a Council Member Retreat on August 10-11, 2018.  Activities included a new Council Member Orientation, a Social Outing at the Durham Bulls, followed by a productive Council Meeting and Strategic Planning Session. I’m excited to share that overall attendance for the Retreat increased from previous years, and we are very excited to have so many wonderful, engaged volunteer members.  The Council is composed of members from as far west as Franklin to as far east as New Bern, Wilmington and Southport with paralegals working in small and large firms, in-house and city/county government.

During the Strategic Planning Session, the Council discussed opportunities for increased member engagement, making sure the Division is aligned with the goals and direction of the Bar Association.  The Division and its Committees are actively working on membership engagement, planning continuing paralegal education webcasts and live programs and pro bono/community service.

Highlights from the Strategic Planning:

  1. Continuing Paralegal Education/Publications. The Division plans to continue offering timely and relevant CPE programs. We discussed ways to deliver programming in convenient and affordable options.  We hope to offer more webcasts and decrease our live programming to only the most attended live programs (NCCP Exam Review Course, IP Institute and the Annual Meeting).
  2. Membership. The Council is also planning to host member socials across the state.  Update:  Socials were held in Charlotte and Wilmington in October.
  3. Pro Bono/Community Service. The Division is gearing up for many Pro Bono and Community Service efforts this year. The Pro Bono Committee is putting the finishing touches on a partnership project with Legal Aid of North Carolina.  The Lawyer on the Line program provides paralegals the opportunity to research cases and review their finding with attorney volunteers over the course of three 20-minute discussions per case.  Currently, the Committee is looking for attorney and paralegal volunteers to participate in a pilot program focusing on Government Benefits, Bankruptcy and Landlord/Tenant issues.

October Council Meeting Summary

The Council held a one-hour teleconference call to provide updates on items discussed at the August meeting.  The Council discussed CPE programming, approved the updated scholarship documents, member socials, Hurricane Florence relief efforts and the blog.

Highlights from the meeting:

  1. Scholarship revamp for Members and Students. The Paralegal Division Member Scholarship is now the “Member Premier Pass Giveaway” awarding two CPE Premier Passes valued at $325.00, and is an exclusive NCBA member benefit providing unlimited CLE/CPE. Complete details, including benefits and terms and conditions, can be found at tinyurl.com/premierpass.  Click here to access the application.

The Paralegal Division Student Scholarship is now the “Student NCCP Review Course Student Scholarship” awarding two free registration to either the live Spring Review Course or the Fall video replay. You must be a student member of the NCBA Paralegal Division to be eligible.  Click here to download the scholarship.   

  1. Blog. I hope you have been enjoying the great content posted to the blog.  I’d like to thank Alicia Mercer-Mitchell and Mollie Schwam for their hard work and great content ideas.  I encourage you to consider participating on the blog.  Alicia and Mollie have two fantastic opportunities for you:

Paralegal Spotlight:  once-monthly blog to highlight a PD member to showcase their background, skills, and facilitate networking.  Sign up for Paralegal Spotlighthttps://www.signupgenius.com/go/70a0c44adac29abf49-paralegal

Paralegal Perspectives:  twice-monthly blog written by NCBA members. The topic can be any topic of your choice as long as it is related in some way to the paralegal profession. Sign up to submit a Paralegal Perspectives: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70a0c44adac29abf49-thesoapbox 

  1. Lawyer on the Line – Paralegal Program. Thanks to the hard work of Pro Bono Committee Co-Chairs, Annette Phelps and Rachel Royal, the Division has launched its Lawyer on the Line – Paralegal Program.  The program is a partnership between Legal Aid of North Carolina and the 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.  The Paralegal Division is excited to be involved in this project, as it allows paralegals to use their skills, experience, and education to give back to the community in ways they have not been permitted to previously.  To learn more and sign-up, follow this link: https://ncbarblog.com/volunteer-opportunity-lawyer-on-the-line-ncba-paralegal-program/
  1. Hurricane Florence Relief Efforts. The Division is participating in various ways to help the victims of Hurricane Florence.  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 also launched a 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.  Donations were received from across North Carolina and will be working to distribute donations over the next few months.  Email Division Chair, Leslie Pegram, lesliepegramnccp@gmail.com, for more information.