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.

But, first to start off our Paralegal Spotlight series…

The Paralegal Spotlight Falls on Your Communications Committee Co-Chairs

Communications Committee Co-Chair Mollie Schwam

 

Name, position and major duties: Mollie Schwam, NCCP, is a civil paralegal at Matheson & Associates PLLC and Beer Law Center. Schwam mostly specializes in alcohol regulation and works closely with breweries, distilleries, wineries, and alcohol retailers to get the appropriate federal and state permits. She also helps with federal trademark work and business formation for clients in NC and across the country.

Firm or Corporation/Location: Beer Law Center (a subsection of Matheson & Associates PLLC) located in Raleigh, NC.

Brief background of education, certification, etc.: Schwam earned a BA in English and psychology from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Upon completing paralegal studies at Meredith College, Schwam became a certified North Carolina paralegal.

What’s one thing you’d like to see the NCBA PD do/accomplish in the short term for its membership? More membership socials geared towards paralegals to enable communication among members.

What did you never think you would be doing? Writing a book with my boss! My attorney and I are currently in the process of writing a legal book that will be published next year.

What are you reading? I’m an avid reader; I’m always reading! Right now I’m reading “A Simple Favor” by Darcey Bell. I just started the book, and it’s full of suspense.

Favorite podcast, favorite Netflix series? Absolutely love the show called “The Tudors.” It’s an older show that originally was on HBO. I think you can watch all of the seasons on Netflix now. If you love period pieces and historical dramas, then this is the show for you.

What are some volunteer organizations you have worked with? In the past I volunteered with the Raleigh Police Department. For the past two years I volunteered with the NC Legal Aid with their program called Paralegal On the Line.

Communications Committee Co-Chair Alicia Mitchell-Mercer

Name, position and major duties: Alicia Mitchell-Mercer, ACP, RP, SCCP is a senior paralegal and legal project manager at a general practice law firm. She also works as a legal project management consultant for LexPM Consulting. At her firm, Mitchell-Mercer specializes in complex litigation, family law, and estate planning and participates in client pitches and RFPs as needed to highlight LPM capabilities to clients and serve as a project manager on certain large client projects. As a consultant, Mitchell-Mercer provides services to law firms and legal organizations that drive efficiency and strengthen the firm’s ability to gather data, plan, estimate and execute legal projects.

Firm or Corporation/Location: Brown & Associates, PLLC and LexPM Consulting in Charlotte

Brief background of education, certification, etc.: Mitchell-Mercer has a BS in Paralegal Studies and an MS in project management (emphasis on legal project management and engineering economic analysis). She received her CP credential from NALA, PACE RP credential NFPA, and SCCP from the South Carolina Bar. I also hold an ACP credential in Contracts Administration, Trial Practice, Business Organizations: Incorporated Entities, and E-Discovery from NALA.

She served on the Council for the NCBA PD from 2016-2018 alongside lawyers from across the state on the NCBA’s Internet & Regulations Task Force (IRTF), which was established to study the Internet practice of law and its regulation in the wake of the enactment of House Bill 436 – the “LegalZoom Bill.” In addition to being Co-Chair of the Communications Committee, she served as Chair of the Technology Committee.

What’s one thing you’d like to see the NCBA PD do/accomplish in the short term for its membership? I’m not personally a freelance paralegal, but I’d like to see a database created for paralegals that work as freelance or contract paralegals similar to the database the South Carolina Bar maintains. I realize the NCBA already has a job bank, but a freelance paralegal database would make it easier for attorneys to connect with contract paralegals on a short-term basis in the event there is a temporary vacancy in the office related to illness, pregnancy, short-term increases in workload, vacations, etc. It would allow attorneys to fill these vacancies through NCBA PD members without having to go through the hassle of temp agencies or placing classified ads for temporary work.

What did you never think you would be doing? Consulting. I began working with Lex Project Management Consulting on June 30, 2017. Our consultants work with legal organizations on the implementation of legal project management, selection of practice management and project management technologies, and work with firms to increase employee productivity and morale. Close friends know that I’m extremely introverted so forcing myself to step out of my comfort zone and put myself out there hasn’t been easy. But I’m enjoying what we are doing and that makes a world of difference.

What are you reading? Right now I’m reading “The Cat of Bubastes, A Tale of Ancient Egypt” with my 10th grader. When I’m not reading along with whatever our son is reading, I’m reading project management and technology books to keep up with changes in the legal industry. I have one teen in college studying accounting, so sometimes I find myself reading his books that are left over from last semester – microeconomics and things of that nature.

Favorite podcast, favorite Netflix series? My family thinks I’m a little on the corny side. I still watch old “Little House on the Prairie” reruns. Similar to that is “When Calls the Heart” on Netflix. I love it because it has great family values and a lot of humor.

What are some volunteer organizations you have worked with? In my free time, I volunteer with Autism Speaks, Compassion International, the Guardian ad litem program for the 26th Judicial District, and with Charlotte-area human trafficking organizations. I really don’t have “free” time but I make room for priorities!

Calling All Division Members!

Who me? Yes, you!

An ongoing function of the the Communications Committee is to provide you with important information regarding Division activities via the blog. Over the next year, you can expect to receive important updates regarding the Division as well as upcoming events from your leadership. But, wait – there’s more! There’s you!

Paralegal Spotlight – Member Profiles

This year we hope to inspire some virtual networking by reaching out to some of our members and profiling them for our monthly Paralegal Spotlight blog publication. This will be your chance to share a little about your personal background and your professional life. We look forward to hearing more about your personal and professional goals, technology tips, interests, great accomplishments, volunteer work, and the like. Don’t be shy. Our Division members have a wonderful variety of talents, skills, and interests and we look forward to hearing from you!

Paralegal Perspectives – Article Submissions

We also ask you to remember that this is YOUR Paralegal Division. We aren’t much of an association without you! We are asking those with a penchant for writing to sign up to submit a blog article between now and June 2019. We would like to share two member-inspired blog posts each month for your viewing pleasure. That’s right. We want to put your skill-set on display.

You can write about anything you like as long as it is related to the paralegal field. Topics may include soft skills, general words of wisdom, practice management, technology, or specific areas of law such as:

  • Adoption, Custody, and Parentage

  • Aeronautics and Space

  • Banking and Finance

  • Constitutional Issues

  • Crime and Law Enforcement

  • Education, Family, and Children’s Rights

  • Elections and Campaign Finance

  • Government Powers and Litigation

  • Healthcare, Safety, and Bioethics

  • Immigration, Nationality, and Citizenship

  • Indigenous and Cultural Property

  • Intellectual Property

  • Legal History, Traditions, and System

  • Marriage, Divorce, and Estates

  • Minority and Human Rights

  • Plants, Animals, and the Environment

  • Privacy Rights and Data Protection

  • Property and Land Rights

  • Taxation and Corporations

  • Travel Requirements, Visas, and Foreigners’ Rights

  • Treaties and International Agreements

  • War Crimes, Terrorism, and National Security

We also know you are busy and want to make it easy for you to participate. You can sign-up to submit blog posts via this link: Sign Up. There are two available slots each month. We will reach out to you directly regarding your submission deadlines after you sign-up.

If you have any questions, you can email us as follows: ncbaparalegals@gmail.com

We are looking forward to a full, productive, and fantastic year of getting to know our membership as your Communications Committee Co-Chairs. In case you missed it, click here to check out our Chair’s overview of the upcoming year!  We hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you!

Mollie Schwam and Alicia Mitchell-Mercer