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.

Q: What’s one thing you’d like to see the NCBA PD do/accomplish in the short term for its membership?

A: I would like to see more opportunities for paralegals to be involved in pro bono opportunities.

Q: What are you reading right now?

A: I am currently reading “As Sure as the Dawn” by Francine Rivers. I love historical novels, but I also enjoy books about health and fitness. I just finished “Fat for Fuel” by Dr. Joseph Mercola, and am currently reading “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance” by Drs. Jeff S. Volek and Stephen D. Phinney. Of course, during my work time, I read a LOT of case law.

Q: What do you wish other people knew about you?

A: For anyone who feels their current circumstances or their upbringing will prevent them from succeeding in life, I would encourage them with my story.  I was homeschooled but we were not part of any groups, as many homeschoolers are now. My extracurricular activities consisted of golf and fishing. As a result of being in a close-knit family, I did not have a lot of friends, immersed myself in books and writing, and had a lack of self-confidence for a long time. As a teenager and young adult, I struggled with anxiety and depression, an eating disorder, unhealthy relationships, health issues, and pregnancy loss. I had no idea how to garner self-respect, and it wasn’t until I was at the lowest of lows in my early twenties that I decided I had to do something. Were it not for God answering my prayers to better myself, I would not be where I am today. I had no money to go to school, but I used every resource I could find beginning with financial aid and supplementing with scholarships, and I made high grades a priority. I volunteered for every opportunity I could to build a character resume before I had actual work experience in the paralegal field. I had a family, so I had to work full time, go to school at night and online, and cram in homework on the weekends. It was difficult, but I did what I had to because I recognized the value of hard work and difficult times for a short while to reach a big goal. I would encourage anyone who feels they are stuck to pray for God’s direction and to be willing to work hard and sacrifice with a clear goal in mind. Completely changing the course of your life requires absolute focus and dedication.

Q: Share something about yourself that you’re working on improving, and how you think (XYZ) will be better/more productive/run more smoothly once you’ve accomplished your goal.

A: Because I worked hard for so long, I have developed a habit of feeling the need to always be busy and productive. While productivity is a good thing overall, people can be much more effectively productive when they are well-rested and not stressed. I have a difficult time with relaxing. Even when I am doing something enjoyable, such as a sport, I have a tendency to be competitive and put everything I have into it. I am working on recognizing when I need to slow down and take time for myself before I get to the burnout stage. My problem is that I become so focused on being effective at work and in my volunteer activities that my personal life can become chaotic and disorganized. I believe that improving habits and time management in my personal life, including taking personal time, will improve my self-confidence and overall mood, which in turn will make me a better paralegal.

Q: What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming a paralegal?

A: Being a paralegal is not for the faint of heart. There are administrative paralegal jobs (such as real property) and there are messier paralegal positions (like family or criminal law). While I don’t know that everyone can decide what type of law they want to do prior to going to school, I think that knowing your personality type is a must so you will know whether you will be cut out for the field at all. If you are not an empathetic person or someone who enjoys contact with people, your choices for a position might be limited.

Q: If you weren’t a paralegal, what would you be doing instead?

A: If I were not a paralegal, I would start a cafe that caters to special diets – gluten-free, paleo, keto, dairy-free, vegan – and I would constantly be creating new recipes of delicious dishes as daily specials. Health, fitness, and diet intrigue me. I love reading about the scientific processes that occur in the body with food and exercise.

Q: How would your co-workers describe you?

A: My co-workers would probably describe me as a lot of things depending on whether we’re talking about my personal or professional qualities, but I think they would all agree that I’m a team player. I have always been a people pleaser, both in my personal life and at work. If I can help, I always will, and if I can’t, I will find someone who is able to. I like to take initiative and make things happen.

Q: What do you do when you aren’t working?

A: When I’m not working, I’m doing any or all of the following: working out (Olympic weightlifting is my thing), cooking, attending my boys’ soccer practices or games or taking them to the beach, serving at church, watching Netflix with my husband (we’re currently binging “Friday Night Lights,” and before that it was “Outlander” and “The Last Kingdom”), and I occasionally go out with friends to local restaurants and/or breweries. It probably sounds lame, but some of my favorite things to do on the weekend are try new coffee shops and go to farmers markets.

Q: What is your favorite, perhaps little-known, technology tip?

A: It’s not little-known, but I love the “Find” or “Replace” functions in Microsoft Word or “Find” in PDF’s or just on an internet page. It’s a huge time-saver when doing research, especially if you’re looking for something specific in a long document or post.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

A: In 10 years, my son will be graduating from high school. At that point, I would ideally like to have finished my bachelor’s degree. If at that time I still want to be in the legal field, I would like to pursue law school. So I can begin working toward this goal, I have recently been accepted at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, where I plan to enroll this fall in online Business Administration Management.

Rachel Royal lives in Hampstead with her husband Reuben, and their children, Phoenix and Christian. Royal grew up in the Appalachian Mountains and enjoys reading, writing, cooking, music, weightlifting, outdoor activities, and volunteering at church. She has been involved with the Paralegal Division since 2015 as a student member, won the NCBA Paralegal Student scholarship in 2016, and has been a council member and Pro Bono Co-Chair since May 2018. Mrs. Royal’s goal as a division member is to inspire paralegals to feel pride in their career and promote involvement in pro bono services across the state.