Welcome to the 2018-2019 Bar Year!

By Leslie Pegram

Thank you for choosing to be a member of the Paralegal Division. I hope that you find your membership professionally satisfying and that you’ll take advantage of the many member benefits offered by the North Carolina Bar Association. I’m honored to be serving as chair this year alongside a diverse group of paralegals from across the state who are volunteering their time to serve as officers, council members, committee chairs and Section liaisons.

As we commence the 21st year of the Paralegal Division, first, I’d like to thank Immediate Past Chair Debbie Harris for her service last year. We faced several challenges last year as a Division, and she managed each with grace and professionalism. This year is another year of change. We will face all of them together and do our best to keep you informed and educated on the decisions made by the council.

Last year the Bar Association started focusing more on enhancing the member experience. We are following their lead and embracing that focus to find ways to enhance your membership in the Division. From member pop-up socials to pro bono opportunities to new ways to deliver CPE programming, we have some great things in store. We are currently finalizing a calendar of events to keep you posted on the many offerings this year.

CPE

I want to recognize and thank our CPE Chairs Stephanie Elliott and Melissa Stockley Jones, who have been working hard to plan some great CPE programs this year. If you have never planned a CPE program before, a lot of time and effort goes in to providing the high-level of continuing education opportunities. If you have an idea or are interested in presenting on a topic, please reach out to Stephanie or Melissa. Volunteering to present a CPE can earn CPE credit hours.

With CPE this year, we are looking at new ways to deliver content. We understand that not all members can get away from the office for a day or be able to afford a large, one-time cost of a CPE program, especially if your firm/organization does not pay for all or part of the costs associated with attending a CPE program. To address this need, we will offer CPE topics via one-hour webcasts during fall and winter to help you earn CPE credit at your desk during lunch. Our spring offerings will include three live programs: the NCCP Exam Review Course, IP Institute and our Annual Meeting.

Hopefully you checked out the six-part Family Law Paralegal Webinar Series email that hit your inboxes this week. You may have noticed there is a cost associated with each webcast. You may be asking, “What happened to free webcasts?” The reason for the cost is twofold. First, this series replaces our one-day live Family Law CPE seminar. Second, we were informed by the CLE department that offering all webcasts for free is no longer financially sustainable for the Bar. The free webcasts have been supplemented by a grant from the State Bar that allowed us to offer free or low-cost tuition for our members. We have exhausted our current grant and will be applying for a new grant. Based on financial modeling, moving forward there will be costs associated with most of our webcasts. But, in addition to the grant, we hope to find sponsors for our programming to keep costs low. If you know or work for someone interested in sponsoring a webcast, please let us know. It is important to the council to find ways to continue to offer free and low-cost CPE webcasts as a member benefit. As I mentioned, our CPE Committee is committed to developing quality CPE programs and your support by attending is vital and appreciated. While I cannot promise the return of all free webcasts, at the very least, it is my hope we can offer one or two 1-hr ethics/wellness webcasts for free as a member benefit. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the CPE Premier Pass, an exclusive NCBA member benefit providing unlimited CPE for $325 for Paralegal Division Members. Click here to find out more.

Pop-up Socials

Please join us at either an NCBA-sponsored social with area attorneys or a Paralegal Social we are planning across the state. Pop-up socials are a great way to network. Stop by for a few minutes or stay the entire time and meet fellow paralegals. We plan to make November and December our Division’s Season of Giving where we plan to host a charity drive in conjunction with our member socials.

Pro Bono

Our Pro Bono Committee has been busy working on a collaborative project with Legal Aid of North Carolina that will be able to truly, actively engage paralegal members. We will share more details for signing up once they are available.

If you are interested in volunteering your time with the Wills for Heroes program, there are two opportunities in October to participate. The Wills for Heroes program provides essential legal documents — including wills, living wills and powers of attorney free of charge to North Carolina first responders. Paralegals have the opportunity to volunteer as Notaries or general volunteers (check-in, printing documents, serving as witnesses, etc.).

Volunteer Shifts/Dates

Morning Shift: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Afternoon Shift: 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 6, 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m., UNC School of Law, Chapel Hill

Saturday, Oct. 27, 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Elon School of Law, Greensboro

Register here via the North Carolina Bar Foundation website

If you do participate, let us know your experience as we would love to share it with everyone via our Division’s Blog.

August Council Meeting and Strategic Planning

The Council had its first Business Meeting and Strategic Planning on Aug. 11, 2018. I’m pleased to report we had great attendance and active discussions. I’ll share a summary of the meeting and our calendar of events in a future blog.

I encourage all members to be involved with the Division. If you are interested, please email me at lesliepegramnccp@gmail.com and I’d be happy to talk to you and try to match your interests with a committee.