Almendarez Nominated for the North Carolina State Bar Board of Paralegal Certification Vacancy

By the Paralegal Division Council

The Paralegal Division nominates Shawana W. Almendarez, NCCP, for consideration for the North Carolina State Bar Board of Paralegal Certification vacancy. Shawana is committed to the paralegal profession, the legal community, and the general public. Shawana has been a paralegal for 23 years. She has held her North Carolina State Bar Paralegal Certification for 18 years and North Carolina Notary Public Commission for 23 years.

Shawana, a woman with black hair, wears a teal shirt and bright green jacket.

Shawana W. Almendarez

She continues to promote the utilization of paralegals and continued legal education of paralegals through her service to the NCBA Paralegal Division, its Communities, and advocacy work. She serves as a proctor for the North Carolina State Bar’s Paralegal Certification exam when needed. She served the North Carolina Bar Association as the Paralegal Division liaison for the Legal Regulatory Reform Task Force in 2016.

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Volunteer to Prepare Expunction Petitions Remotely

Rachel, a white woman with blond hair, wears a peach blouse. Green foliage is in the background.By Rachel Royal

On September 23, 2023, the Charlotte Expunction Clinic will again be held at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse. This project is a partnership of the following organizations: the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy (the “Advocacy Center”), the SelfServe Center, and the Mecklenburg County Clerk of Superior Court’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, and Public Defender’s Office. During the clinics, volunteer public defenders will offer advice to applicants regarding their eligibility for expunction relief under North Carolina law.

The project has held six (6) prior clinics since 2019. The previous partnership with the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center has now been replaced by the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, and this will be their first time coordinating this clinic. Since August 2021, paralegals have been utilized by this project to review criminal records and attorney analysis forms in order to prepare petitions for attorney review.

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Jennifer Smith-Sutphin’s Journey to Becoming a Paralegal

Jennifer, a woman with blond hair, wears a black blouse.By the Communications Committee

Jennifer is a Certified Paralegal in North Carolina and South Carolina and has been a paralegal for 25 years. She also received her Advanced Certified Paralegal Certification in Trial Practice, Land Use, and Real Property through the National Association of Legal Assistants. Jennifer attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and received her Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice in 1998. She is a Manager of Legal Services with the Office of the City Attorney in Greensboro, North Carolina. She has worked there since 2010.

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Register Now for the Paralegal Division’s 2023 Annual Meeting

By the CPE Committee

Registration is now underway for the Paralegal Division’s 2023 Annual Meeting scheduled for Friday, May 5, 2023, at the North Carolina Bar Center, 8000 Weston Parkway, Cary, NC. This year’s theme is “Paralegal 101: Back to the Basics,” which will bring a variety of topics to help paralegals take their careers to the next level.

The Diversity and Inclusion Committee will host a reception on Thursday, May 4, 2023, from 5 to 7 p.m. Come join us for food, fun and music as we prepare for a Friday full of CPEs!

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Through Our Eyes – From Firm to In-House

Katie Riddle is a young woman with blond hair and grey eyes. She is pictured smiling and wearing a blue shirt, and she is standing against a light background.Aimee, a white woman with brown hair, wears a royal blue blouse.By Katie Riddle and Aimee Roix

Currently, paralegals have many more employment and growth opportunities than ever before. Paralegals were once thought to be simply responsible for secretarial or administrative duties within their firm. However, this has now vastly changed in more ways than one. Today, paralegals handle more substantive work and often fill their task lists with detailed planning, drafting, and research assignments to assist their attorneys and clients. Taking on such duties has made paralegals irreplaceable in the workforce and has opened new doors for opportunities across the legal field.

One considerable new opportunity for paralegals is the shift in traditional work settings that has become more common over the past few years. While we have moved towards more of a remote/virtual setting for many legal professionals, we have also seen a change in the type of employers seeking to hire paralegals.  It is now very common to see paralegals working in places other than law firms. Today, you may see paralegals acting in a freelance capacity – in which they own their own business and their clients are attorneys that give them tasks and provide them with the required level of supervision for paralegal work. Additionally, you may see paralegals working in areas and settings involving public interests, the government, non-profits, and even in-house positions.

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Paralegal Spotlight: Kari Fabrizio

By the Communications Committee

Kari Fabrizio began her legal career in Baldwinsville, New York, where she owned her own freelance transcriptionist company. Since resettling to Forsyth County, North Carolina nearly 30 years ago, she has supported some of North Carolina’s most sought-after family law attorneys. Today, Kari is a North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegal at Dana Wilson Law in Winston-Salem. In her role as a family law paralegal, Kari works closely with people facing some of the most difficult times of their lives. After all, nobody hires a family lawyer because things are great at home. Kari’s ability to make every client feel heard is one of her many paralegal superpowers. From an attorney support perspective, Kari digests and organizes large volumes of information with ease, prepares motions, discovery, and financial affidavits with a keen eye for detail, and assembles mediation and trial preparation materials like it is in her DNA. Kari’s diligent nature goes a long way toward attorneys and clients presenting their best possible case.

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2022 Pro Bono Reporting is Open for NC Paralegals

Rachel, a white woman with blond hair, wears a peach blouse. Green foliage is in the background.By Rachel Royal

In 2022, the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center (the “PBRC”) launched a statewide voluntary Paralegal Pro Bono Reporting process for the first time. In 2022, 127 paralegals reported performing 1,983 hours of pro bono service throughout the year. Additionally, 13 of those paralegals who reported a combined 1,227 hours were inducted into the inaugural cohort of the North Carolina Paralegal Pro Bono Honor Society! The PBRC has once again opened pro bono reporting for paralegals to report their hours served in 2022. The reporting period closes on March 31, 2023. This process is open to all North Carolina paralegals, regardless of education or certification status.

While there is no requirement for paralegals to offer pro bono services in North Carolina, there is an ethical responsibility for attorneys to do so under North Carolina Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1, and Guideline 10 of the ABA Model Guidelines for Utilization of Paralegal Services states that “[a] lawyer who employs a paralegal should facilitate the paralegal’s participation in appropriate continuing education and pro bono publico activities.” Rule 6.1 encourages North Carolina attorneys to provide at least 50 hours of legal services per year at no cost to individuals of limited means and/or charitable or other organizations that serve individuals of limited means.

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Through Our Eyes – A Paralegal’s View into Spousal Support (Post-Separation Support and Alimony)

Peggy Pardue is a white woman with light brown, shoulder-length hair. she is wearing wire-rimmed glasses and a bright blue blouse. She is pictured smiling.By Peggy M. Pardue 

As a Family Law paralegal, assisting clients with regard to spousal support is an important skill. When a client comes to your office, they are often scared and concerned about their financial future. It is imperative to provide knowledge and expertise with respect to financial matters, while also being patient and understanding of the client’s concerns.

Helping a client navigate a spousal support case requires the paralegal to be knowledgeable of financial matters. Paralegals must also know how to obtain the documents necessary to calculate spousal support. As a matter of fact, there are potentially more documents needed for a spousal support case than in a child support case. Paralegals also need to understand how to do an analysis of their client’s monthly financial needs. This can be challenging because many people do not know how much their monthly expenses are, possibly due to the other spouse paying the bills. It is the paralegal’s duty to help clients determine how to obtain financial documents and what their expenses are. Paralegals need to know how to obtain online access to accounts, contact information for banks, find lender information for a mortgage, and other types of documents. Additionally, a paralegal must be able to assist clients in completing a financial analysis (Financial Affidavit) of their expenses. This is crucial to helping them determine how much support they need to survive each month. This can also be very time-consuming. Having tools at your fingertips to assist clients with document discovery and calculating their monthly expenses is critical to being a Family Law paralegal.

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Paralegal Spotlight: Anna Skaggs’ Journey to Becoming a Paralegal

Peggy Pardue is a white woman with light brown, shoulder-length hair. she is wearing wire-rimmed glasses and a bright blue blouse. She is pictured smiling.

Peggy Pardue

By Peggy M. Pardue on behalf of the Communications Committee

Anna Skaggs is a North Carolina Certified Paralegal who was certified in 2016. She works for Collins Family & Elder Law Group in their Charlotte office.

Anna has been a Paralegal for her entire career and started her journey when she was just 19 years old. She will be celebrating 31 years in June of this year. Anna says, “when you know, you just know.” She had been considering law school but decided to look at the paralegal field. From the moment she sat in her first class at Marshall University, she never looked back or doubted that she made the right career choice. She is so thankful for the teachers, mentors, and attorneys who supported and guided her, and truly loves this work.

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Be a Pro Bono Paralegal at this Year’s 4ALL Statewide Service Day!

Crosby, a white woman with short golden brown hair, wears a pink blouse and black blazer with white dots.By Stephanie Crosby

I am proud to be the co-chair of the 16th Annual 4ALL Statewide Service Day, which will be held on Friday, March 3, 2023, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The 4ALL Statewide Service Day is a pro bono program of the North Carolina Bar Foundation and held in conjunction with the North Carolina Bar Association. During 4ALL, North Carolina lawyers provide free legal answers, information, and resources to callers seeking information regarding North Carolina-related legal matters. Once again, paralegals will be able to participate virtually as call screeners.

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