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2022 Paralegal Division Annual Meeting: Transcending Today's Paralegal

8:55        Welcome and Introductions

9:00        Current Trends in E-discovery

Jeremy D. Locklear, Jackson Lewis PC, Raleigh
Lenor Marquis-Segal, Hitachi Energy, Raleigh
Samantha C. Miller, Fidelity Investments, Raleigh

A panel of experts explores the latest trends in e-discovery.

10:00      Break

10:10      Creating a More Trauma-Informed Court System in NC

LaToya B. Powell, North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Raleigh

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) — such as maltreatment, poverty, family violence, racism and discrimination — can have a profoundly negative impact on children, increasing the likelihood that they will end up in the criminal justice system. To address this issue, NC Chief Justice Paul Newby created the Chief Justice's Task Force on ACEs-Informed Courts in May 2021. The mission of the ACEs Task Force is to equip court officials and other justice system stakeholders to better recognize and address the ways in which exposure to childhood trauma and ACEs impacts individuals within our court system, particularly children.

This session discusses how the ACEs Task Force is working to create a more trauma-informed court system that can help support children impacted by ACEs and prevent them from becoming entangled in the criminal justice system.

11:10      Break

11:20      Bridging the Access to Justice Gap With Nonlawyers – Part 1

Shawana W. Almendarez, City Attorney's Office, Charlotte
S. M. Kernodle-Hodges, Tolliver Richardson & Kernodle LLC, Raleigh
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer, Lex Project Management Consulting Group, Charlotte
Rachel L. Royal, Royal Touch Legal & Business Solutions LLC, Wilmington

This session explains how paralegals may be leveraged to meet civil legal needs and provide an update concerning the status of legal regulatory reform in North Carolina.

12:20      Lunch Break

1:35        Bridging the Access to Justice Gap With Nonlawyers – Part 2

Shawana W. Almendarez, City Attorney's Office, Charlotte
S. M. Kernodle-Hodges, Tolliver Richardson & Kernodle LLC, Raleigh
Alicia Mitchell-Mercer, Lex Project Management Consulting Group, Charlotte
Rachel L. Royal, Royal Touch Legal & Business Solutions LLC, Wilmington

Continue the discussion on how paralegals may be leveraged to meet civil needs and hear an update concerning the status of legal regulatory reform in North Carolina.

2:35        Break

2:45        Becoming a Disability Advocate: Educate, Equip, Empower

Saprina Brown Taylor, Law Office of Saprina Brown Taylor, Mebane

Discuss Social Security advocacy and the role paralegals can play in assisting disabled people who are applying for Social Security disability benefits. Learn Social Security rules and regulations and receive practical tips.

3:45        Break

3:55        Paralegal Ethics 101*

Joy C. Belk, North Carolina State Bar, Raleigh

Managing director of the board of paralegal certification, Joy Belk, leads a discussion on the standards of legal ethics, general principles of proper conduct, and professional responsibilities for paralegals.

4:55        Adjourn

* Indicates portion providing Ethics/Professional Responsibility credit

Thank you

Thank you for joining us for 2022 Paralegal Division Annual Meeting: Transcending Today's Paralegal.


This program is sure to be fun and exciting and filled with lots of information to take your career to the next level.


  • Shawana W. Almendarez

    Shawana W. Almendarez is a NC Certified Paralegal and Notary working with the City Attorney's Office in Charlotte. She is an experienced paralegal with a demonstrated history of working in the government administration industry. She is skilled in coaching, government, team building and legal writing.

    Shawana is the NCBA Paralegal Division Chair for 2021-22. Expanding the legal profession's market reach through public service!

    Shawana earned her Associate's degree in Paralegal Studies from King's College and her Bachelor's degree in Business/Legal Studies from Strayer University.

    Click here for more information about Shawana.

  • Joy C. Belk

    Joy C. Belk is the Managing Director of Paralegal Certification at the North Carolina State Bar in Raleigh. She is an experienced, outcome-based and solution-oriented leader with over 15 years of legal experience, 10+ years of audit experience, 7+ years of experience managing implementation and compliance guidelines. She has experience with HIPPA, ERISA & DOI guidelines. She is adept at forecasting, developing processes, delivery management and quality control.

    Joy is an expert in developing and maintaining relationships with Boards, Committees, internal and external clients. She is a sought after public speaker and presenter in the areas of compliance, ethics and certification.

    Joy earned her B.A. in Health and Human Performances from East Carolina University, her M.A. in Human Services from Liberty University and her Master's Certificate in Forensic Psychology from Grand Canyon University. She also earned an A.B.A. Post Graduate in Paralegal Studies from Meredith College

    Click here for more information about Joy.

  • Alice L. Johnson

    Alice L. Johnson is paralegal in Cary.

    Click here for more information about Alice.

  • Kimberly M. Johnson

    Kimberly M. Johnson is with the Department of Health and Human Services in Raleigh.

    Kimberly is a member of the Paralegal Division Council and participates in the CPE and Diversity & Inclusion committees. In 2021, she developed two lunch and learn sessions for the CPE committee: Competency and Confidentiality for Paralegals and Inclusion Within the Multicultural and Multigenerational Workplace. She is a member of the Bar Association's Task Force On Integration, Equity and Equal Justice.

    Kimberly graduated from Wofford College with a B.A. in History. She has a M.A. in Human Resources Management from Webster University. She received her paralegal certificate from Midlands Technical College.

  • Paulene Scott Kearney

    Paulene Scott Kearney is a AVP Compliance Officer for First Citizens Bank in Raleigh. She focuses on tracking, investigating, and response to customer complaints in accordance with First Citizens Bank's Complaint Management Program. She resolves complex operational and compliance issues through effective communication with stakeholders to evaluate current processes and appropriate response. She assists with integrating the complaint programs of two separate banks, in addition to, the overall expansion and improvement of efficient and effective data collection, analysis, and management reporting processes for bank customer complaints.

    Paulene was formally the Legal Operatoins Manager in the Creditor's Rights Department at Smith Debnam Narron Drake Saintsing & Myers LLP in Raleigh. She managed up to 20 paralegals and paralegal assistants in the NC, SC and VA high volume practice areas.She was with the firm for 21 years.

    In 2003, Paulene completed the Paralegal Studies Program through UNC Wilmington. She has been a North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegal since 2007. She is currently on the board of the NC Bar Association Paralegal Committee and has served on the board of the RWPA in various roles since 2012. One of those roles was the President of the RWPA from 2018-2020.

    Click here for more information about Paulene.

  • S. M. Kernodle-Hodges

    S. M. Kernodle-Hodges is a legal project manager for Tolliver Richardson & Kernodle LLC in Raleigh. The firm specializes in the areas of project management, advocacy, mediation, and community engagement.

    S.M. Kernodle-Hodges continues to provide exceptional support and service to the Paralegal Division's Pro Bono Committee as Co-Chair (with Rachel Royal). Additionally, Kernodle-Hodges is co-author (with Alicia Mitchell-Mercer) of the North Carolina Justice For All Project (JFAP) proposal submitted to the North Carolina Supreme Court and the North Carolina State Bar. The proposal requests the creation of a limited licensing program to allow qualified paralegals and certain law school graduates to offer limited legal services to the public as an access to justice initiative.

    Ms. Kernodle-Hodges also joined the North Carolina State Bar's Subcommittee Studying Regulatory Change. The subcommittee is formulating its recommendations on the initiatives the State Bar should pursue, including ideas such as creating a limited license for paraprofessionals, initiating a court navigators program and liberalizing the rules on the unauthorized practice of law.

    Ms. Kernodle-Hodges has an A.S. in administrative justice from Patrick Henry Community College and a B.S. in criminal justice and sociology from Averett University. Following her undergraduate studies, Kernodle attended Duke University in Durham, graduated from their paralegal program, and obtained her North Carolina Certified Paralegal credential.

    Ms. Kernodle-Hodge's accomplishments are too numerous to list, but some of Kernodle-Hodge's other noteworthy accomplishments include being a North Carolina Municipal Clerk, a U.S. District Court Mediator for the Western District of North Carolina, and a Victim Service Practitioner. Kernodle also completed a three-year term as a Council Member for the Paralegal Division. In her continued commitment to community, service, and education, Ms. Kernodle-Hodges also served on the Wake County North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) Board of Directors and is a Guardian ad Litem for Wake County Courts. In these roles, she is a voice for students, children, families, and Education Support Professional (ESPs).

  • Jeremy D. Locklear

    Jeremy D. Locklear is an associate labor and employmnet attorney in the Raleigh office of Jackson Lewis PC. His practice focuses on representing employers in workplace law matters, including preventive advice and counseling.

    Personally, he is passionate about all things related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, especially relating to Native Americans. He continues to work to ensure that we not only have a seat at the table, but that our voices are heard!

    Jeremy earned his B.A. in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his J.D., cum laude, from North Carolina Central University School of Law.

    Click here for more information about Jeremy.

  • Lenor Marquis-Segal

    Lenor Marquis-Segal is Senior Counsel of Global Litigation at Hitachi Energy in Raleigh. Lenor practiced with Heller Ehrman in Menlo Park, CA and then moved back to New York City where she litigated with Heller Ehrman and then Steptoe & Johnson LLP. Prior to joining ABB, she was Of Counsel with Ellis & Winters LLP in Raleigh.

    Lenor is a creative and practical problem-solving attorney with law firm and in-house legal experience advocating for innovation through smart use of legal technology! She is passionate about evolving law into an inclusive and diverse profession.

    Lenor earned her B.S. from Cornell University and her J.D., cum laude, from New York University School of Law.

    Click here for more information about Lenor.

  • Samantha C. Miller

    Samantha C. Miller is a Vice President of Discovery Services at Fidelity Investments in Raleigh, where she oversees an internal team of experts skilled in data identification, preservation, collection, analysis and production along with managing a spectrum of alternative legal providers (both domestic and offshore) analyzing and reviewing data. Samantha worked with internal software developers to build a proprietary legal holds and discovery workflow system, which has dramatically improved efficiency, cost-effectiveness and recordkeeping of the in-house discovery program at Fidelity.

    Prior to joining Fidelity, she was a senior litigation paralegal at Foley Hoag and Skadden Arps, supporting major class actions and business litigation.

    Samantha is a graduate of Northeastern University and is a Certified eDiscovery Specialist (CEDS).

    Click here for more information about Samantha.

  • Alicia Mitchell-Mercer

    Alicia Mitchell-Mercer is Director of Project Management at Lex Project Management Consulting Group. She oversees outsourced Project Management Office (PMO) and Legal Project Management (LPM) services to legal organizations that lack PMO or LPM capabilities. She also provides training on improving efficiency, mitigating risks, and optimizing resources. She is also a project manager at Brown & Associates PLLC in Charlotte.

    Alicia has a B.S. in Legal Studies and an M.S. in Project Management. She is presently pursuing a Doctorate in Public Administration. Previously, she worked as a civil litigation paralegal and trust manager.

    Alicia is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) by the Project Management Institute, a certified Legal Project Practitioner (LPP) by the International Institute of Legal Project Management, and a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) by Scrum Alliance. She has paralegal certifications from the NC State Bar, the SC Bar, NALA - The Paralegal Association, and The National Federation of Paralegal Associations. She has advanced certifications in Trial Practice, Contracts Administration, E-discovery, and Business Organizations: Incorporated Entities.

    Alicia is Chair of the Utilization and Technology Committees of the NCBA, PD. Previously, she served on the Internet and Regulations Task Force, the Paralegal Division Council, and Chaired the Publication and Communication Committees. In 2021 Alicia received the NCBA Distinguished Paralegal of the Year Award. Alicia is also an advisory member of the State Bar's Subcommittee Studying Regulatory Change and serves NALA - The Paralegal Association as Chair of the Continuing Education Council and on their Board of Directors.

    Click here for more information about Alicia.

  • LaToya B. Powell

    LaToya B. Powell is a Deputy General Counsel at the NC Department of Public Safety in Raleigh where she primarily provides in-house legal counsel to the Division of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Prior to joining DPS, she served as Assistant Legal Counsel in the Office of General Counsel at the NC Administrative Office of the Courts where she advised judicial officials and their staff primarily on juvenile delinquency matters. She is also former Assistant Professor of Public Law and Government at the UNC School of Government where her research and teaching focused on juvenile justice issues.

    LaToya is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at Campbell University School of Law. Prior to becoming a law professor, LaToya was an Assistant Attorney General in the Appellate Section of the NC Department of Justice and a juvenile prosecutor in the Johnston County District Attorney's Office. She is an active member of the North Carolina Bar Association and is a current co-chair of the Minorities in the Profession Committee and former chair of the Juvenile Justice and Children's Rights Section, which named Powell as the 2020 "Children's Champion."

    LaToya earned her B.A., cum laude, in Criminology from North Carolina State University and her J.D. from University of North Carolina School of Law.

    Click here for more information about LaToya.

  • Rachel L. Royal

    Rachel L. Royal is the Founder and Owner of Royal Touch Legal & Business Solutions LLC in Wilmington. The company was founded on the principles of devoted work ethic, exceeding expectations, integrity, and faith. Royal Touch offers freelance services to sole practitioners and small law firms who do not have the capacity for a full-time or even part-time paralegal or who needs assistance on a short-term basis for large projects or cases. They can also provide contract services to corporate or municipal law offices, as well as other freelance/virtual paralegal firms.

    Rachel is proficient in drafting pleadings, motions, notices, discovery requests and responses, legal research and writing, project planning and coordination, and general law office organization. She is a freelance paralegal certified by both the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the North Carolina State Bar.

    Rachel graduated with honors from Carteret Community College's Paralegal Technology program as the Paralegal Graduate of the Year in 2017. She has 5 years of combined experience working as an on-site paralegal and 2 years of experience as a remote freelance paralegal and project coordinator. Her previous employment includes a privately owned practice, a corporate law office, and the Wilmington (NC) City Attorney's Office.

    Rachel has been contracted by the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission as a paralegal consultant and project coordinator since January 2021. With that organization, she has worked on the Driver's License Restoration and Housing Stability Projects, as well as managed the social media accounts for the Pro Bono Resource Center and the Commission. She is also a North Carolina notary public and electronic notary public, as well as a Public Arbitrator for Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

    Rachel has been a member in good standing with the North Carolina Bar Association Paralegal Division since 2015. She has been Pro Bono Co-Chair for the Division since 2018. She served a 3-year term as a voting council member of the Division from 2018 to 2021 and served as the Secretary for the 2021-22 Bar year. Rachel has also been a consistent contributor to the Paralegal Division Blog since 2018.

    Volunteering is one of Rachel's greatest passions, and she has devoted a great deal of time doing this in a paralegal capacity and encouraging paralegals across the state to join in this effort. Her volunteer activities have included: Legal on the Line - Paralegal Partnership with Legal Aid of North Carolina, Wills for Heroes as a notary public, Disaster Legal Services as a call screener, Disaster Relief clinics and FEMA Appeals clinics for victims of Hurricane Florence, 4All Statewide Service Day as a call screener, and a site coordinator and scoring director for the NCAJ Wilmington Regional High School Mock Trial competitions each year since 2019.

    Rachel lives in Wilmington with her husband, two sons, and Toy Australian Shepherd and enjoys traveling, outdoor activities, cooking, and reading.

    Click here for more information about Rachel.

  • Saprina Brown Taylor

    Saprina Brown Taylor is founder of the Law Office of Saprina Brown Taylor in Mebane. She has over 20 years of experience as a Social Security Disability attorney. Being an entrepreneur at heart, she founded her law firm in 2006 practicing in the areas of disability and injury law. Saprina has successfully argued cases before the United States Federal District Court, North Carolina State Courts, the North Carolina Industrial Commission and the Office of Hearings Operations.

    During the COVID 19 pandemic, given the opportunity to slow down and reflect, Saprina founded The Disability Teacher LLC, an online education training program. The mission of The Disability Teacher is to first, correct the misconception that you must be an attorney to advocate for people with disabilities before the Social Security Administration. Second, our mission is to Educate, Equip and Empower nonlawyers for a career as effective and zealous Social Security Disability Advocates for disabled people applying for benefits.

    Saprina serves as a member of the Alamance County Bar Association, National Association of Disability Representatives, Past President of the George H. White Bar Association, and the Burlington Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

    Saprina is a native of Laurel Hill. She received her B.A., magna cum laude, in Political Science from North Carolina Central University and her J.D. from North Carolina Central University School of Law. In 2012 NCCU inducted Saprina into their 40 Under 40 inaugural class.

    Saprina is married to Corey, and they have one son, Ethan. She loves spending time with her family at the beach or in the mountains and exploring her new hobby of gardening.

    Click here for more information about Saprina.

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May 6, 2022
Fri 8:55 AM EDT

Duration 8H 0M

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