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Paralegal 101: Back to the Basics (2023 Paralegal Division Annual Meeting)

8:25        Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:55        Welcome and Introductions

9:00        Diversity in the Corporate Workplace*

Sidney O. Minter, Advance Auto Parts, Raleigh

This session discusses what corporations can and should do to ensure a diverse workplace including a discussion on unconscious bias, conscious bias, and unlawful workplace discrimination.

10:00      Break

Sponsored by Veritext

10:10      Identifying Corporate Structures

Stephanie C. Crosby, Ward and Smith PA, New Bern

It's not just business paralegals who have to deal with business entities. At some point, most paralegals will need to form a new entity or figure out who the officers or managers are of an existing entity. This session talks about the basics of various business entity types, what's available to search at the NC Secretary of State's office, and the Assumed Business Name statute and database.

11:10      Break

11:20      Breakout Sessions:

Business Law Hot Topics in 2023

Matthew M. Villmer, Villmer Caudill PLLC, Charlotte

Explore trending topics in business law.


Financial Crime/Bank Fraud

Sharon Crabbe, First Citizens Bank, Raleigh

Discuss financial crimes in the banking industry and what's being done to deter them.

12:20      Paralegal Division Annual Meeting

Yazmeen O. Gadalla, Hendren Redwine & Malone, Raleigh, 2022-2023 Division Chair, Presiding

12:35      Lunch Break

1:20        Breakout Sessions:

Non-compete agreements: Can you contract yourself out of a career?

Erika Bales, RAS LaVrar LLC, Charlotte

This session discusses non-compete agreements, including what they are and how to defend them in complex litigations, and current trends involving non-compete agreements.


Legal Research: Insider Tips from Information Professionals

Tiffany M. Lòpez, Smith Anderson Blount Dorsett Mitchell & Jernigan LLP, Raleigh

Discuss what legal research is, get tips for conducting legal research and explore the tools available.

2:20        Break

2:30        Top Ethics Issues Affecting Lawyers & Paralegals*

Deanna Brocker, The Brocker Law Firm, Cary

Explore some of the most frequent ethics issues for lawyers and paralegals and learn top tips for maintaining an ethically compliant law practice. Discussion will include UPL, confidentiality, conflicts of interest, trust accounts, and client communication.

3:30        Break

3:40        Redefining the Practice of Law

Julie D. Beavers, Lawyers Mutual Liability Insurance Company of NC, Cary

The practice of law is transforming in front of our eyes. And with the transformation comes challenges. View your office through the lens of these five trends: (1) technology adoption, (2) cybersecurity (past the crisis point?), (3) COVID (has it changed our law offices permanently?), (4) regulatory reform, and (5) succession planning.

4:40        Adjourn

* Indicates portion providing Ethics/Professional Responsibility credit


Designed to assist the paralegal with expanding their skill set and provide avenues for which the paralegal can grow, this program offers sessions including diversity in the workplace, research, creditor's rights, real estate, defining corporate entities, complex litigation and bank fraud.


  • Erika Bales

    Erika Bales is of counsel for RAS LaVrar LLC in Charlotte. She is a general practice attorney experienced in litigation, debt collection, business assistance.

    After running her own successful solo general practice for more than 11 years, Erika closed her practice and joined RAS LaVrar as their NC counsel for debt collection in June 2022.

    Erika has published multiple articles on various topics over the years, including for the ABA Journal and a personal essay for the American Bar Association's HerStory2 to be published soon!

    Erika earned his B.A. in Behavioral Sciences, Psychology Concentration from Purdue University and her J.D. from North Carolina Central University School of Law.

    Click here for more information about Erika.

  • Julie D. Beavers

    Julie D. Beavers is the Director of Client Services at Lawyers Mutual Liability Insurance Company of NC in Cary. She provides risk management resources and education to policyholders and the legal profession. She is active in the North Carolina legal community and is a frequent CLE and professional development speaker with regional bar groups and national organizations.

    Locally, Julie is a member of the Board of Legal Specialization at the NC State Bar and serves as an Advisory Member of the CLE Committee. At the North Carolina Bar Association, she is a member of the Small Firm & Technology Council and previously served as Chair of the Transitioning Lawyers Commission and the Professional Wellness Committee. Julie is also active with the Raleigh Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association. She is a founding member and a three-term president of the Triangle Association of Legal Recruitment Administrators (TALRA), a city group of law firm recruitment professionals and law school career development professionals. On a national level, Julie is active with the NABRICO Marketing & Communications group and a member of NAMIC, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies. She previously held several national and regional leadership positions with the National Association of Legal Career Professionals (NALP), the organization that governs recruiting practices for private and public sector employers and accredited law schools in the US and Canada.

    A native of eastern North Carolina, Julie earned a B.S. from East Carolina University and a Human Resource Management Certification from Duke University. Before joining Lawyers Mutual, she served in professional roles at Ward and Smith PA, Campbell University School of Law, and Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice PLLC.

    Click here for more information about Julie.

  • Deanna S. Brocker

    Deanna S. Brocker is an owner of The Brocker Law Firm in Raleigh, and she concentrates exclusively in professional disciplinary defense and ethics counseling. Prior to reentering private practice, Deanna served as Assistant Ethics Counsel for the N.C. State Bar for over 10 years. She fielded thousands of telephone ethics questions and provided advice and written ethics advisory opinions to attorneys throughout the state. In addition, as staff liaison to the Ethics Committee of the Bar, she drafted proposed formal ethics opinions for consideration by the Ethics Committee. She also served as staff counsel to the Professionalism Committee of the State Bar, tasked with the creation of the North Carolina Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism. In private practice, Deanna provides ethics advice and compliance counseling; drafts employment, fee, and other agreements; reviews attorney advertisements and websites; and assists attorneys in preparing responses to State Bar Grievances.

    Deanna has also published articles for the Ethics Page of the State Bar's Journal and Attorney at Law magazine, among other publications, and has lectured at continuing legal education seminars sponsored by Lawyer's Mutual Liability Insurance Company, the American Bar Association, and the North Carolina Bar Association, among others. She is a member of the Wake County Bar Association, the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers, and the Small Firm and Technology Section of the North Carolina Bar Association. She formerly served as Chair of the Law Practice Management and Technology Section of the Bar Association.

    Deanna earned her B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law.

    Click here for more information about Deanna.

  • Sharon Crabbe

    Sharon Crabbe is the Manager, Financial Crimes at First Citizens Bank in Raleigh. She handles investigations related to a variety of fraud incidents on behalf of the Bank to include check fraud, cyber fraud and identity theft, assisting customers across the US. She has been employed by First Citizens Bank for 26 years and has worked in the fraud prevention and investigations area for 23 years.

    Click here for more information about Sharon.

  • Stephanie C. Crosby

    Stephanie C. Crosby is the Business Paralegal with Ward and Smith PA in New Bern. She has extensive experience in all business related legal matters including formation, maintenance, and dissolution of entities, mergers and acquisitions, housing authority redevelopment and complex lending transactions.

    In addition, Stephanie assists attorneys with matters involving the Internal Revenue Service, North Carolina Department of Revenue, and various statewide regulatory boards including the North Carolina Medical Board. She is a regular speaker on business law matters to paralegals and paralegal students and is an active leader in the legal profession, serving in a number of statewide leadership roles.

    Stephanie is a Past Chair of the Paralegal Division of the North Carolina Bar Association; a member of the Membership Recruitment & Retention Committee; the Paralegal Division Membership Chair; a member of the Lawyer Effectiveness and Quality of Life Committee, and on the Board of Directors of BarCARES of North Carolina, Inc. She served as the Co-Chair of the 4ALL Statewide Service Day for 2013 and 2014. Stephanie earned the North Carolina Bar Association Distinguished Paralegal Award in 2012.

    Stephanie earned her B.A. in Economics from Sewanee – The University of the South.

    Click here for more information about Stephanie.

  • 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.

  • Tiffany M. Lòpez

    Tiffany M. Lòpez is the Director of Library and Research Services at Smith Anderson Blount Dorsett Mitchell & Jernigan LLP in Raleigh. She has over 12 years of combined legal and library experience and is responsible for the strategic development of Smith Anderson's online and print collections, research services, and training for all practice groups.

    Tiffany joined Smith Anderson in 2012 and prior to that, she coordinated a national network of 27 research libraries.

    Tiffany earned her B.A. in Minority Studies from the University of Alabama and her Master of Library Science, cum laude, from North Carolina Central University.

    Click here for more information about Tiffany.

  • Sidney O. Minter

    Sidney O. Minter is Of Counsel at Advance Auto Parts in Raleigh. In this role, he provides advice, counsel and risk management support to key stakeholders, including senior executives and human resources professionals.

    Prior to joining Advance, Sidney was an attorney in the Raleigh office of Jackson Lewis PC. During his career, he has exclusively represented management in a wide range of industries. He has litigated matters relating to wage and hour law, workplace safety law, and workers' compensation. His bread-and-butter, however, is handling complex matters arising under Title VII.

    Sidney is on the Board of Governors for the North Carolina Bar Association and North Carolina Bar Foundation. He has been named a "Rising Star" in Labor and Employment law by Super Lawyers and named as "Legal Elite" by Business North Carolina. He is an avid speaker, moderator and guest on podcasts.

    Sidney earned his B.A. in Politial Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, M.A. in Public Administration, summa cum laude, from High Point University and his J.D., cum laude, from North Carolina Central University School of Law.

    Click here for more information about Sidney.

  • 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.

  • Matthew M. "Matt" Villmer

    Matthew M. "Matt" Villmer is an attorney and Managing Partner at Villmer Caudill PLLC in Charlotte. His legal practice focuses on new business startup & business law, mediation, and litigation & arbitration. Over the last 13 years, thousands of business owners have sought Matt's guidance in forming, growing, and selling their businesses.

    In addition to the practice of law, Matt loves to help passionate entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level through education and professional growth. He is a regular guest speaker at industry conferences around the U.S., where he teaches others about the use of customer agreements, the importance of having a written contract between co-owners of a business, and other similar topics. He also teaches other attorneys throughout the country about advanced litigation techniques and strategies to prevail in high-stakes lawsuits.

    Matt was the previous Managing Partner of a law firm with 10 lawyers and a 50-year operating history. The firm had a law library with dusty books, sun-faded paintings of men on horses with hunting dogs hung on the walls, and paper files and invoices. He transitioned the firm to the 21st century, and then in Jan 2022, he launched Villmer Caudill, PLLC—an all-remote firm in Charlotte with 6 lawyers and a Firm Administrator.

    Matt earned his B.A. from Western Kentucky University and his J.D., magna cum laude, from Florida Coastal School of Law, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Florida Coastal Law Review.

    Click here for more information about Matt.

  • Amanda White

    Amanda White is a paralegal at The Green Firm PLLC in Charlotte. She supports all aspects of the firm's appellate litigation practice and assists with firm administration and technology.

    Prior to entering the legal field, Amanda worked in admissions roles in higher education at the University of Maryland and Catholic University of America. Through that experience, she developed invaluable research, problem-solving, and writing skills.

    Amanda earned her B.A. degree in public relations at York College. She recently earned her post-baccalaureate paralegal diploma at Central Piedmont Community College.

    Click here for more information about Amanda.

Bronze Sponsor

If you did not attend this program in its entirety, please fill out a partial credit form to ensure that we report your credit accurately.

Please send your completed form to within seven days of this program.

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If paying by check, click here for a printable registration form. Please reference the in-person live program code 193PDM.

Can't attend in person? Please contact us at or 919.677.0561 to switch your registration to the Live Webcast before the start of the program.

(After the live CLE program begins, you will have real-time access to only the program format for which you are registered — either In-Person Live or Live Webcast — and your registration cannot be switched.)
May 5, 2023
Fri 8:25 AM EDT
North Carolina Bar Center 8000 Weston Parkway Cary, NC 27511 919.677.0561

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Duration 8H 15M

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