Nicole Barwick serves as a paralegal for C. Gray Johnsey at North Carolina's White & Allen, P.A. White & Allen is a full-service law firm with three offices in Snow Hill, Kinston, and New Bern. Ms. Barwick specializes in estate planning, estate administration, and corporate/tax law. She was recently featured in The Daily Reflector
for becoming a North Carolina certified paralegal
Ms. Barwick was born and raised in Kinston, N.C. She graduated from South Lenoir High School in 2004. Ms. Barwick attended Pitt Community College and earned her associates in Applied Science in Paralegal Technology in May 2013.
When she isn't working, Ms. Barwick enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, going to the beach, and playing with her two year old pit bull, Dozer. She is currently reading John Grisham's Sycamore Row
. Ms. Barwick also enjoys reading the works of James Patterson. She is a frequent visitor of New Bern's Morgan's Tavern & Grill. Ms. Barwick claimed, "They have a spinach and cream cheese lasagna that is to die for."
Ms. Barwick's Successful Career
Why did Ms.Barwick decide to become a paralegal
? She asserted:
"I have always had an intense interest in law. I actually had no idea what a paralegal was until I did some research about professions in law, other than being an attorney. After researching what a paralegal does on a daily basis, I began looking for paralegal programs in my area. Luckily, Pitt Community College offers an AAS degree in Paralegal Technology. I was able to make the daily commute to campus in only about 40 minutes. Once I began the program, I knew I had chosen the right career path. Every class was interesting to me in its own way."
What advice would she give to someone who's brand-new to her position? Ms. Barwick noted:
"The advice I would give to someone who is brand new to any paralegal position is to have patience and that you will learn as you go. You can't expect to start as a new paralegal and know everything. While the paralegal program I went through laid an excellent foundation, it takes a lot of time and experience to feel completely confident in your particular area of practice. You will make mistakes, but make sure you learn from them. Most importantly, make sure you give 100% on any case, project, or anything that is presented to you by your supervising attorney. They will notice and appreciate your effort."
What does Ms. Barwick think are the keys to becoming a successful paralegal
? "The keys to becoming a successful paralegal are: 1. Having a strong work ethic. 2. Paying attention to detail. 3. Going above and beyond what you are asked to do. 4. Maintaining a good relationship with clients."
What's one of the things that she finds most challenging about her job? Ms. Barwick acknowledged:
"One of the most challenging things about being a paralegal is staying within your scope of practice. It can be very tempting to try and answer questions presented by a client because you want them to know you are knowledgeable in your particular field. It is always important to really think about a question before answering it because by answering you may be giving legal advice that you are not qualified to give. Whenever I am in doubt about answering a particular question, I always tell the client that I can't answer that question, but I will speak with an attorney to find out the answer for them.
One other challenging, but also rewarding part of my job is interacting with clients who have recently lost a loved one. Obviously I come across this quite frequently when doing Estate Administration. It is difficult to not get emotional sometimes with clients as you try to help them through the process of handling their deceased loved one's affairs. Yet, at the same time, by the time you are finished helping the client administer the estate and wrap things up, they are so appreciative for you helping guide them through the process. That's definitely the rewarding part."
What would Ms. Barwick say is the most important thing she has learned as a paralegal? She admitted:
"The most important thing I have learned so far as a paralegal is that details matter. I did not realize how true this was until I began working with estate planning documents and seeing the attention to detail my supervising attorney puts into his work. It is imperative to check and re-check your work to make sure everything is in order. We have a process of proofing our estate planning documents before a draft copy is sent to our clients. Not only does my attorney draft the document, but he reads every single word to make sure not one comma is out of place. After he checks the document, he has me or his other paralegal do the same. Every document is read in its entirety at least two times before a client ever sees a 'draft' copy."
What is the best part of her job? "The best part about my job is being able to help clients with matters that they would not have been able to handle on their own. They are so grateful to have someone to help them, and most clients express it every time they are in our office."
What is Ms. Barwick's favorite part of her day as a paralegal? She stated:
"One of my favorite parts of the day is when my supervising attorneys (Mr. Johnsey and Mr. Purnell) and my co-worker (Angie) have our morning meetings. Every day we sit down in Mr. Johnsey's office and we review the day ahead. Mr. Johnsey will update us on the files he has done work in and what we can expect to be working on that day. We always discuss work that was done the previous day and what its status is. He also asks all of us what we are currently working on. I really like this because I think it is a wonderful way for our team to be aware of what is going on and we all pull together and help each other if needed. As a new paralegal, this time is also beneficial to me because if I have any questions about anything, Mr. Johnsey makes sure to take the sufficient time needed to explain the answer to me."
If she were not in this profession, what would she most probably be doing? "I honestly can't see myself doing anything else. I really love my job."
Where does Ms. Barwick see herself in five years time? "I fully intend to be at White & Allen, P.A. in the Corporate Division in the next five years. I have been fortunate enough to find a wonderful job with wonderful attorneys and paralegals."
What motivates her to be a paralegal everyday? "I love what I do and I have a wonderful team to work with. That in itself makes it very easy to be motivated as a paralegal."
Future Mentor, Being Inspired by Her Husband and Being Recognized by The Daily Reflector
Does Ms. Barwick consider herself a mentor? "I wouldn't say that I consider myself a mentor yet. I am relatively new to the profession, but I hope to one day be a mentor to a paralegal who is just starting out. I have excellent mentors whom I work with, and I hope to gain as much knowledge as they have so that one day I can guide new paralegals as much as they have guided me."
Has anyone inspired her? "The main person who has inspired me is my husband, Chad. He is a Registered Nurse (R.N.) and I watched him go through nursing school while we were dating. I saw his love for the profession while he was in school. Once he started working, he amazed me at how knowledgeable and efficient he was at his job. This motivated me to find a career path that I was just as passionate about."
Ms. Barwick was recently featured in The Daily Reflector
. How does it feel to be recognized for becoming a North Carolina Certified Paralegal? She replied:
"It feels great to be recognized for becoming a North Carolina Certified Paralegal. I would fully encourage anyone who is thinking of becoming a paralegal to do all that they can to become certified or take any kind of specialization exam that is offered to them. It will make you more assertive in your work as well as give you the knowledge to succeed in your specific area of law."
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