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Patricia F. Clapper: Paralegal, Levine & Stewart, Chapel Hill, NC [By Judith Earley] For paralegal Patricia Clapper, the best part of her job is that there’s never a dull moment. She makes the daily 45-minute commute from Apex, NC, to Chapel Hill, where she works at Levine & Stewart, a general practice law firm. She said she enjoys working at a firm where she can handle a variety of different cases. “Every day brings a new and exciting challenge, sometimes more than one at a time,” said Clapper.

Clapper, who goes by Patti, has worked for

employer presented her with a 10-year

hours, or the irate clients, I am glad that I

Levine & Stewart for nearly 12 years. “We

service plaque in 2005. Additionally, she

can pass them off to him!” said Clapper.

literally handle everything except taxes

has served as Senior Editor, Treasurer,

and immigration,” said Clapper. “I handle

District Director, and, most recently,

Clapper’s advice for students preparing

all the non-real estate matters, all types

Annual Seminar Co-chair for the North

to become paralegals is to get an

of litigation-domestic, landlord/tenant,

Carolina Paralegal Association.

education, whether it’s a two-year or four-year program. “Strive to get your

contractor problems, personal injuries, estate planning, minor criminal offenses,

Based on her years working for plaintiffs’

national and state certifications, and use

and corporate matters.”

attorneys, Clapper said that she believes

the resources available to you through

that the most important issues facing

your local paralegal associations,” said

During her senior year of high school,

the law community are women’s rights

Clapper. “Some [associations], such as

Clapper said that she took a class in law

and their financial ability to obtain legal

the North Carolina Paralegal Association,

and justice because she thought she would

assistance-and the rights of plaintiffs. “The

offer student memberships. This is a great

be interested in law. “My grandmother

legislature just tried to pass laws to limit

way for you to meet other paralegals, ask

brought me an ad from Central Carolina

the rights of patients when it comes to

questions, and maybe even find a job.”

Community College about its paralegal

medical malpractice; however, they were

program. I knew I was going to pretty much

not successful. Why should doctors’ and

While Clapper enjoys her chosen career,

be putting myself through school, so a two-

insurance companies’ liability be limited

her true passion is North Carolina State

year program sounded like a great idea to

when they are responsible for an injury

Wolfpack sports. “My blood bleeds NC

me,” said Clapper.

to someone?” said Clapper. “And I would

State Wolfpack red. Ask me about my NC

[also] like to see more free or low-cost

State tattoo!” said Clapper. Also an ‘80s

Clapper describes paralegals as the glue

programs to help people who truly need an

music fan and a Scooby Doo trivia nut,

that holds everything together. “Some clients

attorney’s help to protect themselves.”

Clapper lives in Apex with her husband, Beanie; her two children, 12-year-old Evin

can be difficult because they think they are your only client and some just want someone

According to Clapper, membership in

and 9-year-old Carly; and their two cats,

to listen to them. I sometimes refer to this as

professional associations is an invaluable

Misty and Brandy.

‘babysitting.’ I also find myself ‘babysitting’

part of a paralegal’s career; and she

my boss a lot, keeping him on task, making

belongs to several. “The two biggest

sure he is calling clients back, and keeping

benefits to me are the friendships I have

deadlines. I know other paralegals face these

made and the resources available to me as

same challenges, it’s just part of the job,”

a member. Ten years ago, I hardly knew any

North Carolina State Wolfpack Sports

said Clapper.

paralegals. Now, through my involvement

www.gopack.com

ON THE NET

with the association, I have made new and Clapper was awarded her Certified

lasting friends,” said Clapper.

Paralegal certification from National

North Carolina Paralegal Association www.ncparalegal.org

Association of Legal Assistants in 1996,

Would Clapper do anything differently if

Advance Paralegal Certification in litigation

she could? “Sometimes I regret that I didn’t

National Association of Legal Assistants

from NALA in 2004, and her North Carolina

go to law school. But when I remember the

www.nala.org

State Bar Certification in 2006. Her

phone calls my boss gets at home after

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Patricia F. Clapper: Paralegal, Levine & Stewart, Chapel Hill, NC