This month, Bonnie Keen launched a new venture as a freelance paralegal and has begun marketing her services to lawyers in North Carolina and beyond. She credits many colleagues and mentors along the way with giving her the advice and experience it takes to venture out on her own.
“In my years as a deputy clerk of court, I have met many people across North Carolina who have become mentors,” she says. “This has allowed me to be part of a strong supportive group of professional leaders, including judges, attorneys, clerks and paralegals, who helped me believe in myself and be confident in becoming a freelance paralegal.”
Keen plans to expand her education and become an e-notary. She also looks forward to obtaining certificates in project management, marketing and bookkeeping and is creating a website to promote her services. She also plans to be active in the paralegal community and to seek opportunities to do pro bono work.
My career path: I am from Carteret County in eastern North Carolina, and later moved with my family to Abilene, Texas, because my dad was in the Air Force. We moved back to Beaufort, N.C., when I was 9 years old, and my best memories are the times I spent with my grandparents on the water fishing and swimming. I loved my granddad’s big fishing boat on the waterfront in Morehead City.
I went to college at East Carolina University, obtained my Bachelor of Science degree in environmental geography, and started my career in law as a deputy clerk of court in Carteret County in 2012. Later, I worked as a deputy clerk in Wake County and a courtroom clerk in Johnston County. I moved back to Carteret County to work as a legal assistant in the district attorney’s office until 2021, when I took a job as a paralegal at a family law firm and obtained my paralegal certificate from Johnston Community College. Last May, I became a North Carolina Bar certified paralegal.
Best aspects of being a paralegal: I think what I enjoy most about this profession are the many forms of legal research and drafting pleadings for different cases. I enjoy the different tasks that come with being a paralegal every day and the ability to be creative with organizing tasks to meet deadlines.
Paralegal superpower: One skill I can say that paralegals must possess is the ability to stay organized, identify pertinent information and prioritize an unorganized stack of different documents in a short amount of time.
My workday is great when … : All planned tasks for the day are carried out, and I have met or exceeded expectations.
In my spare time: I enjoy spending time with my family, daily exercise, reading and cooking. I also enjoy working on home improvement projects.