Noelle LeBlanc describes her younger self as a petite, painfully shy little girl who toughened up after leaving her Richmond, Virginia home for the first time and taking her first airplane trip to join the U.S. Air Force. Her family was shocked when she shipped off to military boot camp at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas for basic training. She was a brave 18-year-old, standing at 4'11" and weighing 90 pounds. "It was during those grueling weeks of training that my shy barrier came down and revealed an untapped spirit of fearlessness, boldness, confidence, dedication and determination," she says.
She went on to serve in Fairbanks, Alaska where she excelled at her job, and met and married her husband, who is a law enforcement officer. She put herself through college, earning degrees in paralegal studies and criminal justice. She is senior litigation paralegal with Lincoln Derr in Charlotte. A grandmother, whose grandkids call her "Gigi," LeBlanc maintains the intense disposition and fearlessness that earned her the nickname "Little General."
Describe your current job. What attracted you to that position?
I currently work as a defense litigation paralegal specializing in tort cases ranging from business to medical malpractice work. I previously worked for a large southeastern law firm in the patent litigation area with trial work across the country. When I was approached 10 years ago to assist with the start-up of a boutique women-owned law firm in south Charlotte, I jumped at the chance to help build something unique in an otherwise traditionally male-dominated arena.
What motivates you to get up and go to work in the mornings?
The knowledge that I am helping others. Litigation is an intensely stressful and adversarial process with many of our clients facing lawsuits that are both personally and professionally challenging. Being able to tell our clients that we are here to not only aggressively defend them, but that it's our job to take over the stress and worry of their case with the goal of achieving justice and vindication is extremely rewarding.
What skill set or knowledge would you like to add to your repertoire to make you a better paralegal and why?
As a trial litigation paralegal who is responsible for assisting with jury selections, I would love to enhance my knowledge and skills related to the study of human behavior including the interpretation of body language, dress and other elusive cues.
Describe your desktop.
OCD-tidy would be an accurate description of my desktop and organization habits. My firm is a "paperless office," and we diligently strive to use technology in such a way that makes us both more efficient and better stewards of the environment. Thus, it is a rarity to have any paper on my desk. I simply have lots of family photographs and my favorite sign that reads: "They call me Gigi because I'm too cool to be Grandma!"
Reflecting on your teenage years, what is the most important lesson you learned?
Never make decisions from a place of fear. I had to learn the hard way that fear either paralyzes and hinders you or negatively influences your ability to make wise decisions. My biggest regrets in my early life came from fear driving my decisions.
If you were not a paralegal, what type of profession would you enjoy?
A writer. The freedom to inspire and influence others through the written word and be paid to do so would be a dream.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I absolutely love to travel. Experiencing different cuisine, culture, and history is stimulating, and there is nothing better in my world than exploring new things and places with my husband. One of my most favorite adventures was a mission trip back in 2005 to Zambia, Africa. It was simply life-changing. When I'm not traveling or spending time with my family, I write a weekly faith blog, and I'm a digital outreach mentor with Focus on the Family.
Article originally published in North Carolina Lawyers Weekly Magazine, July, 2019
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