Why choose the UNC Charlotte Paralegal Certificate Program?
• Interview Practicum: Students hear valuable interview techniques from a professional legal interviewer, receive advice on resumes and portfolios, and have mock interviews for a fictional law firm.
• A set schedule ensuring a definite graduation date.
• Complete the Certificate in only 6 months.
• Materials upon which we can stake our reputation. Class curriculum is designed by instructors that are experts in their field.
• Strong ties to the Charlotte legal community. Many of our graduates find jobs in Charlotte; our instructors work in Charlotte and we are affiliated with Charlotte, state, and national organizations.
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is proud to offer a Paralegal Certificate program like no other in the city of Charlotte. Our program is topical, intensive, and intellectually rigorous. We designed it to fit the needs of the Charlotte legal and business communities. Our goal is to equip our graduates with the skills, knowledge, and abilities they need to embark on their careers with professionalism and acumen.
Our Program combines 167 hours of classroom instruction with 73 hours of structured instructional activities that are designed to be completed online or through other methods outside of class.
Graduates will earn a UNC Charlotte Paralegal Program Certificate. Continuing Education transcripts will document the awarding of the Certificate and a letter grade in each of the program's seven core courses as well as in the General Practice segment of the program.
All UNC Charlotte Paralegal Certificate Program students will have access to the Charlotte School of Law Library (www.charlottelaw.org) for Legal Research and Writing. Specific hours of access will be announced in class. All students will also receive a personal LexisNexis account.
Individual Academic and Career Advising. It is important that students are able to build a rapport with their instructors and the program director. Students will also have the opportunity to have three advisory meetings with the program director, in order to ensure their needs and goals are being met.
Job Posting Board.In addition, students enrolled in the program, and program graduates, are eligible for password-protected access to the UNC Charlotte Continuing Education LinkedIn group which lists job postings we receive from area employers. While UNC Charlotte does not offer job placement services, area employers are encouraged by the Paralegal Program Director to list their paralegal-related job openings on our LinkedIn page. The program makes this service available to employers free-of-charge in order to provide our students with up-to-date information about these employment opportunities.Legal Writing Lab. We believe excellent writing is an essential paralegal skill. Therefore, the UNC Charlotte Paralegal Certificate Program has made a commitment to its students by offering additional instruction with our legal writing instructors. In these labs, students will have the opportunity to receive candid feedback and helpful insight on ways to improve their writing.
Click here to view the members of our Advisory Board.
In the first part of the certificate, students will receive comprehensive training in Core Paralegal Skills: American Jurisprudence; Legal Research; Legal Writing; Legal Technology; Litigation; Legal Ethics; and The Paralegal Profession.
The last weeks of the certificate provide intensive, focused training in the General Practice,which will provide an overview of Criminal Law, Family Law, Wills, Trusts & Estates, Commercial Law, and Real Property.
General Practice Law (Criminal Law, Family Law, Wills, Trusts & Estates, Real Property, Commercial Law)
Objectives -Students will receive intensive, concentrated instruction in the area, focusing on sources of law, legal terminology, jurisdictional issues, practical skills, document management, and recognition factors integral to that area of the law. The emphasis will be on practical skills and applications; however, students will learn enough theory to be intelligent and contributing members of legal teams.
Skills -- Students will have sufficient knowledge of the underlying legal principles of the specialty to intelligently and effectively perform functions necessary and appropriate in the legal specialty. They will acquire the ability to locate and complete the appurtenant paperwork; communicate with the proper courts and government agencies, identify the appropriate sources of law; follow developments in the law of their specialty; and identify associations and organizations offering support, education, and guidance within their specialty.
Objectives - Students will study the ABA Rules of Professional Responsibility, the North Carolina Revised Rules of Professional Conduct, and case law dealing with paralegals’ ethical, legal, and professional obligations. The course will emphasize those elements of the Rules that particularly affect paralegals: unauthorized practice of law, advocacy, competence, and diligence.
Skills -Students will be able to: apply principles of professional ethics to specific fact situations; understand the paralegal’s role in the delivery of legal services; conduct research and utilize other resources to find answers to ethical dilemmas.
- The regulation of attorney and paralegal conduct
- Conflicts of interest
- Handling of client funds
- Reporting requirements
- Unauthorized practice of law
- Disciplinary proceedings
Objectives- This hands-on course will introduce students to the various technologies available to legal professionals.
Skills- Students will be able to: identify the various technological products available and select the most appropriate ones for a given situation; use and apply important legal technology; use litigation support technology and case management software; use the Internet for research; use e-mail and understand the legal and ethical implications of email.
- Adobe Acrobat Pro
- Electronic Discovery
- Electronic Courtroom
- Electronic Filing
- Law Office Technology
- Electronic research: LexisNexis and the Internet
- Case management technologies
The Paralegal Profession
Objectives - Students will learn about the day-to-day operations of a typical law office, and the paralegal’s role within it. The course will cover law office mechanics, law office culture, and professional etiquette and will prepare students to confidently enter the legal world knowing they possess the technical and social savvy they require.
|Paralegal participant involved in
a mock interview.
Skills - Interact effectively in person and in writing with paralegals, lawyers, judges, court personnel, clients, and witnesses; tactfully and diplomatically adapt to various situations, deal effectively with various personalities; work independently; understand the need to seek guidance when necessary; accept supervision and guidance; be an effective part of a legal team; multi-task; prioritize time and resources; understand management principles; understand billing, accounting systems, and other administrative systems; understand record-keeping and filing systems; identify the various types of legal environments.
- Definition of a paralegal and overview of paralegal duties
- Certification and regulation of paralegals
- File maintenance
- Tickler and calendaring systems
- Billable hours
- Professional comportment
- Law office etiquette
- Large case management
- Automated litigation support
- Paralegal associations
- How to write resumes and cover letters
- Job search strategies
- Mock interview
Introduction to American Jurisprudence
Objectives - Students will gain an understanding of the American legal system’s structure and substance, and understand how the various elements of the system work together. They will learn legal terminology, gain an understanding of the major legal instruments, and explore sources of law.
Skills - Students will be able to identify interrelationships among cases, statutes, constitutions, regulations, and other legal authorities; use legal terminology correctly; identify the proper forum and identify the proper source of law for a given fact situation.
- State, Federal, Appellate, Small Claims, and Specialty Courts
- Sources of Law: Common Law; Statutory Law; Administrative Regulations; Constitutions
- Branches of Law: Criminal; Civil; Probate; Domestic Relations
- Legal Terminology
- A brief overview of the Concentration course: General Practice (Criminal Law, Family Law, and Estates & Trusts)
Course Objectives - Students acquire the basic techniques of legal research and learn to find and use statutes, cases, and secondary sources using the law library and electronic legal research tools LexisNexis and Westlaw.
Skills - Students will acquire the ability to apply critical thinking, organizational, and communication skills; prepare and execute a legal research plan; find, evaluate, and apply print and electronic sources of law.
- Case Analysis and Reasoning: finding a case that is on point; understanding the difference between binding authority, persuasive authority, and dicta; distinguishing unfavorable cases
- Primary sources: statutes; case law; administrative regulations; constitutions
- Secondary sources: encyclopedias; treatises; law reviews; digests
- Cite checking
- Methods of compiling legislative histories
- Administrative and international legal research
Objectives - Students will then apply the research skills they acquire in Legal Research to the task of writing various legal documents, including memoranda, motions, pleadings, briefs, discovery requests, notices, and correspondence.
Skills - Students will acquire the ability to apply critical thinking, organizational, and communication skills; use proper English grammar and spelling; acquire a clear and effective writing style; locate and modify standardized forms; apply or distinguish precedent to a given fact situation; use proper citation form; draft legal documents and correspondence
- Case Analysis and Reasoning: finding a case that is on point; understanding the difference between binding authority, persuasive authority, and dicta; distinguishing unfavorable cases
- Writing letters, law office briefs, court briefs, and other legal documents
- Blue Book citation form
- Legal forms
Objectives - Students will learn the fundamentals of bringing and defending against a lawsuit with heavy emphasis on the critical roles paralegals play. Students will follow a case as it progresses from the initial client interview, to conducting an investigation, researching the cause of action, choosing a forum, filing and responding to pleadings and motions, drafting discovery requests and responses, filing notices of depositions, preparing for depositions, digesting deposition transcripts, locating and preparing witnesses, filing subpoenas, preparing releases and other dispositional documents, and filing notice of appeal.
This course will also acquaint students with the various litigation support services available to them. Students will learn how they can employ various services and technologies in their roles as litigation support specialists. They will learn what roles each of the services can play, how to choose from among myriad resources, and how to effectively use those services they have chosen.
Skills - As students move through the stages of litigation, they will acquire the ability to: Analyze problems and identify and evaluate alternative solutions; construct and assess legal arguments; determine which area of law applies to a specific problem; identify and locate witnesses; conduct effective interviews and investigations; prepare releases and use other methods to find and acquire information.
- Stages of Litigation
- Client Contact and Interviewing Techniques
- Informal Fact-Gathering Techniques
- Evaluation of Evidence in Light of the Rules of Evidence
- Discovery Preparation and Coordination
- Trial Notebooks
- Lay and Expert Witnesses
And the following Litigation Support Topics:
- Presentation Specialists
- Litigation Consultants
- Reprographic Services
- Document Management
- Court Reporting
- Private Investigators
- Research Services
- Title and Title Insurance Companies
- Staffing Agencies
The Paralegal Profession
The paralegal profession is dynamic and rewarding. Paralegals in the Charlotte metropolitan region work in all areas of the law, from bankruptcy to real estate, criminal law, family law and medical malpractice. They work in law firms, corporate offices, universities, research institutes, government agencies, courts, real estate offices, patent offices, banks, and virtually every other business, legal, or educational setting. The mean annual salary for Paralegals in the Charlotte region, according to the May 2009 Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $44,040. The average salary for North Carolina is $41,100 (Adapted from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics May, 2009 on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nc.htm#23-0000, visited July 15, 2010 ).
Although lawyers assume ultimate responsibility for legal work, they often delegate many of their tasks to paralegals. In fact, paralegals—also called legal assistants—are continuing to assume new responsibilities in legal offices and perform many of the same tasks as lawyers. Nevertheless, they are explicitly prohibited from carrying out duties considered to be within the scope of practice of law, such as setting legal fees, giving legal advice, and presenting cases in court.
One of a paralegal's most important tasks is helping lawyers prepare for closings, hearings, trials, and corporate meetings. Paralegals might investigate the facts of cases and ensure that all relevant information is considered. They also identify appropriate laws, judicial decisions, legal articles, and other materials that are relevant to assigned cases. After they analyze and organize the information, paralegals may prepare written reports that attorneys use in determining how cases should be handled. If attorneys decide to file lawsuits on behalf of clients, paralegals may help prepare the legal arguments, draft pleadings and motions to be filed with the court, obtain affidavits, and assist attorneys during trials. Paralegals also organize and track files of all important case documents and make them available and easily accessible to attorneys.
In addition to this preparatory work, paralegals perform a number of other functions. For example, they help draft contracts, mortgages, and separation agreements. They also may assist in preparing tax returns, establishing trust funds, and planning estates. Some paralegals coordinate the activities of other law office employees and maintain financial office records.
Computer software packages and the Internet are used to search legal literature stored in computer databases and on CD-ROM. In litigation involving many supporting documents, paralegals usually use computer databases to retrieve, organize, and index various materials. Imaging software allows paralegals to scan documents directly into a database, while billing programs help them to track hours billed to clients. Computer software packages also are used to perform tax computations and explore the consequences of various tax strategies for clients.
As the law becomes more complex, paralegals become more specialized. Within specialties, functions are often broken down further. For example, paralegals specializing in labor law may concentrate exclusively on employee benefits. In small and medium-size law firms, duties are often more general.
The tasks of paralegals differ widely according to the type of organization for which they work. Corporate paralegals often assist attorneys with employee contracts, shareholder agreements, stock-option plans, and employee benefit plans. They also may help prepare and file annual financial reports, maintain corporate minutes' record resolutions, and prepare forms to secure loans for the corporation. Corporate paralegals often monitor and review government regulations to ensure that the corporation is aware of new requirements and is operating within the law. Increasingly, experienced corporate paralegals or paralegal managers are assuming additional supervisory responsibilities, such as overseeing team projects.
The duties of paralegals who work in the public sector usually vary by agency. In general, litigation paralegals analyze legal material for internal use, maintain reference files, conduct research for attorneys, and collect and analyze evidence for agency hearings. They may prepare informative or explanatory material on laws, agency regulations, and agency policy for general use by the agency and the public. Paralegals employed in community legal-service projects help the poor, the aged, and others who are in need of legal assistance. They file forms, conduct research, prepare documents, and, when authorized by law, may represent clients at administrative hearings. (Adapted from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Paralegals and Legal Assistants, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos114.htm, Visited July 15, 2010)
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of paralegals and legal assistant jobs to grow 28% between 2008 and 2016. Paralegals and legal assistants held about 263,800 jobs in 2008. Some employment growth stems from law firms and other employers with legal staffs increasingly hiring paralegals to lower the cost and increase the availability and efficiency of legal services. Highly skilled, formally trained paralegals have excellent employment potential.
The business cycle affects paralegal jobs to a limited extent. The decline in demand for discretionary legal services during times of recession is offset by the fact that employers hire more paralegals, who provide many of the same legal services as lawyers at a lower cost, during these periods. Paralegals tend to fare relatively better in difficult economic conditions. The demand for paralegals will tend to be towards bankruptcy, medical malpractice, product liability, intellectual property, healthcare, international law, elder issues, criminal law, and environmental law.
To a limited extent, paralegal jobs are affected by the business cycle. During recessions, demand declines for some discretionary legal services, such as planning estates, drafting wills, and handling real estate transactions. Corporations are less inclined to initiate certain types of litigation when falling sales and profits lead to fiscal belt tightening. As a result, full-time paralegals employed in offices adversely affected by a recession may be laid off or have their work hours reduced. However, during recessions, corporations and individuals are more likely to face problems that require legal assistance, such as bankruptcies, foreclosures, and divorces. Paralegals, who provide many of the same legal services as lawyers at a lower cost, tend to fare relatively better in difficult economic conditions. (Adapted from Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Paralegals and Legal Assistants, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos114.htm, Visited July 15, 2010).
UNC Charlotte Paralegal Success StoriesMary A. Cooper
Litigation Paralegal at The Schiller Law Firm
After being a student in the UNCC Paralegal Certificate Program for only 4 of the 6 months of the program, I was able to successfully gain employment as a Litigation Paralegal at The Schiller Law Firm located in Rock Hill, South Carolina. This detailed program prepared and equipped me with the necessary skills to be successful. Because of such great instructors who are well known paralegals, attorneys, and judges in the area, as well as, surrounding areas, I was able to begin my career knowing the following: how to compose a motion, the correct way to conduct legal research, how to prepare a legal memorandum, effective case briefing, how to draft a complaint and summons, how to properly communicate with clients, the system firms use to remain organize such as Amicus, etc. I could go on for days about how effective the UNCC PCP program can be to individuals interested in a career as a paralegal. Thanks to Janeene and the awesome program she directs, I have an enjoyable career and can actually see my growth since entering the program.
Erica Romain, UNC Chapel Hill School of Law, Class of 2014
I am so grateful for the UNC Charlotte Paralegal Certificate program. I really feel like I came to law school with a great foundation and I think that attending the paralegal program helped me to make the transition.
Aboubacar S. Coulibaly
Future Canadian Attorney
One of my objectives, as an African lawyer that specialized in the Civil Law “Business Option”, was to acquire the principles and mechanisms of the American Legal System. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Paralegal Certificate Program helped me to not only reach this goal, but it also opened the door of the Quebec bar. I am now in the process of becoming an attorney in Quebec (Canada), where the legal system is a combination of the Civil Law and Common Law system. I am grateful to Janeene Humphrey, the Program Director, for her dynamism and her contribution for this achievement. I am also thankful to all instructors of the program (“CHAPEAU A JUDGE DIAZ,” you are the man).
Quintina Harrington, NCCP
Crawford Law Office, PC
Member, NC BAR ASSOCIATION-PARALEGAL DIVISION
Since graduation, I have been promoted from legal assistant to paralegal at Crawford Law Office, PC. I sat for the NCCP exam in October 2008 and earned the NCCP designation. Even though I have several years of legal experience, I gained a wealth of knowledge from this course. I would recommend this program, enthusiastically, to anyone desiring to gain employment in this field. You truly have an exceptional program. I’m glad I chose UNC Charlotte.
Paralegal at Brinkley Walser PLLC
Third Place Winner of the NC Paralegal Association’s 2008 Student Essay Scholarship
I successfully gained full-time employment within 2 weeks of finishing the UNCC Paralegal Certification courses. I started out working for 15 hours a week as an intern at Brinkley Walser, PLLC in Lexington, NC for about three months and then because of recent changes in the office, there was an open position for a Legal Assistant that I successfully acquired. I work for three attorneys and do a number of different things ranging from estate planning, medicaid planning, general corporate work, collections, litigation, and real estate. I really think that the Paralegal Course was extremely helpful to me right out of college, because I never had a professional job to rely on, when working in the legal field. Just knowing the terms and what to expect was extremely important to my success. I would suggest to anyone to get an internship or to get experience in a law office before looking for a job. It changed my whole perspective on what I wanted, and what I was looking for in a job and prospective attorneys. Joining a Paralegal Association was also very helpful and even fun. The yearly seminar taught me a lot, and I got to know a lot of great people; networking is key!
Paralegal atWomble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice
I obtained a job through the job postings board at Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice at their Case Management Facility in Winston-Salem where I am a paralegal. I am enjoying what I do. I remember things from class everyday, as I go through my work. The Paralegal Certificate Program was very helpful and informative, and was the right choice to make at that time right after college.
Paralegal with the Federal Defender’s of Western North Carolina
I thoroughly enjoy working for the Federal Defender's office, and learned an enormous amount about federal criminal law over the past year.
I obtained my job by responding to an offer to come in to visit the office for a tour, and while I was there, I offered to listen to about 100 hours of audio tapes for a case that was coming up within the next two weeks. Following that offer, I agreed to work as an intern for several months to learn more about how to function as a paralegal, and then was offered permanent employment. So, encouraging those taking classes now to be a little bit assertive and not assume there isn't a place for you in an organization. Sometimes, if you can get a toe in the door and perform well, jobs miraculously become available.
J. Erin Gross
Bush Ross, P.A. (Tampa, Florida)
Legal Assistant to the Chair of the Bankruptcy Department and Trademark Legal Assistant
I absolutely love this job and the firm that I am working at. I couldn't have dreamed of a more perfect fit for me, when I moved to Tampa last year. This August 31, I will be with Bush Ross for one year!
I am so glad that I was a part of the UNC Charlotte Paralegal Program! I learned so many things that when I started my job (fresh out of the Program) I had a very small learning curve. I had excellent reviews from my bosses and received a pay raise percentage that is rarely given to Legal Assistants who have been with the Firm less than one year. I excel at my position and because of the Program's concentration portion; I was able to gain more responsibility by becoming the trademark legal assistant in addition to my bankruptcy responsibilities. The instructors of the Program taught viable information that I would have otherwise not known. I highly recommend this Paralegal Program and all that it has to offer!
What is The North Carolina State Bar approved plan for Certification of Paralegals?
The North Carolina State Bar Board of Paralegal Certification has designated the UNC Charlotte Paralegal Certificate Program a qualified paralegal studies program. Graduation from the Certificate Program will satisfy the educational requirements for certification as a paralegal by the Board; graduates will be eligible to sit for the exam to become Certified Paralegals.
The North Carolina State Bar has established a voluntary North Carolina certification program with requirements that are properly defined and that will ensure the credential has value. The North Carolina certification plan will assist lawyers and administrators in distinguishing paralegals that meet or exceed the skills required for certification. For more information, please visit http://www.nccertifiedparalegal.org
Paralegals who have graduated from an approved program and passed the examination may use the following designations:
- North Carolina Certified Paralegal
- North Carolina Bar Certified Paralegal
- Paralegal Certified by the North Carolina State Bar Board of Paralegal Certification
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is an official test site for the North Carolina Certified Paralegal Exam. For more information about the exam, please visit http://www.nccertifiedparalegal.org/becoming.asp.
The Paralegal Certificate Program is for people in pursuit of a second career, recent college graduates and working professionals who want to enter the legal field, and working paralegals who want to obtain a North Carolina State Bar-qualified paralegal certificate from an accredited University.
An associate's degree is required for admission to the program. You will need to submit a transcript documenting the awarding of your undergraduate degree either with your registration or as soon as possible thereafter. We will not be able to confirm your registration in the program until we have received your transcript. An unofficial transcript is acceptable.
Students are required to be proficient in their oral and written use of the English language. The program also requires that students have basic computer and technology skills. The following are tasks that it is assumed students in the program are able to complete:
- Attach a document and open an attachment in e-mail
- Open, create, format, and save Microsoft Word files
- Print word process files and web pages
- Load and access files and programs from a CD-ROM
- Use a Web browser (Internet Explorer or Firefox)
- Use an online search engine (e.g., Google) for general web searches
- Download and install various plug-ins as needed
Some classes in the program will be conducted in a computer lab. However, in order to participate fully in the program, a participant will need individual, extended, and convenient access -- outside of class -- to a basic technology package. At the first class session, students will receive a comprehensive overview and introduction to all aspects of the program. The overview will include a technical orientation to technology-based systems that students will need to use to complete out-of-class and online structured instructional activities. The orientation will not cover the basic computer skills listed above under Prerequisites, but it will ensure that before beginning the program, students are familiar with the program-specific uses of technology that will be required for their success.
Additional Information Required from Admitted Students:
Following admission to the program, each student is required to submit additional items that will help us provide individually-based academic and career counseling throughout the program. The following items must be submitted to the Program’s Director no later than one week prior to the program’s first class. Items can be submitted as Word documents, transmitted via e-mail to email@example.com.
- A standard professional résumé, which includes a summary of your educational and work experiences and skills.
- An essay addressing the following two questions. (Note: The essay should be between 750 and 1,500 words.)
- “Tell us about your background and why you want to be a paralegal.”
- “What do you hope to do with your paralegal certificate?”
A good essay will 1) follow the prescribed format, 2) have specific and coherent ideas, and 3) contain no mechanical and grammatical errors.
Applies Towards the Following Certificates
- Paralegal Certificate : Required