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Course Overview

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.

Course Outline

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.

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.

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.

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.

Topics include:

  • The regulation of attorney and paralegal conduct
  • Confidentiality
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Handling of client funds
  • Reporting requirements
  • Unauthorized practice of law
  • Disciplinary proceedings
  • Malpractice 

This hands-on course will introduce students to the various technologies available to legal professionals.   

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.

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.

Topics include: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

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.

Topics include:

  • 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.

Topics include:

  • 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
  • Shepardizing
  • 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

Topics include:

  • 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.

Topics include:

  • Stages of Litigation
  • Client Contact and Interviewing Techniques
  • Informal Fact-Gathering Techniques
  • Evaluation of Evidence in Light of the Rules of Evidence
  • Pleadings
  • Discovery Preparation and Coordination
  • Motions
  • Briefs
  • Trial Notebooks
  • Lay and Expert Witnesses

      And the following Litigation Support Topics:

  • Presentation Specialists
  • Litigation Consultants
  • Reprographic Services
  • Document Management
  • Court Reporting
  • Private Investigators
  • Couriers
  • Research Services
  • Title and Title Insurance Companies
  • Staffing Agencies
  • Surveyors

Additional Information

  • 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.
  • The expertise of excellent instructors including (paralegals, lawyers, and judges)

Interview Practicum

A legal professional will conduct mock interviews and give expert advice on acquiring a position in the legal field.

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.

LexisNexis Account

All students will also receive a personal LexisNexis account.

Prerequisites

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.

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