Paralegal Technology

Paralegal Technology

The paralegal profession is among the fastest growing professions in the United States. Attorneys are constantly in search of good paralegals. A paralegal education is also valuable for individuals who wish to enter other professions in which a legal background is helpful. The Central Piedmont Paralegal Technology program offers an associate degree or a post-baccalaureate diploma and has the primary goal of providing you with the legal knowledge and practical skills necessary to become a competent, ethical professional.

What You Will Learn

The American Bar Association (ABA) defines a paralegal as "...a person, qualified by education, training, or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency, or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a  lawyer is responsible." Paralegals play an important role in allowing lawyers to provide high-quality, reasonably priced legal services. A paralegal is not licensed to practice law and is therefore prohibited by state bar rules from engaging in any activity that may constitute as the unauthorized practice of law. These include, but are not limited to, activities such as giving legal advice, representing clients in court or at depositions, signing legal documents, or entering into fee agreements with clients. Paralegals also generally may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law. You will be trained to assist attorneys in civil and criminal trial practice, title searches, estate administration, investigations, public record searches, drafting, filing legal documents, and other legal tasks. This program prepares you to work under the supervision of attorneys by performing a variety of legal tasks and assisting with substantive legal work.

Overall, coursework includes, but is not limited to, areas of civil litigation, legal research and writing, real estate, family law, wills, estates, trusts, contract (commercial) law, personal injury law, corporate law, criminal law, and legal ethics and professionalism. For students working toward an Associate in Applied Science degree, general education required courses include subjects in English, mathematics, humanities, and the social sciences. All students are required to take courses in introduction to computers, keyboarding, word processing, text editing, and public speaking. Additionally, graduates may receive training in probate work, investigations, public records searches, drafting and filing legal documents, and other tasks.

Employment opportunities are available in private law firms, governmental agencies, banks, insurance agencies, and other business organizations.

Core Competencies

  • communication: the ability to read, write, speak, listen, and use nonverbal skills effectively with different audiences
  • critical thinking: the ability to think using analysis, synthesis, evaluation, problem solving, judgment, and the creative process
  • personal growth and responsibility: the ability to understand and manage self, to function effectively in social and professional environments, and to make reasoned judgments based on an understanding of the diversity of the world community
  • information technology and quantitative literacy: the ability to locate, understand, evaluate, and synthesize, information, and data in a technological and data driven society

Educational Objectives

  • to provide our students with a well-rounded education, which includes general education courses (for our degree students), as well as legal specialty courses
  • to prepare students to draft legal documents in at least three areas of law
  • to provide students with substantive knowledge in at least five areas of law
  • to instill in our students an appreciation for ethical and professional behavior
  • to instill in our students an appreciation for the rules of grammar and punctuation
  • to teach our students traditional research skills, as well as computer-based research skills

Administrative Objectives

  • to improve communication between the program and its students and part-time faculty by expanding the program’s website and encouraging students and part-time faculty to refer to it often
  • to purchase legal software and incorporate instruction thereon into relevant courses. (e.g., SoftPro, Time Matters, etc.)
  • to assist current students and graduates in obtaining legal employment and to develop and implement a plan that will allow the program to keep better track of its graduates
  • to make courses more uniform, such that students learn the same things regardless of who the instructor is
  • to develop policies and procedures that will assist the program’s part-time instructors in developing their syllabi and lesson plans, which will in turn assure uniformity within the paralegal courses
  • to develop formal (written) articulation agreements with four-year colleges

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Why Choose Central Piedmont

Our paralegal technology program is the foremost paralegal program in the Charlotte area. It is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) and is a qualified paralegal studies program of the North Carolina State Bar. Many schools don't meet the ABA standards. In fact, Central Piedmont Community College is one of only seven American Bar Association approved paralegal programs in North Carolina and is the only ABA-approved program in Charlotte. Meeting and maintaining high curriculum standards is what you deserve to know and what attorneys expect. Graduates of our ABA approved paralegal program are automatically qualified to sit for the North Carolina Certified Paralegal examination.

A paralegal program that is approved by the ABA is one which has met the guidelines and standards set by the ABA Standing Committee on Paralegals and its Approval Commission. These guidelines relate to all areas including, but not limited to: admission and enrollment  procedures, curriculum and degree requirements, faculty credentials, textbooks, course syllabi, law library requirements, advisory committees, career placement, counseling, internships, and a program's evaluation requirements.  Once a program has obtained initial ABA approval by showing compliance with ABA Guidelines, that program must re-apply for approval every seven years, submitting an interim report in the third year of the seven year cycle. In addition, all major changes in program leadership, curriculum, location, or organization must be reported to the ABA to ensure that the program remains in compliance with ABA Guidelines at all times. For more information on what it means to graduate from an ABA Approved program, please visit the ABA Paralegal Section.

You will also have the opportunity to participate in the Paralegal Society of Central Piedmont student organization.

Real World Education

At Central Piedmont, your education goes beyond what you learn in class. We offer numerous opportunities for you to enhance your learning — and to make friends, network, and pursue your passions — through clubs and organizations, sports, events and activities, leadership opportunities, job experience, volunteer experiences, visual and performing arts, and even international experiences.

Paralegal Careers and Average Salaries

Visit Central Piedmont’s Career Coach for detailed paralegal career opportunities, salary information, and job openings.

Career Coach

The Details

  • Program Options

    Earn an Associate in Applied Science or a post-baccalaureate diploma in paralegal technology. The paralegal technology Associate in Applied Science degree is open to individuals holding at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. The paralegal technology post-baccalaureate diploma is open to individuals holding a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and have completed ENG 111 with a "C" or better.

    The college catalog lists the paralegal program options, courses, eligibility, and requirements currently available at Central Piedmont.

    If you would like information on opportunities to transfer associate degree credit to a four-year institution, please visit the Transfer Resource Center.

    Visiting Students

    If you wish to transfer paralegal course credit back to your home institution, explore how to enroll at Central Piedmont as a visiting student.

    Corporate and Continuing Education

    Central Piedmont's Corporate and Continuing Education provides non-credit, non-degree courses and programs, including job skills, industry-focused career training, certificates, certifications, professional licensure, and personal enrichment. Day, evening, weekend, and online opportunities are available.

    College and Career Readiness

    If you are looking for programs to gain the knowledge or skills necessary to finish a high school degree or to get a job, visit Central Piedmont's College and Career Readiness.

    College Credit for High School Students

    Visit Career and College Promise to learn about opportunities for high school students to earn college credit at Central Piedmont.

  • Paralegal Technology Program Requirements and Suggested Course Sequences

    The paralegal technology diploma requires that you have already completed a bachelor's degree; the associate degree requires that you have obtained a high school diploma. For detailed information on paralegal program options, courses, eligibility, and requirements, visit the Central Piedmont Community College catalog. You must have a C or better in ENG 111 (or its equivalent) before you can register for any LEX courses. If you took ENG 111 (or its equivalent) at another school, you will need to have that school send your transcript to Central Piedmont's Student Records department. You must score a minimum score on a math placement test in order to register for the required math course (MAT 143 or 152). If you score below the minimum score, you will be required to take a remedial Math course(s) before you can register for one of the required math courses.

    Suggested Course Sequences

    There is no requirement that you complete the program in a set time period. The associate degree requires the completion of 72-73 credit hours, which includes college level general education requirements, in addition to substantive and procedural legal specialty coursework. The post-baccalaureate diploma requires the completion of 41 credit hours, which is comprised primarily of legal specialty coursework, but also includes public speaking, introduction to computers, and a social/behavioral science elective. The associate degree may be completed in two years if you attend classes full time; the diploma may be completed in one year if you attend full time. You will only be able to complete the program within these time periods if you follow the suggested course sequence for each degree option. However, our students have varied circumstances which allow for some to complete the program faster than others.

    Paralegal Program Policy for Acceptance of Transfer of Legal Specialty courses

    Many students are able to receive transfer credit for such courses as social science elective, public speaking, or introduction to computers. If you are interested in receiving transfer credit for LEX courses, you must contact your faculty advisor. These requests are handled on a case by case basis, and are rarely granted. It may be possible to reduce the number of required courses by receiving transfer credit. Upon review of your undergraduate transcripts, a Central Piedmont transcript analyst may give you transfer credit for public speaking, humanities, and/or social science requirements, if the same course was taken at another college. The transcript analyst must first determine that your previous non-LEX course(s) are the substantial equivalent(s) of those required in the paralegal program. If you feel you are eligible for receiving transfer credit for some of the non-LEX courses required for your paralegal degree, you must specifically request that your transcript be evaluated by a transcript analyst at Central Piedmont. No course credit is awarded for paralegal work experience. However, you can receive credit towards the LEX elective requirement for working in a paralegal-type job while taking classes by enrolling in work-based learning (co-op).

    The program accepts both legal specialty courses and other courses in transfer per the college's program completion policy. In order to receive credit at Central Piedmont for the transferred course:

    • the transferring institution(s) must be regionally accredited
    • the transferred course must be sufficiently similar to a Central Piedmont course
    • you must must have earned at least a “C” at a postsecondary institution
    • the course must be a legal specialty courses taught in a traditional format

    Also:

    • Central Piedmont will accept no more than 6 credit hours of legal specialty courses taken at non-ABA approved schools.
    • Central Piedmont will accept no more than 9 credit hours of legal specialty courses taken at an ABA-approved program.
    • You must take at least 25% of all your legal specialty courses at Central Piedmont.

    Credit By Examination

    There is a cost associated with credit by exam. The fee will range from $100—$200. Please see the following information for specific credits and costs. Testing results are available within 24—48 business hours.

    Credit by exam is offered the week before classes begin in both fall and spring semesters for the following courses. Credit by exam is not offered during the summer.

    • OST 131: Keyboarding (2 credits) — $150
    • OST 136: Word Processing (3 credits) — $200
    • OST 164: Text Editing Application (by request only; 3 credits) — $200
    • ACC 110: Ten-Key Skills (by request only; 1 credit) — $100
    Credit by Exam Schedule

    TBD.

    You can schedule to take the credit by examination at either time, but are eligible to take only one test per test date. It is recommended that you secure a copy of the required textbooks for the course for review, as rules, procedures, and software functions have changed over the years.

    In order to take the credit by exam, you must:

    • have keyboarding experience
    • be a currently-enrolled Central Piedmont student
    • never taken the exam at Central Piedmont before
    • not have attended more than two classes if register for the course before

    OST 131: Keyboarding consists of 30 words per minute with three or fewer errors. Your technique will also be observed.

    Please keep in mind that OST 131: Keyboarding or CIS 110: Introduction to Computers is a prerequisite to OST 136: Word Processing — you must have completed one or the other of these courses or you will not be allowed to sit for the OST 136: Word Processing credit by exam.

    To sign up for credit by exam, lease send an email using your Central Piedmont student email address to office.admin@cpcc.edu with your name, student ID number, course, time, and date you would like to take the exam. All follow-up communication will be sent to your Central Piedmont student email address.

    • Locations

      Cato Campus

      Courses available and their schedules can change each semester. Check the paralegal program options, courses, eligibility, and requirements each semester.

    • Course Delivery Methods

      • Classroom/Lab
      • Combined (Classroom/Lab and Online)
      • Online

      You may complete the program by taking only evening classes. You may take a combination of traditional, hybrid, and online courses; however, you are required to take at least 10 semester credits or the equivalent of legal specialty courses through traditional classroom instruction.

      Courses available and their schedules can change each semester. Check the paralegal program options, courses, eligibility, and requirements each semester.

    • Certified Paralegal Exam

      The North Carolina Certified Paralegal exam is typically given in April and October of each year. You must apply to sit for the exam and deadlines apply. Please visit their North Carolina Certified Paralegal website for details.

    • Costs and Aid

      Central Piedmont provides real-world, affordable, hands-on education and career training. Learn how much it costs to attend Central Piedmont. Financial aid and scholarships are available.

      Paralegal Scholarships

      In particular, students interested in enrolling in the paralegal technology program should consider the following Central Piedmont scholarship opportunity:

      Victoria Bowler Memorial Endowed Scholarship

    • Related Programs

    • Admitted Students: Find Your Faculty Advisor

      Students at Central Piedmont have a faculty advisor for each program of study offered. Find your faculty advisor based on your last name:

      • Nina Neal: last names A–F
      • Keith Shannon: last names G–L
      • Stephanie Neely: last names M–R
      • Lindsay E. Willis: last names S–Z