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 a 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

Attend the Central Piedmont Open House

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.

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 details the paralegal technology program options currently available at Central Piedmont as well as program eligibility and course requirements. If you would like information on opportunities to transfer associate degree credit to a four-year institution, please visit the Transfer Resource Center.

    Work-Based Learning

    Co-op is a course that is an elective for the paralegal program. Instead of coming to class on campus, during co-op you work with an employer to gain work experience that is directly related to your program of study while earning one credit hour towards your degree. Co-op positions are usually non-paid. If you are interested in completing a co-op, the following is a summary of the requirements:

    • be enrolled in either the paralegal technology associate degree or diploma
    • maintain a minimum 2.5 program GPA prior to placement
    • a minimum of 12 semester hours credit (12 SHC) must be completed (with a grade of C or better) within the appropriate program of study before you are eligible to receive co-op credit; a minimum of six SCH (two courses) must come be LEX courses (LEX 110, 140, 120, oST 136, 164, and ENG 111 are preferred)
    • must receive written approval to register for Work-Based Learning courses from both the Paralegal department and the Workplace Learning department. (Note: This decision to approve a student for co-op lies within the discretion of the Paralegal Program faculty and the Workplace Learning department. Therefore, even if all the workbased learning eligibility requirements have all been met, a faculty member may still choose not to approve a student for a Work-Based Learning assignment)
    • must be registered for a minimum of three credit hours of required coursework which will be completed concurrently with the work-based learning course. Exceptions to this requirement will  be made for students who have less than three hours of coursework to complete in order to obtain a paralegal degree. Any other exceptions will be made at the discretion of the Paralegal and Workplace Learning departments.
    • you must complete 160 hours over the 16-week fall or spring semester
    • you will work with your employer to determine scheduled hours

    Please visit the workplace learning site for instructions on how to get started with a co-op, including the co-op application. It is recommended that all co-op paperwork be submitted prior to the beginning of the semester.

    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

    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 course and program 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.

    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.

    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).

    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

    The credit by examination schedule is as follows:

    • summer 2019: Tuesday, May 16, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.

    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.

    Paralegal Program Policy for Acceptance of Transfer of Legal Specialty courses

    For non-ABA approved schools, it is the policy and practice of the paralegal program to grant a maximum of six hours of credit for legal specialty courses which are categorized as technical electives. Credit will be granted for courses taught at ground level only. For ABA approved schools, it is the policy and practice of the paralegal program to grant a maximum of nine hours of credit for legal specialty courses which are categorized as technical electives. It is also the policy and practice of the program to grant credit for core courses if the transferred courses are substantially similar to the department's courses. Credit for transfer of all LEX courses is on a case-by-case basis.

  • Locations

    Please note that course offerings and availability are subject to change from semester to semester. Always confirm which courses are required to complete this program in the college catalog and confirm where courses are available using Schedule Builder.

  • 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. Please note that course offerings and availability are subject to change from semester to semester. Always confirm which courses are required to complete this program in the college catalog and confirm course delivery methods using Schedule Builder.

  • Paralegal Careers

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

  • 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:

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  • 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: