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.
Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law.
- 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
- 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
- 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.