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Paralegal Certificate Program Frequently Asked Questions

What is a paralegal? 

According to the National Association of Legal Assistants, the terms paralegal and legal assistant are used interchangeably, similar to the terms attorney and lawyer. A legal assistant or paralegal is 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.

As a paralegal, can I practice law or give legal advice?

Paralegals generally work in law firms and are an important part of the legal team, assisting attorneys with all aspects of the legal profession. A paralegal/legal assistant may not practice law, give legal advice, or represent clients in a court of law, but will aid attorneys in these practices. Paralegals can perform functions delegated by an attorney that could include conducting client interviews; locating and interviewing witnesses; conducting investigations and statistical and documentary research; drafting legal documents; summarizing depositions; attending executions of wills, real estate closings, depositions, court hearings or trials with the attorney; performing library or computer-assisted legal research; performing some accounting functions; and responding to correspondence.

What are career opportunities for paralegals?

Although private law firms are the single largest employer of paralegals, opportunities also exist in a variety of other professional settings. Some examples include civil service departments of the federal or state government; legal service and legal aid offices; law departments of corporations, banks, insurance companies, and other businesses; special interest groups (such as unions, associations, citizen action groups, lobbyists, and so on); federal or state prosecutors’ offices; or as a self-employed professional who sells services directly to attorneys. 

What is the salary range for paralegals?

There are as many kinds of paralegals as there are lawyers, and just like a lawyer’s salary, a paralegal’s salary will vary depending on the kind of law being practiced, the location, and the paralegal’s level of expertise. In general, paralegal salaries tend to be higher in larger law firms. The national average salary for paralegals ranges from $33,500 to $53,000.

What is the minimum education requirement to complete the program?

A minimum of an associate’s degree is required to enroll in the program. Enrollment is based on the University honor system, and a formal copy of your university or college transcript is not required for registration.

Is financial aid available?

The Paralegal Certificate Program is a continuing education program and as such does not qualify for university financial aid, nor is it eligible for support via the state’s tuition waiver program. We regret we cannot provide senior citizens’ discounts, and participants cannot audit the program.

Are scholarships available?

No. However, we do offer an incremental payment plan that distributes the tuition payment over a three-month period. The tuition must be paid in full half-way through completion of the program.

How much should I expect to spend on textbooks?

The $5,495 program cost includes the tuition fee and all textbooks and supplies. Texts and supplies will be provided at the beginning of class.

Will I have access to the LexisNexis legal database during the program?

Yes, the tuition fee includes access to the LexisNexis database for one year.

Is job placement included?

We do not offer formal job placement. However, the program features a career session that covers job search, resume writing, and interview skills. In addition, we will share information on employment opportunities with area legal firms via an e-mail to program participants and graduates.

Are internships available? 

No. Due to the program schedule and the number of participants involved, we are not able to offer program internships.

What Web site should I visit for more information about paralegal certification in North Carolina?

Go to the official Web site of the North Carolina State Bar, Board of Paralegal Certification, ncparalegal.org.

Do I have to be certified to work as a paralegal in North Carolina?

No. Certification is a voluntary process and is not a requirement to be employed as a paralegal/legal assistant or to be identified as a paralegal in North Carolina. However, the title “North Carolina Certified Paralegal” or “NCCP” is reserved for those individuals who are certified by the North Carolina State Bar.

How often is the North Carolina Paralegal Certification Exam offered?

The examination is offered twice a year, typically in May and October.

What is the cost for applying to sit for the North Carolina State Bar Paralegal Certification Exam?

The application filing fee is $125; the testing fee is $50.