Becoming a Certified Paralegal

Qualifications

To become a NC Certified Paralegal you must fulfill the educational requirements of Subchapter G, Certification of Paralegals, Rule .0119(a) of the Plan for Paralegal Certification and successfully pass the certificationexamination:

To qualify to sit for the certification examination, an applicant must satisfy the following criteria:

1. Be a legal resident of the United States.

2. Education (3 options):

a.  Have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in any discipline from any college or university that is accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the US Department of Education AND have a certificate in paralegal studies from a qualified paralegal studies program. To be a qualified program, the program must be approved by the American Bar Association or qualified by the Board of Paralegal Certification. You can check the ABA website at to see if your school is approved by the ABA. There is also a listing of NC Qualified Paralegal Studies Programs on our website; OR

b. Have an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree from a qualified paralegal studies program; OR

c.  Have a JD degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association.

3. Submit a completed application along with the filing fee ($125). The application must be accompanied by an official transcript from your paralegal program as well as be signed in the presence of a notary.


Important Dates

As of July 1, 2007, all applicants must satisfy the educational requirements of Rule .0119(a), and successfully pass an examination. Applications to sit for the next certification exam can be found in our documents section


Qualified Paralegal Studies Programs

A paralegal studies program must be designated by the Board of Paralegal Certification (the board) as “qualified” to satisfy the educational requirements for certification set forth in Rule .0119(a)of The Plan for Paralegal Certification, 27 NCAC 1G, Section .0100.

Click here for the list that shows all North Carolina paralegal studies programs that have been designated as “qualified” by the board and the date upon which the designation became effective for graduates.

All ABA approved programs are designated by the board as qualified as of the two years prior to the ABA approval. For a list of ABA approved programs, click here. Institutional members of American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE) are also designated as qualified as of the year prior to their membership. Here is a list of AAfPE approved programs.

The checklist below sets forth the minimum educational criteria for qualification of programs that are not ABA approved or institutional members of AAfPE. The list contains the ABA requirements that could be reduced to a checklist, but does not include evaluation of the underlying quality of the program. Please be advised that a program’s ability to meet this checklist will not necessarily lead to ABA approval or qualify a program for the purpose of North Carolina State Bar paralegal certification.

All programs must answer the following questions in the affirmative:

1. Do all of the legal specialty courses cover substantive law or legal procedures and process developed for paralegals and emphasize practical paralegal skills?

2. Does the program offer legal research and writing, and cover electronic resources?

3. Does the program offer a course in ethics and professional responsibility?

4. Are students required to take at least 10 semester credits, or the equivalent, of classroom instruction (which may include live, real-time, simultaneous broadcast via satellite or webinar)? Any program that can be completed entirely online (without any “real time,” live instruction) will not be designated by the Board of Paralegal Certification as a “qualified paralegal studies program.”

5. If some of the legal specialty courses are taught in an alternative format, are the instructors available for feedback and can you identify students submitting homework and taking examinations?

In addition, depending upon the type of degree offered, a program must meet the following requirements:

Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Master’s Degree in Paralegal Studies from a Qualified Paralegal Studies Program: Must require at least 60 credit hours, or the equivalent, of general education courses and legal specialty courses. Of the 60 credit hours, at least 18 credit hours, or the equivalent, must be legal specialty courses.

Certificate or Diploma Program: Students must already have either an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in any discipline from any college or university that is accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the US Department of Education. The certificate program must include at least 18 credit hours, or the equivalent, of legal specialty courses.

Click here for the list that shows the current exam passing rate for all North Carolina paralegal studies programs.


Forms

Application forms for certification can be found on the Documents page or by calling the State Bar at (919) 828-4620.


Cost for Certification

The initial application must be accompanied by a check for $125. When you receive notification of the approval of your application you must submit a $50 testing fee prior to scheduling the exam. Certification is granted for a period of one year.


Renewals

The renewal fee is $50. To qualify for continued certification, a certified paralegal must participate in not less than six hours of board approved continuing paralegal education (CPE) each year. One hour of the six CPE credits must be in ethics/professional responsibility. Certified paralegals may take unlimited online CLE or CPE, as long as the course is accredited. Renewal is required annually on either July 1 or January 1, depending on the original certification date. All programs approved for CLE credit for lawyers are automatically approved for CPE credit.

A late fee of $25 will be charged to any certified paralegal who fails to file the renewal application within 45 days of the due date; provided, however, a renewal application will not be accepted more than 90 days after the due date. Failure to renew shall result in lapse of certification.


Examination

The next examination will be administered on Saturday, October 11, 2014 (deadline for application submission is August 5, 2014), at the following campuses in North Carolina: South College, Asheville; UNC-Charlotte, Charlotte; Guilford Technical Community College, Greensboro; Campbell School of Law, Raleigh; and Pitt Community College, Greenville. These locations may change due to scheduling or other conflicts. The Board of Paralegal Certification reserves the right to cancel any examination site if there are less than five applicants registered for a location.

The examination fee is $50. This fee is in addition to the $125 application fee.

For additional information on the examination, and sample questions, see the FAQ page.


Study Guide
Click here to view and download the NCCP Exam Study Guide available from the NC State Bar.

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