What do paralegals do?
Paralegals perform legal research, draft and prepare documents, and gather and organize factual information. Responsibilities differ depending upon the kind of business or firm and its size and specialization. Training as a paralegal provides instruction in basic legal principles and skills which can be transferred to various settings. In North Carolina, a paralegal cannot independently give legal advice to clients, represent clients in court, accept a case or set a fee.
What are salaries like for paralegals?
Legal Assistant Today, a national publication for paralegals, produces an annual report on salaries. For their most current survey results, please visit their website at www.legalassistanttoday.com.
What if I am thinking about law school?
A paralegal career offers intellectually challenging and varied work in the legal field for a much smaller investment of time and money. However, the paralegal field can be a good option for students who are interested in a legal career but who are not sure about law school or are not ready to go immediately. Training and working as a paralegal can be a way to test your interest in becoming an attorney and gaining practical skills to give you a head start in law school.
Does the Paralegal Program provide job placement assistance?
Meredith College receives job announcements from the legal community weekly, and offers placement assistance while students are in the program as well as to all program graduates. A 15-hour Professional Development course focuses on the job search. The Director of the Paralegal Program meets with each student to create customized job searches and professional development strategies.
Is ABA-Approval Necessary?
Educational programs for paralegals vary. Programs may or may not be approved or accredited. Because paralegals are not licensed, a certificate from an ABA-approved program is considered a solid indication of a quality education. Many employers require or prefer a student with a certificate from an ABA-approved paralegal program.
Education programs approved by the American Bar Association must satisfy the stringent requirements of the approval process supervised by the ABA’s Standing Committee on Paralegals. An ABA-approved paralegal education program has undergone a rigorous scrutiny of its curriculum, faculty, recruiting and admission practices, library and computer resources, student services and other aspects of the program.
The guidance and direction of the ABA through the Standing Committee and its Approval Commission has led to the development of superior paralegal education programs designed to raise the competence of those individuals who assist lawyers in the delivery of legal services.
The approval process is accomplished through extensive investigation of self-evaluation reports prepared by the paralegal programs as well as through on-site evaluation of program operations to verify that they operate in compliance with ABA Guidelines. Programs that successfully complete the evaluation process are approved for a period of seven years.
What are the admission requirements?
The Paralegal Program operates with rolling admissions. An interview with the Program Director is part of the admissions process and will be scheduled after the applicant's file is complete. An application is not considered complete until all of the following documents have been received.
- A completed application form and $30 non-refundable application fee. An official baccalaureate degree transcript. Applicants should request that their undergraduate institution send an official transcript directly to the Paralegal Program office. If the applicant has attended more than one school for undergraduate work, or has attended graduate school, transcripts from these institutions should also be requested.
- A letter of recommendation from two persons with knowledge of the applicant’s work or academic ability. Current or former teachers and current or former employers are appropriate references. Friends are not appropriate recommenders. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ask the reference to write directly to the Paralegal Program office.
- A personal statement of interest in the paralegal field, which will serve as a writing sample. The statement should be typed and should not exceed 500 words.
- A current resume.
- A current photograph (optional)