Presentation on theme: "The Plan for Certification of Paralegals A Program of the North Carolina State Bar Presented by the North Carolina State Bar Board of Paralegal Certification."— Presentation transcript:
The Plan for Certification of Paralegals A Program of the North Carolina State Bar Presented by the North Carolina State Bar Board of Paralegal Certification
What is the purpose of the Plan? Self-funded, voluntary certification program Provides incentives to North Carolina paralegals to meet minimum education and continuing education requirements Does not restrict the use of the term “paralegal” nor differentiate the services between a certified and non-certified paralegal Identifies individuals who have met the Plan’s requirements and work under the direction and supervision of a licensed lawyer
What was the impetus for creating the Plan? To establish a recognized, professional standard for the paralegal profession in North Carolina Chapter 84 was amended in 2004 to authorize the State Bar to regulate and enforce the Plan Plan was approved by the State Bar and North Carolina Supreme Court in 2004
How does the Plan benefit attorneys? Benchmark to assist attorneys in their hiring practices Enhance the attorney’s practice Reduce ethical violations, UPL violations and malpractice claims
How does the Plan benefit paralegals? Establishing minimum education and continuing education standards enhances the quality of legal services that paralegals can provide to attorneys and indirectly to their clients Lends credence to the paralegal profession by emphasizing the importance of paralegals in the practice of law Provides much deserved recognition of the paralegal profession in North Carolina
Who administers the Plan? Board of Paralegal Certification (a standing Board of the State Bar) Board composed of 9 members (5 NC licensed attorneys, one of which must be a program director of a qualified paralegal studies program, and 4 certified paralegals)
How do you become a certified paralegal? You must fulfill the educational requirements of Rule.0119(a) and successfully pass an examination.
What are the requirements of Rule.0119(a)? You must have received your associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree from a qualified paralegal studies program OR You must have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in any other discipline PLUS have received a certificate from a qualified paralegal studies program.
What is a Qualified Paralegal Studies Program? A program of paralegal or legal assistant studies that is approved by the American Bar Association, or that offers at least the equivalent of 18 semester credits of coursework in paralegal studies as prescribed by the American Bar Association Guidelines for the Approval of Paralegal Education, and is an institutional member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools or other regional accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education.
Note: Determination that a paralegal studies program is qualified under this section does not constitute an approval or an endorsement of the program by the Board or the North Carolina State Bar.
How Do I Choose a Paralegal Program? The American Bar Association (www.abanet.org) provides a list of ABA- approved programswww.abanet.org Review the brochure “How to Choose a Paralegal Program” from the American Association for Paralegal Education (www.aafpe.org); this document was created with the ABA, NALA and NFPA.www.aafpe.org
What designations can be used by a certified paralegal? North Carolina Certified Paralegal (“NCCP”); or North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegal (“NCSB/CP”); or Paralegal Certified by the North Carolina State Bar Board of Paralegal Certification.
NOTE: The plan does not preclude an individual from calling himself or herself a paralegal. It only restricts you from using the designations above unless you have complied with terms of the Plan.
NOTE: The plan does not expand the duties of paralegals. Paralegals are still required to be supervised by a licensed attorney unless authorized by law to provide services directly to the public.
What is the fee to apply to sit for the certification exam? $125.00
What is the fee to take the certification exam? $50.00 which will be required once an applicant is approved to sit for the certification exam
What are the CPE requirements? Six (6) total hours of annual CPE One (1) hour must be in professional responsibility (ethics)
When are renewals due? Renewals are due annually on either July 1 or January 1, depending on your original date of certification.
What is the Certification Committee? Composed of seven members appointed by the Board (two members must be lawyers and two members must be paralegals). Responsible for developing and administering the exam.
When and where is the examination given? Exam will be offered twice a year - once in the spring and once in the fall. The examination is administered at a number of sites throughout the state.
How long is the exam and what topics are covered? The exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions. Examinees are given three hours to complete the exam. Topics covered are civil litigation; commercial law; criminal law; ethics; family law; legal research; real property; and wills, trusts, and estate administration. (Exam questions may not be equally distributed among the different areas of law.)
Who is ineligible to qualify under the Plan? Individual whose certification or license is under suspension or revocation Individual whose license to practice law is under suspension or revocation Individual who has been convicted of a criminal act Individual who is not a legal resident of the United States
Where can I find more information about the Plan? Visit the North Carolina State Bar web site at www.nccertifiedparalegal.gov or contact the North Carolina State Bar at (919) 828-4620. www.nccertifiedparalegal.gov