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Halifax Community College (HCC) has recently received notification that the North Carolina State Board of Paralegal Certification has designated the Associate in Applied Science degree program in Paralegal Technology as a qualified paralegal studies program as of August 2002. Paralegal certification is a program of the North Carolina State Bar.

Since Paralegal Technology started at HCC in 2002, this designation means that anyone who has graduated from the program can sit for the state examination to become a certified paralegal, or if qualified, be grandfathered in for certification. This distinction can translate into a better job and compensation. Having a qualified paralegal studies program means that the North Carolina State Bar Board of Paralegal Certification recognizes the program as one that is approved by the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association (ABA), or that offers at least the equivalent 18 semester credits of coursework in paralegal studies as prescribed by the ABA Guidelines for the Approval of Paralegal Education.

Although paralegal certification is voluntary, it is anticipated that within the next few years, as certification becomes more familiar to legal employers, some employers may require and hire only North Carolina Certified Paralegals. Certification gives employers a benchmark to assist them in their hiring practices.

HCC's Paralegal Technology Program, which is a three-year curriculum, can be completed entirely online—there are no seated classes. It prepares individuals to work under the supervision of attorneys by performing routine legal tasks and assisting with substantive legal work. Graduates are trained to assist attorneys in probate investigations, public records search, drafting and filing legal documents, research and office management. Employment opportunities are available in private law firms, governmental agencies, banks, insurance agencies and other business organizations.

For more information about the Paralegal Technology Program at HCC, contact Natalie Watson, Paralegal Technology Department Head and Instructor at (252) 536-6382 or watsonn@halifaxcc.edu.