The UNC-Chapel Hill Paralegal Certificate Program is an intensive program of study that takes place over nineteen weeks, during which the student will attend evening and Saturday classes for approximately ten hours per week. Outside of the classroom, students will be required to complete at least 110 hours of study, as well as conduct research and prepare writing assignments. The content is organized into a paralegal skills course, five law courses, and two survey courses.

Office MeetingParalegal Skills

(80 in-class hours)

Paralegal Skills teaches the basic “nuts and bolts” of being a paralegal, regardless of the type of law firm or legal environment. The first part of Paralegal Skills is devoted to legal terminology. The course also covers professional responsibility and legal ethics, the federal and state court systems, rules of evidence, rules of civil procedure, proper citation of cases and statutes, legal research (online and in a law library), and legal writing (such as demand letters, complaints, motions, and briefs). Students take three examinations (including a final exam) and complete several writing assignments during the Paralegal Skills course.

Law Courses

(Five courses, 16–20 in-class hours each)

The Law courses cover five major areas of law. Each Law course is four to five weeks in length, and the courses are scheduled throughout the nineteen weeks of the program. Students must pass one examination at the end of each Law course with a minimum grade of 70 percent. While there are dozens of specialized areas of law, the Law courses provide students with a breadth of basic legal knowledge that will enable them to perform well in most law office environments.

  • Contracts: Students learn the fundamentals of contracts, including mutual assent (offer and acceptance), consideration and consideration substitutes, damages, and defenses to contract formation, such as duress, incapacity, statute of frauds, statute of limitations, and mutual mistake.
  • Criminal Law: Students learn the fundamentals of criminal law and procedure, including the elements of various crimes, probable cause, arrest, search and seizure, indictment, discovery, and trial practice.
  • Family Law: Students learn about the many facets of family law, including adoption, divorce, custody, paternity, alimony, domestic violence, grandparent visitation, and more.
  • Real Estate: Students learn about the various forms of ownership of real property (types of estates), easements, eminent domain and condemnation, water rights, trespass to property, landlord-tenant law, and the basics of title searching and closings.
  • Torts: Students learn about the intentional torts, including assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, trespass, conversion, and invasion of privacy. Students also learn about unintentional torts, including simple negligence, negligent hiring/supervision, premises liability, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Survey Courses

(Two courses, 4–8 in-class hours each)

In addition to the five Law courses, the Paralegal Certificate Program also includes Survey courses that present overviews of the law in the following areas:

  • Business Organizations
  • Wills, Trusts, and Estates

These courses offer students an insight into the breadth and diversity of the law, as well as help to prepare students for the Paralegal Certification Examination.

Course Dates

The Spring Classroom Paralegal Certificate Program is scheduled from January 30 through June 9, 2018.  Classes will be held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6 pm to 10 pm. Saturday classes are from 9 am to 4 pm. Student textbooks will be distributed during the first class session on January 30.  The program calendar, including Saturday dates is available here: UNC Calendar – Spring 2018.


Classes are held at the Friday Center, UNC-Chapel Hill’s premier adult education facility. The Friday Center offers ample free parking and is located about three miles east of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, just off Highway 54 East (Raleigh Road). The Center is a short distance from Interstate 40 (from Raleigh, I-40 exit 273A; from Greensboro, I-40 exit 273). See Directions to the Friday Center.

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