The UNC-Chapel Hill Paralegal Certificate Program is an intensive program of study that takes place over 19 weeks, during which the participant will attend evening and Saturday classes for approximately 10 hours per week.
Outside of the classroom, participants will be required to complete at least 110 hours of study, as well as conduct research and prepare writing assignments. This totals to approximately 300 hours of overall academic engagement.
The content is organized into a Paralegal Skills course, 5 Law courses, and 2 Survey courses.
(80 in-class hours)
Paralegal Skills teaches the basic “nuts and bolts” of being a paralegal, regardless of the 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). Participants take 3 examinations, including a final exam, and complete several writing assignments.
(5 courses, 16–20 in-class hours each)
The Law courses cover 5 major areas of law. Each Law course is 4-5 weeks in length, and the courses are scheduled throughout the 19 weeks of the program. Participants must pass an examination at the end of each Law course, with a minimum grade of 70%.
While there are dozens of specialized areas of law, our Law courses provide participants with a breadth of basic legal knowledge that will enable them to perform well in most law office environments.
Participants 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.
Participants 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.
Participants learn about the many facets of family law, including adoption, divorce, custody, paternity, alimony, domestic violence, grandparent visitation, and more.
Participants 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.
Participants learn about the intentional torts, including assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, trespass, conversion, and invasion of privacy. Participants also learn about unintentional torts, including simple negligence, negligent hiring/supervision, premises liability, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
(2 courses, 4–8 in-class hours each)
In addition to the 5 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 participants an insight into the breadth and diversity of the law, as well as help to prepare participants for the Paralegal Certification Examination.
The Spring Paralegal Certificate Program is scheduled from January 26 through June 3, 2021. Classes will be held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings (with a few Wednesday classes) from 6 pm to 10 pm. Saturday classes are from 9 am to 4 pm. Student textbooks will be distributed by mail delivery. For more details about course topics and themes, download our Program Overview (PDF).
For the safety of both students and staff amid the ongoing COVID19 epidemic, the Spring 2021 cohort of the program will be offered completely online, with live classes using the Zoom platform. Live classes streamed online are allowed by the NC State Bar as part of a certified paralegal program.
Students wishing to enroll in the program for Fall 2020 must have a laptop or desktop computer (PC or Apple) with the following:
- Internet Access
- Internet Browser (Google Chrome is recommended, but most will work)
- Email address
- Functioning camera, speakers & microphone (earbuds/headphones recommended)
- Adobe Acrobat Reader (on the Adobe website, you can uncheck the “Optional Offers” and then click the “Download Acrobat Reader” button)
- Zoom (you can download the application, or simply access class through your browser)
- Microsoft Word or other word processing software
Please Note: while you may participate in class sessions using a tablet or phone, you will find that some lessons will be more difficult on the smaller screen size. We HIGHLY recommend you connect to class sessions using a laptop/desktop.