Paralegal Technology Once Again Earns ‘Qualified’ Designation
WINTERVILLE—The North Carolina State Board of Paralegal Certification has once again designated Pitt Community College’s Paralegal Technology curriculum a “qualified paralegal program” – a fairly rare distinction in the State of North Carolina.
According to Vicki Coleman, PCC Paralegal Technology Department chair, Pitt’s paralegal program first earned the “qualified” designation in 2006, when certification of North Carolina paralegals began. She said the N.C. State Bar – the government agency responsible for regulating the state’s legal profession, including attorneys and paralegals – reviews “qualified” programs every five years.
Coleman said graduates of qualified paralegal training programs can apply to take the N.C. Certified Paralegal Exam, as long as they meet all of the other eligibility requirements as well. She said paralegals who pass the exam are entitled to use the ‘North Carolina Certified Paralegal’ designation.
“(It) indicates that the N.C. State Bar has determined the certified paralegal has met its entry-level professional standards,” Coleman said. She said certified paralegals maintain their certification by taking annual continuing education courses and adhering to ethical and professional standards throughout their careers.
PCC’s designation as an N.C. State Bar-qualified paralegal program stems from its ongoing approval from the American Bar Association (ABA). Earning ABA’s endorsement, Coleman says, involves a rigorous vetting process, including detailed documentation of the paralegal program’s standards, activities and outcomes, and site visits by ABA personnel.
“There are only seven ABA-approved programs in North Carolina, and, of those seven, only four are located within the North Carolina Community College System,” she said, adding that PCC’s program first earned ABA’s endorsement in 1995 and was most recently reapproved last year.
PCC’s Paralegal Technology program has been admitting students since 1974, so next year with be the 50th year it’s produced entry-level, professional problem-solvers for northeastern North Carolina’s legal marketplace. Coleman says the program will be reaching out to its more than 700 alumni in 2024 in the hope they will participate in planned 50th Anniversary festivities.