North Carolina Paralegal Career Guide
Our guide is your starting point for exploring a career as a paralegal or legal assistant. On this page you will find career resources, job outlook and salary information, and answers to the most common questions about how to become a paralegal in North Carolina. Begin your career exploration with the easy to use directory below.
Table of Contents:
- Paralegal Careers
- Job Outlook In North Carolina
- Salary Outlook
- Salary by Metro Area
- Paralegal Certification
- Certification in North Carolina
- Career Quick Start Tips – How to Become a Paralegal in North Carolina
- Additional Paralegal Resources
- North Carolina Paralegal Career Books
- Paralegal Job Search Websites
- North Carolina State Court Info
- Law Libraries in North Carolina
- Paralegal Associations in North Carolina
Though the majority of North Carolina paralegal jobs are in private law firms, corporations, banks, and government agencies also require paralegal support staff and may provide newly qualified paralegals and legal assistants with promising and diverse positions. Large, urban law firms hire the largest number of paralegals and legal assistants and often dedicate paralegals to a specific area of practice, which may lead paralegals seeking specialization in a particular legal area to focused job searches with regional or national firms. Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP, founded in North Carolina in 1876, has become one of the most prominent law firms on the eastern seaboard. This full-service business law firm practices in virtually every legal practice area, offering exceptional legal support via specialized legal teams. Moore & Van Allen PLLC is another large regional firm with offices across the Southeast. The fast growing firm is known for its client-service based legal and administrative staff and positive workplace culture.
In addition to law firms, many corporate internal legal departments are undergoing expansion, resulting in the creation of positions for paralegals. Large corporations with headquarters in North Carolina include Bank of America Corp, Lowe’s, Nucor Corporation, Duke Energy, and the Goodrich Corporation. Positions at corporations such as these may be interesting for paralegals seeking careers in such areas as business law, patent law, and technology law. Government agencies at the local, state, and federal levels also frequently post North Carolina paralegal jobs. These positions may be appealing for entry-level paralegals and legal assistants seeking a broad-based introduction to the field.
Job Outlook in North Carolina
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in North Carolina from 2010-20201
The paralegal occupation is predicted to be one of the fastest growing occupations nationwide in the coming years, largely due to widespread efforts to reduce the cost of providing legal services. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected 17% employment growth for paralegals and legal assistants nationwide from 2012 to 2022.2 Paralegal job growth in North Carolina is expected to exceed the national growth rate, with the North Carolina Department of Commerce projecting a 24.5% growth rate for paralegals in the state from 2010 to 2020.1 This is based on a projected 400 average annual openings for paralegals and legal assistants, of which 250 are expected to come from new positions added to the job market.1
North Carolina Paralegal Salary Outlook
In May 2014, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an estimated 9,560 paralegals and legal assistants employed throughout North Carolina.3 The average paralegal salary in North Carolina is $44,120 per year.3 As in other states, large law firms headquartered in urban commercial centers should generally offer the highest wages for paralegal support staff. Employment of paralegals and legal assistants in North Carolina is centered in urban areas such as Raleigh and Charlotte.4 Though the high number of existing paralegal and legal assistant positions may lead to competition in the job market, the fast-paced job growth rate is expected to create many new positions. Due to these factors, paralegal salary in North Carolina has a positive outlook. Formal education, state certification, national certification and work experience will continue to benefit candidates as those who have stronger qualifications will be able to negotiate for more competitive salaries.
North Carolina Paralegal Salary Info By Metro Area
An overview of North Carolina paralegal salary by metro area:
|Metro Area||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.
Paralegal Certification in North Carolina
Currently, certification is not required for North Carolina paralegals. However, the North Carolina State Bar has implemented a voluntary state certification program based on education and examination known as the Plan for Certification of Paralegals. Though this procedure is optional, most prospective paralegals choose to pursue an American Bar Association-approved paralegal education program to receive certification under the plan and become competitive applicants for paralegal jobs in North Carolina. As of July 2015 the American Bar Association (ABA) has formally approved seven paralegal programs in North Carolina. These programs vary in content, duration and cost, but all meet or exceed the national standard adopted by the ABA. Other paralegal degree programs are offered at various institutions across the state, though these may not be sufficient to fulfill the prerequisites of the North Carolina State Bar paralegal certification examination.
Prospective paralegals and legal assistants are also encouraged to seek national certification through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). These organizations offer certification programs similar to the North Carolina State Bar paralegal certification system. The purpose of these certification programs is to ensure a consistent and high degree of competency and professional ability for paralegals and legal assistants nationwide.
North Carolina Certification
The North Carolina State Bar’s Plan for Certification of Paralegals allows paralegals and legal assistants to gain voluntary certification and use the title “North Carolina Certified Paralegal.” Paralegal certification through the North Carolina State Bar requires some formal paralegal training in the form of an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in paralegal studies; a juris doctorate degree from an accredited law school; or a college-level degree in another field supplemented by a post-baccalaureate certificate in paralegal studies. Those who have completed qualifying education are eligible to sit for the North Carolina Certified Paralegal Exam. After passing the exam, certified paralegals must complete continuing education each year to maintain their North Carolina paralegal certification. For more information regarding paralegal education, certification, and employment in North Carolina, please refer to the North Carolina State Bar or to one of the North Carolina paralegal associations listed below.
Career Quick Start Tips — How to Become a Paralegal in North Carolina
Prospective North Carolina paralegals may follow a number of paths on their journey to a paralegal career. Since the North Carolina State Bar’s Plan for Certification of Paralegals is a widely adopted standard, most North Carolina paralegals complete a degree or certificate in paralegal studies before pursuing the North Carolina Certified Paralegal credential. You can research paralegal programs in North Carolina on our North Carolina paralegal schools page.
Those who earn North Carolina paralegal certification often elect to pursue national certification through NALA or the NFPA to supplement their professional credentials. You can visit our jobs board to see paralegal jobs in North Carolina and gain a better understanding of what employers hiring paralegals are looking for from candidates. For further information on how to become a paralegal at the national level, read our guide Steps to Become a Paralegal.
Paralegals perform invaluable work for their firms and for their firms’ clients. Success as a paralegal is based not only on an individual’s knowledge but also on the ability to draw on the right resources at the right time. The following North Carolina paralegal resources can help you become more competitive in your job search and in your career.
North Carolina Paralegal Career Books
Concise Guide to Paralegal Ethics – Successful professionals in all areas of law strive to uphold strong ethics and paralegals are no exception. This reference written by legal educator Therese Cannon provides in-depth ethical guidelines for paralegals within the framework of rules and standards for other legal professionals. Major ethical points are reinforced through case studies, hypothetical situations, and questions for thought.
North Carolina Legal Research – Resources and citation standards for legal research can vary from state to state, which justifies having a North Carolina-specific research guide at hand. This book includes processes and strategies for locating needed information, customized according to the type of law being researched. Also included are guidelines for federal legal research.
The Paralegal Professional – Now in its fourth edition, this text provides comprehensive information for entry-level paralegals as well as handy points of reference for practicing paralegals. With a focus on procedural legal knowledge and practical skills-building divided into chapters based on areas of practice, this book will help paralegals develop their expertise.
Notary Public Guidebook for North Carolina – Paralegals assume many roles in practice, which frequently requires paralegals to perform notary acts. Published by the University of North Carolina School of Government and regularly updated to include new laws and standards, the Notary Public Guidebook provides practice guidelines, discussions of ethical considerations, and recommendations for establishing logs for notary acts.
Fundamentals of Litigation for Paralegals – This text guides paralegals through the litigation support process from pre-trial preparation to trial practice. Included are references to current rules and statutes with specific examples as well as explanations of the processes to establish jurisdiction. Paralegals will also benefit from the book’s discussions of arbitration and mediation in the litigation arena.
North Carolina Criminal Law and Procedure – Written by the editorial staff at LexisNexis and updated annually, this e-book provides legal practitioners with current and relevant statutes and rules for North Carolina criminal law. Designed around a topical index for quick location of needed information, the e-book also links to Lexis Advance for deeper legal research options.
North Carolina Real Estate Law – Real estate paralegals in North Carolina will find this reference for North Carolina real estate law indispensable. The text covers the foundations of real estate law and explains how these apply in practice as well as in theory while providing real-world examples throughout the text.
Paralegal Job Search Websites for North Carolina
The North Carolina Paralegal Association hosts a career center that allows non-members to view jobs. Association members may post resumes and create personal job alerts. You can also find North Carolina paralegal jobs on the Paralegal411 jobs board.
North Carolina Court Info
NCCourts.gov – The home portal to North Carolina courts at all levels provides quick links to court home pages, judicial forms search, and e-filings. Also provided are news alerts for updates to North Carolina laws and changes in court rules, fees, and other matters of interest to legal professionals.
NCAppellateCourts.org – The dedicated site for the North Carolina Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals functions as a document library as well as an electronic filing portal. Legal professionals can also track their current and past cases with the higher courts as far back as 1998.
Law Libraries in North Carolina
North Carolina Supreme Court Library – Located in downtown Raleigh, the North Carolina Supreme Court Library is open to registered users and authorized visitors. The library’s print holdings can be searched online to allow users to verify whether the library collection includes needed titles prior to visiting.
Charlotte School of Law – Boasting the largest collection of law resources in North Carolina, the Charlotte School of Law library is open to legal professionals through its membership program. Members have access to a print catalogue as well as to the library’s subscription databases and government databases.
University of North Carolina Kathrine R. Everett Law Library – Located on the main campus of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, this law library is open to legal professionals and members of the public. Professionals may register for a borrower’s card for circulation privileges. Print collections include holdings in international, federal, and state law as well as special collections and rare books.
Paralegal Associations in North Carolina
Catawba Valley Paralegal Association – The Catawba Valley Paralegal Association serves paralegals in the 25th Judicial District and surrounding counties. The association was founded to promote ethical and professional conduct in the legal profession while encouraging fellowship and networking. Annual dues are $30 for professional/general members, $25 for associate members, $20 for graduate associate members, and $15 for students.
Cumberland County Paralegal Association – Founded in 1976, the Cumberland County Paralegal Association seeks to promote education for and information sharing between members of the legal professions. The association holds monthly meetings and other networking events in and around Fayetteville. Dues are $30 for general and associate members and $20 for students.
Guilford Paralegal Association – The Guilford Paralegal Association is an affiliate of the North Carolina Paralegal Association and the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). The association serves Guilford County and surrounding areas and holds regular monthly meetings, guest speaker engagements, and continuing education opportunities. Annual dues are $50 for general members and $30 for associate members.
Metrolina Paralegal Association – Since 1981 the Metrolina Paralegal Association has been serving paralegals and legal assistants across the greater Charlotte area. The organization is an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and is active in promoting opportunities such as scholarships and internships for paralegal students. The association is well-supported through its network of sponsors and patrons.
North Carolina Paralegal Association – The North Carolina Paralegal Association is a statewide organization that promotes the paralegal profession. The association was formed in 1980 and has an expansive educational and information network consisting of law firms, attorneys, paralegals, legal assistants, and other legal professionals. Interested individuals may apply to become a member in one of seven membership categories, each of which carries exclusive member benefits.
Raleigh-Wake Paralegal Association – Founded in 1979, the Raleigh-Wake Paralegal Association has over 150 members on its roster. Legal professionals and paralegal students in Wake County or Research Triangle Park are eligible to join for access to networking and continuing education opportunities held in downtown Raleigh. General membership dues are $50 per year. The first year of membership is free for current paralegal students.
Research Triangle Paralegal Association – The Research Triangle Paralegal Association was established in 2002 to provide an alternate, closer association for paralegals working in Research Triangle Park. This active association hosts twice monthly lunch meetings designed to promote personal and professional growth. Membership categories include General, Associate, Patron, and Sustaining.
1. North Carolina Department of Commerce: http://www.nccommerce.com/research-publications/industry-economy/workforce-analyses
2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2014 Occupational Outlook Handbook, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm#tab-6
3. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates,
North Carolina: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nc.htm
4. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
5. American Bar Association Standing Committee on Paralegals: http://apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/paralegals/directory/nc.html
6. North Carolina State Bar Plan for Certification of Paralegals: http://www.nccertifiedparalegal.org/