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Professional Development and Enrichment Programs

Paralegal Certificate Program

Spring Session: January 27–June 6, 2015

Get on the fast track to becoming a paralegal. Market demand for paralegals has grown significantly in the last thirty years, and is expected to continue growing in the future. While demand is rising, so is competition for the best jobs in the field. Through UNC-Chapel Hill’s Paralegal Certificate Program, you’ll be competitively positioned to step into the fast-growing paralegal job market with a certificate from one of the nation’s top public universities.

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 18.3 percent employment growth for paralegals between 2010 and 2020”—US News and World Report

The North Carolina State Bar has designated UNC-Chapel Hill as a qualified paralegal studies program. UNC-Chapel Hill is a member of the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE). Upon completion of this program, you will be prepared for the North Carolina State Bar Paralegal Certification Exam. The UNC Paralegal Program is consistently among the highest-ranked programs in the NC State Bar’s report of Certification Exam passage rates. For more information, see North Carolina Paralegal Certification. and the North Carolina Paralegal Association website.


Spring Session: January 27–June 6, 2015

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.


headshotSteven A. McCloskey
Lead Instructor

Steve McCloskey received a Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Tech in 1974. From 1974 to 1978, he was a police officer in Greensboro, NC. He then spent several years in real estate and entered the School of Law at North Carolina Central University in 1996. He earned his JD degree, cum laude, from NC Central in 1999. Since 1999, McCloskey has had a law practice in Winston-Salem, where he concentrates in the areas of torts and contract law. McCloskey has taught paralegal studies since 2004, and has appeared as a guest lecturer for the NC Paralegal Association. He is currently writing his first book, involving the origin and development of substantive due process from 1880 to 1938.

“My passions are the law and teaching, and I am fortunate to be able to combine them in offering this Paralegal Certificate program with UNC-Chapel Hill. I went to law school relatively late, and so I appreciate how important it is for people to have the opportunity to change career paths, which can translate into changing one's life path. Helping students to learn about the law, and knowing they are using that knowledge to thrive in their new profession, is a privilege and a joy. I invite you to join us for the UNC Paralegal Program … and change your life forever.”

—Steve McCloskey, Lead Instructor

“I have enormous respect for Steve McCloskey—a bright and enthusiastic former student, a skilled legal practitioner, and an experienced teacher. He is legally knowledgeable, personally engaging, wise, and humane. He will be an outstanding paralegal instructor.”

—Jack Boger, Dean, UNC School of Law

niemanJohn Nieman
Criminal Law

After graduating from the North Carolina Central School of Law, John Nieman began his legal career as a sole practitioner in Chapel Hill. He then served as a prosecutor with the Guilford County District Attorney's Office, and later became a member of the litigation department at the law firm of Donaldson and Black in Greensboro, NC.  In 2004 he joined the Office of the Public Defender in Guilford County. John Nieman’s primary area of practice has been criminal law. John has been teaching criminal law, family law, contracts, torts, and property law to paralegals since 1995. He was formerly on the faculty of the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys, where he taught trial advocacy and evidence and co-created the evidence curriculum still being used for new prosecutors in North Carolina.


Christine E. Broucek

Christine Broucek attended the University of Kansas School of Law where she served as a staff editor for the Kansas Journal of Law and Public Policy.  She obtained her Juris Doctorate in December 1995. She is licensed to practice law in both Kansas and Arizona. Christine worked as an associate in the commercial litigation department at Bryan Cave, LLP in Phoenix and also as a family law associate with Kendhammer & Colburn, LLP. From 2005 until 2008, Christine served as an advisory board member for the Phoenix chapter of Girls for a Change and in 2008–2009 served as the advisory board chairwoman. In 2009, Christine was asked to participate on the Rio Salado College Paralegal Advisory Committee, where she assisted with the development of an online paralegal certification program. In conjunction with her role as an advisory committee member, Christine wrote and developed four paralegal courses for Rio Salado including Legal Foundations for Paralegals, Fundamentals of Litigation, Elder Law, and Family Law. She currently teaches all four courses for the College. In 2011, Christine taught Ethics for Paralegals at Phoenix College Legal Studies Department. In addition, Christine has assisted with legal writing projects for Wolters Kluwer Law & Business Publishing.

Christine obtained her BA in history from San Diego State University and her paralegal certificate from the University of San Diego in 1990. Prior to attending law school, she worked as a class action paralegal for Snell & Wilmer in Phoenix, Arizona.

Christine retired from litigation practice in 2008 to teach and pursue writing projects. She moved to Cary, North Carolina in 2011, where she lives with her husband, four children, and miscellaneous pets. In addition to teaching, Christine is working on her first novel.

Course Content

The Paralegal Certificate Program consists of approximately 300 hours of overall academic engagement (including approximately 190 in-class hours and a minimum of 110 hours for completing assignments) over a period of nineteen weeks. The content is organized into a Paralegal Skills course, five Law courses, and two Survey courses.

See Overview of the Paralegal Certificate Program.

Paralegal 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. 


“The Paralegal Program offers a ‘bag of goodies’ you can offer an employer. The Friday Center allows you to stick your toe in the water on a career path without making a huge time investment—that’s an ideal setup for adult learners. I came to Friday Center for education but I found inspiration.”—Tania Osborn, Graduate

“After extensive research and consideration I chose UNC-Chapel Hill’s Paralegal Certificate Program to further my career. The program is well organized and has a wonderfully supportive staff that met all my needs. UNC’s Paralegal Instructors provided me with the instruction and advice I needed to give me the confidence to obtain a desirable position and sustain my career in the legal field. The program taught me the skills & knowledge needed for me to be successful in any area of law. Nine weeks into my coursework I was fortunate enough to be hired as a worker’s compensation paralegal by one of North Carolina’s most prestigious law firms. I’m proud to announce I am a UNC-Chapel Hill Paralegal Certificate Program graduate!”—Emily Crawford Theriault, Graduate


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.

Course Dates

Beginning January 27, classes will be held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6 pm to 10 pm. Saturday classes are from 9 am to 4 pm. June 6 is graduation day.

Students will not be permitted to enter the program after February 10.

Entrance Requirements

Students are required to have a minimum of an associate’s degree in order to enroll in the program.

Program Cost

The program cost is $5,495. This includes tuition, books, and supplies.

Payment is due upon enrollment, or a payment plan is available. If you choose the payment plan, you must register by telephone, fax, or mail.


Registration for this session is closed and the wait list is full. If you would like your name added to the listserv, contact Jill Conrad at

Refund Policy

A full tuition refund, less a $100 administrative fee, will be made to individuals who cancel at least one week before the start of classes. Cancellations must be received in writing. Refunds cannot be made after the start of classes.

Program Policies

Attendance:  Class attendance in the Paralegal Certificate Program is required. The in-class lectures expand on the required reading and provide students with information that is geared specifically to North Carolina law.  Students must attend at least 70 percent of the classes in each course to be eligible to take the examination for that course.  Students who fail to meet the 70 percent attendance requirement may be asked to leave the program.

Make-up work: Students are expected to complete all assignments in a timely manner. Requests for extensions of due dates must be made in writing in advance of the due date.

Tardiness: Occasional instances of tardiness may be excused at the discretion of the instructor. Students who have recurring tardiness problems are required to work with the instructor to resolve the situation.

Unsatisfactory performance: If a student’s performance is unsatisfactory, the instructor will counsel the student about the consequences. If, after counseling, the student fails to perform satisfactorily on assignments or exams, the student may be asked to leave the program.

Appropriate conduct:  Students may be dismissed from the program for conduct that is disruptive, unsatisfactory, or that would be considered unprofessional for a paralegal. At the discretion of UNC-Chapel Hill, a student who has been dismissed from the program for unsatisfactory conduct may be readmitted to a future program.

Readmission:  The Paralegal Certificate Program is intensive, and if a student is asked to leave the Program, he or she may not be readmitted for that same semester.

Grading System

The Paralegal Skills course includes three multiple-choice examinations as well as writing assignments. Examinations are graded on a numerical basis; writing assignments are graded on a pass/fail basis. The overall Paralegal Skills course is graded as pass/fail. The Law courses (Torts, Contracts, Criminal Law, Family Law, and Real Estate) are graded on a numerical or letter grade basis. 

Minimum satisfactory grades: Students must  achieve a grade of 70 percent in each Law course, a grade of 70 percent on each of the three Paralegal Skills multiple-choice exams, and a passing grade on each writing assignment. If a student does not achieve a passing grade of 70 percent on a test, the instructor may permit the student to retake the test.


For more information, or to add your name to our mailing list, contact:

Terri McGowan (, Program Coordinator
Professional Development and Enrichment Programs
The Friday Center
800-845-8640 or 919-962-3345

Hear from a student

chris johnson

“My confidence grew during the course. I discovered more of my strengths and became excited about moving forward in my career.”—Tania Osborne

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