Paralegal Schools in Charleston, SC
The law is a fascinating subject and working in it can provide a challenging but very satisfying career. For some however seven to ten years of schooling is not something they want, or are able, to undertake in order to become an attorney. There is a viable alternative though: becoming a paralegal via attending a an accredited paralegal programs in one of the many paralegal/legal assistants schools in South Carolina.
Paralegals, also known as legal assistants, are essential members of many types of legal teams, from corporate white-shoe law firms to non-profit, personal injury, immigration, and family law practices to government legal departments and more.
Since formal education at paralegal schools in Charleston, SC can be completed in as little as two years - often even less - becoming a paralegal is a viable option for those who want a career in the legal profession but do not want to go to law school.
What does a paralegal do?
These days almost everything and anything involved in their supervising attorney's practice of their particular branch of the law. Among other things, this may include legal research, legal document preparation, client liaison, and court document preparation. Some paralegals go on to lead their own team of paralegals and even manage law offices as well.
Individuals working as paralegals in South Carolina are not required to have a formal license, or a special certification, but they must operate under the guidance of a bar admitted attorney, who is then responsible for their conduct, including any negative legal consequences that result from their paralegal's actions.
As a result, many law firms tend to recruit legal assistants who have received formal training. A national paralegal credential is also available, with NALA's offering being the most common.
However, most employers value completion of a certificate or degree program, particularly in a corporate law setting, the most.
Charleston Paralegal Salaries
Completing a formal education program at one of the paralegal schools in Charleston, SC can take anywhere from six months to two years or more, and while more affordable than law school still represents a significant investment of time and money. So, in terms of salary and job prospects is it worth it?
The average annual salary earned by a paralegal in Charleston, South Carolina is, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics1, $46,540. This is lower than the national average2 of $55,020, but still a good wage.
Earnings will depend of course on the branch of law a paralegal works in and their experience level. While the top 10% of earners can expect to earn, on average, $72,000 or more, inexperienced legal assistants in the bottom 10% of earners may only earn around $27,100.
Growth prospects are good. As more firms make greater use of paralegals for cost purposes the BLS3 expects an 8% growth in jobs between 2016 and 2026.
Paralegal Schools in Charleston, SC
Trident Technical College
A private technical college offering a wide range of traditional two-year degree programs, Trident Technical College offers both an Associates in Applies Science Degree and a Post Degree Certificate in Paralegal Studies. Admission to either program is based on previous academic performance, with a minimum of a high school diploma or GED and 3.0 GPA required for admission to the AAS program and an accredited degree for the Certificate. The legal component is the same for both programs, and it encompasses all the knowledge needed to work as a paralegal, with an emphasis on corporate law. The program has been approved by the American Bar Association since 1993, which is a high honor for such an offering. Tuition is charged according to a student's residence, income, and family situation. The school advises scheduling a meeting with an admissions' counselor to determine yours. Most students make use of federal financial aid to pay for their education.
Technical College of the Lowcountry
Technical College of the Lowcountry is a private college offering a wide variety of two-year degree programs at affordable rates to Charleston County residents. For those interested in becoming a paralegal they offer a two-year, campus based AAS degree in Paralegal Studies that is approved by both the approved by the American Bar Association and the South Carolina Bar Association. The comprehensive program covers all aspects of a paralegal's duties and offers a special focus on the skills required to work in a corporate law environment. In addition to campus-based classwork students are required to complete an externship with a local employer prior to graduation. The cost of the program is charged on a per-credit basis and varies according to a student's personal circumstances. Most students pay for their schooling via federal financial aid and a limited number may qualify for state workforce grants.
South Carolina Paralegal Resources
Charleston Association of Legal Assistants
South Carolina Upstate Paralegal Association
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, South Carolina: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_sc.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm#tab-5