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USC offering paralegal certificate in North Charleston

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For the 78 paralegal and legal assistant jobs available annually in the Lowcountry, only 33 degrees are awarded locally each year, a workforce study (.pdf) by Avalanche Consulting said.

The study that outlined the worker shortage was sponsored by the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce and Charleston Regional Development Alliance.

More paralegal education soon will be available in the Charleston region.

The University of South Carolina will offer a paralegal studies certificate program at the Lowcountry Graduate Center in North Charleston beginning next month, according to a news release.

“Our six-month program is ideal for individuals looking for a fast track into a career as a paralegal,” said Kate Shelton, the university’s director of continuing education and conferences, in the news release. “While challenging and extensive, we provide all of the resources you will need to succeed.”

The first six-month session will begin April 29 and run through Oct. 14. Initially, the program will be offered using two-way video, with instructors in Columbia teaching students remotely. As the number of enrolled students increases, the classes could be taught in person in North Charleston, the news release said.

Classes will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, and topics will include introduction to law, torts and personal injury, legal research and writing, civil litigation, contract law and family law, the news release said.

To be admitted to the program, students must have a four-year undergraduate degree or four years of professional work experience.

“Our informal research in the area indicates that law firms prefer for their paralegals to have an undergraduate degree because of the communications and critical thinking skills that this level of education provides,” LGC director Nancy Muller said in the news release.

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