The new program should not disrupt current employment of paralegals.
The South Carolina Supreme Court, acting on the request of the Chief Justice Toal’s Commission on the Profession, adopted a voluntary program for paralegal certification on November 12.
The stated purpose of the program is to assist in the delivery of legal services to the public by identifying individuals who are qualified by education, training and experience and who have demonstrated knowledge, skill and proficiency to perform substantive legal work under the supervision of licensed attorneys.
The program is voluntary in that the Court’s directive makes it clear that no person will be required to be certified as a paralegal to be employed by a lawyer as a paralegal. Thankfully, this program should not disrupt any South Carolina lawyer’s current employment of paralegals. Dirt lawyers are already in a transition period because of the new CFPB rules. Adding a mandatory paralegal certification may have pushed some of us over the proverbial edge!
At the time of an application to be a “South Carolina Certified Paralegal”, the individual must be designated as a Certified Legal Assistant (CLA)/Certified Paralegal (CP) or PACE-Registered Paralegal (RP). The designation is valid for a one-year period. To qualify for renewal, an applicant must obtain twelve hours of approved continuing paralegal education (CPE), at least one hour of which shall be devoted to the areas of professional responsibility or professionalism. Any CLE program approved for lawyers in South Carolina will be acceptable for CPE, but other programs may be approved as well.
The Court’s order establishes a Board of Paralegal Certification which will, among its other duties, prepare and publish applications and other forms to facilitate this program. Regulations for the program may be established by the Court or the board.