A coastal state with a lot of charm and history, South Carolina is a great place to live and work. For anyone looking for a legal career in South Carolina, an exciting option is becoming a paralegal. As supportive professionals, paralegals are responsible for tasks that allow attorneys to successfully represent their clients.
If you wish to become a South Carolina paralegal, you must start by pursuing an education in paralegal studies. Although it is not required in this state, a paralegal studies degree can give you a leg up on the competition.
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How to Become a Paralegal in South Carolina
- Certification: South Carolina law firms may prefer that their paralegals have achieved national certification, but it is not required by the state.
- Age: A South Carolina paralegal needs to be over 18 years of age.
- Licensure: There are no existing licensing requirements or guidelines for South Carolina paralegals.
- Degree: A degree in paralegal studies is a good choice for anyone interested in this legal profession. Your degree can be at the associate’s or bachelor’s level and should be earned at an institution approved by the American Bar Association.
- Experience: You should acquire work experience before seeking employment as a paralegal, which can be done during a degree based internship or through legal volunteering.
- Citizenship: Citizens of the United States and legal aliens are able to work as paralegals in South Carolina.
- Background Check: It is common for South Carolina paralegals to undergo a background check prior to employment.
- Ethics: Paralegal ethical standards should be followed throughout your career.
Certification Process in South Carolina
South Carolina, like many states, does not offer a state-level certification for paralegals, which is why many paralegals attempt certification at the national level. National certification organizations can include National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) and the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).
Certification with the NFPA or the NALA is strictly voluntary in South Carolina. However, many law firms will make their hiring decisions based on whether applicants have made the effort to become certified. Achieving national certification will make it easier for you to find employment after you have finished your paralegal education.
Degrees Related to Paralegals
If you want to learn everything required to become a successful paralegal, you need to enroll in a paralegal studies program from an ABA approved educational institution. These programs are focused on the skills and knowledge that make for successful paralegals. While you can choose to become a paralegal after earning an unrelated degree, you should be sure to take courses that are related to the profession.
Major Cities in South Carolina
- Columbia is the largest South Carolina city with a population of 133,358.
- Charleston has a population of 127,999 residents, making it the second most populous South Carolina city.
- North Charleston is third in terms of population with 104,054 residents.
What Does a Paralegal Do in South Carolina?
South Carolina paralegals are employed to handle much of the day to day operations associated with a law firm. They are support professionals who assist attorneys by researching evidence for cases, maintaining contact with clients, writing necessary legal documents, handling exhibits during trials and filing important court documents.
A few careers that are related to being a paralegal can include claims adjusters, title examiners, legal secretaries and legal assistants.
Employment Numbers in South Carolina
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has documented that there were 4,870 paralegals employed in South Carolina in May of 2015.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Salary Ranges in South Carolina
A paralegal in Columbia can make a yearly salary of $43,060. In Charleston and North Charleston, the typical annual salary for a paralegal is $46,020.