Friday, June 21, 2013

Tri-County Introduces Paralegal Certificate Program, Open House Set for July 18


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            6/21/2013

                                                                                                (By Lisa Garrett)

            PENDLETON --- When Tri-County Technical College Criminal Justice program coordinator/instructor Chris McFarlin was practicing law in Arkansas, he says a paralegal was critical to the success of his practice. 

            "She was very valuable to me. The general consensus among attorneys is paralegals are critical to any practice because they administer support by performing research for attorneys, assisting with drafting legal documents and managing the law office," he said. 

            "If you can find a paralegal who is responsible, mature, meticulous and loyal, he or she is worth their weight in gold because attorneys are so dependent on them," he added.

            McFarlin spent the last year developing the curriculum for a paralegal certificate program that will be brand new at Tri-County this fall.  Day and evening classes will be held on the Pendleton Campus.  All courses will be taught by McFarlin, local practicing attorneys and seasoned paralegals in the area.

            The program is designed to give students an introduction to paralegal work, with classes in civil and criminal law, legal research, drafting legal memos and legal ethics.

            The 39-credit program will accept 25 students, with any associate degree being the prerequisite.  There will be an Open House July 18 from 6:30 - 8 p.m. in Pickens Hall on the Pendleton Campus.  Interested persons can meet with faculty, hear an overview of the program and learn about job opportunities in the Upstate.

            "Paralegals must be detailed, focused and project a professional demeanor because they are an agent of the attorney. They must have good communication skills, be prepared to meet with clients with and without an attorney's presence and have good organizational skills.  They also must deal with deadlines efficiently," said Tom Lawrence, public services department head/criminal justice instructor at Tri-County.

            The job market looks good for paralegals, added Lawrence, with a projected job growth of 18 percent over the next 10 years.  "Attorneys' offices need paralegal support because of the volume of paperwork associated with litigation and legal services," he explained. 

            "Paralegals do the bulk of the legal paperwork and prep work for cases, giving the attorney time the practice law and go to court," said McFarlin.  "It's financially advantageous for the client because a paralegal's services are less than an attorney's fees.  Paralegal services give the attorney time and the client money," said McFarlin, who was a police officer for six and a half years in Arkansas and currently is a reserve deputy for the Pickens County Sheriff's Office.  McFarlin earned a law degree and worked as an assistant district attorney. He later founded and was managing attorney for McFarlin Law Firm PLLC before moving to South Carolina to accept the job at Tri-County.

            "I was interested in this job at Tri-County because it was a full-time teaching position.  Working as an adjunct instructor in Arkansas helped me to discover that teaching is my passion," he said.

            "I was excited for the opportunity to research and develop this new program for the College. It's the best of both worlds.  The cross over of teaching law and criminal justice is very appealing."

            McFarlin says the College will seek American Bar Association accreditation, the gold standard for legal education, after a degree program has been in existence for two years. 

            "We are working towards a degree program, as well," he added.

            For more information, contact Chris McFarlin at 646-1327 or


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