Paralegal Technology

The Paralegal Technology curriculum prepares you to perform legal tasks and assist lawyers with many types of legal work. A paralegal does not practice law, give legal advice, or represent clients in a court of law but they can assist with any type of legal work that a lawyer does. The Paralegal Technology program's primary goal is to provide you with the legal knowledge and practical skills necessary to become a competent, ethical professional.

Paralegals play an important role in allowing lawyers to provide high-quality, reasonably priced legal services. As a result, it is a fast-growing field. Paralegals, sometimes also called legal assistants, work in law firms, government agencies, business organizations, and anywhere else that a lawyer might work. After completing a two-year degree, many paralegals go on to get a bachelor's degree and some even go to law school. For more information about the Paralegal Technology program and to find out whether the AAS or Certificate would be the better fit for you, scroll down to the Frequently Asked Questions at the bottom of this page.

Credentialing Options

Frequently Asked Questions

You will need to follow the general enrollment process for GTCC.  During the advising process you will have the opportunity to indicate your desire to study within this curriculum. Your advisor will help you sign up for the specific courses you need.

Lisa Johnson-Tonkins is an attorney-at-law who has been a member of the North Carolina Bar since 2003. Johnson-Tonkins is currently the elected Clerk of Superior Court for Guilford County and prior to being Clerk, she was an Assistant District Attorney for 8 1/2 years. She earned her Juris Doctorate from North Carolina Central School of Law in May of 2003. She is also a 1994 graduate of North Carolina A&T State University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in public relations with a minor in Spanish. Johnson-Tonkins began her legal career as a paralegal prior to attending law school and joined the law firm of Hunter, Higgins, Miles, Elam and Benjamin, PLLC (now Higgins Benjamin) shortly after successfully passing the NC Bar Exam in 2003. 

Pamela E. Hollern is an attorney-at-law and the director of the paralegal program.  She has taught at GTCC since 2012 and her specialties include legal research and writing and civil litigation.  She earned her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and graduated cum laude from Arizona State University’s School of Law.  She was the Note & Comment editor of the "Arizona State Law Journal" and was a legal research and writing instructor for first year law students.  She took and passed the bar exam in Arizona, Ohio, and North Carolina and received the top score on the Ohio bar exam. She practiced commercial litigation at prominent large law firms in Phoenix, Arizona and Cleveland, Ohio. Hollern left the practice of law to work for Thomson Reuters, training large law firm attorneys and paralegals on the online legal research tool, Westlaw.  She was one of the top account representatives, earning a trip to Boston for her efforts. In 2006, the Ohio native moved to Greensboro and practiced law at a boutique business firm before starting her employment at GTCC.

Robert S. Payne is an attorney-at-law who received his BA in Political Science from UNC-Chapel Hill. After four years in the Air Force, he attended and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill Law School. Following admission to the North Carolina Bar, Payne practiced law with an emphasis on civil litigation, and a concentration in landlord-tenant law, fair housing, and advocacy before administrative agencies. He has worked in a variety of legal settings, including as an attorney with Legal Services, as a sole practitioner, in a large private law firm, and in state and local government agencies. Payne has represented clients before every level of court from small claims to the United States Supreme Court. At every stage of his career, he has hired, trained and supervised paralegals. Since 2000, Payne has been a full-time associate professor and an adjunct instructor in the paralegal program at Guilford Technical Community College, teaching face-to-face and online classes.

Damon Duncan is an attorney-at-law and a board-certified specialist in consumer bankruptcy. He is a managing partner at Duncan Law, LLP which has offices in Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Charlotte, and Salisbury, North Carolina. In addition to practicing law, he is an adjunct professor at Elon University School of Law, a member of the Board of Governors of the North Carolina Bar Association, and a member of the Greensboro Bar Association. Duncan formerly served as chair of the Law Practice Management and Technology Section of the North Carolina Bar Association and secretary of the Greensboro Bar Association. He is a graduate of Elon University and Elon University School of Law as well as the North Carolina Bar Association's Leadership Academy.

Kathy Ronnenberg is an attorney-at-law and professor in the paralegal technology department where she has been an adjunct faculty member since 2016. Ronnenberg earned her undergraduate degree at Metropolitan State University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. She received her Juris Doctorate degree from the T.C. Williams School of Law, at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia. She practiced law in Tampa, Florida, where she represented parties in both civil and criminal matters She is a member of the Florida Bar and a certified civil and family law mediator. Ronnenberg provides mediation services with a focus on family law and workers’ compensation cases. She is active in the legal community and sits on the board of directors for an adoption agency in Tampa, Fla.

Heather McCorkle is an attorney-at-law who has been a member of the North Carolina State Bar since 2012.  She is also a member of the United States District Court, Western Division. She received her undergraduate degree, a Bachelor of Science degree in political science with a concentration in pre-legal studies from Appalachian State University. She continued her education and obtained her Juris Doctorate degree from Elon University School of Law.  After graduating in 2012, she began her legal career at Legal Aid of North Carolina where she worked primarily in housing litigation and had the opportunity to litigate in all levels of state court and Federal District Court. She transitioned into government work in 2016 and began practicing juvenile law in state court advocating on behalf of abused, neglected and/or dependent children.  She continues this same work in the Guilford County Attorney’s Office where she serves as a deputy county attorney. 

Courtney Roller is an attorney-at-law who has managed her own law firm, Roller Law, PLLC, since 2014. Her law practice is located in Davidson County and focuses primarily on family law and domestic civil litigation. Roller is also trained in collaborative (non-adversarial) divorce. She is a graduate of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Leadership Academy and a former secretary of the Judicial District 22B Bar Association. In 2019, she was featured in "Business North Carolina" magazine as a "Legal Elite" — a listing of the best North Carolina lawyers as voted on by their peers — in both categories for Family Law and Young Guns (lawyers under 40). Roller is a graduate of the UNC-Chapel Hill and Elon University School of Law. She currently serves as the chair of the Family Services of Davidson County Board of Directors.

Precious Vines Harris is a licensed attorney, and currently serves as the program director and full-time instructor for the paralegal technology program at Durham Technical Community College. She has been licensed to practice law for 17 years. In addition, Precious has been a legal educator for the past 14 years, working within both the North Carolina Community College System, as well as private colleges. Precious holds a Juris Doctorate from North Carolina Central University School of Law. She holds a master's degree in human services, with a concentration in nonprofit management from Capella University, and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from North Carolina Central University. She has been admitted to practice in the United States Federal Court-Eastern District Admission. Precious has worked for various law firms, in addition to having her own law practice. Some of her practice and consulting areas have included general civil, criminal, disability, family, and real estate. Precious currently serves on the paralegal certification committee. She was recently appointed to the Board of Paralegal Certification, with the North Carolina State Bar. Her motto is, "If you are able to serve in the profession you are passionate about, learning never ceases."

Selina Royal Dougherty is a paralegal who has been a North Carolina State Bar certified paralegal since 2005 and is also a member of the North Carolina Bar Association Paralegal Division council. She earned her paralegal Associate Degree in 2003 from GTCC, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice with a minor in sociology from High Point University in 2007, and earned a Master of Science degree in criminal justice from the University of Cincinnati in 2015. She worked at the district attorney’s office in High Point while finishing her degree from High Point University as a DA investigator intern and after graduation in 2007 began working at the U.S. attorney’s office in Greensboro, N.C., as a Paralegal III in the asset forfeiture department. In 2008 she began working part-time at GTCC as an adjunct instructor in the paralegal department until obtaining a position as the lead instructor of paralegal technology at Surry Community College in 2016 until she retired in 2022. In the fall of 2023, she returned part-time as an adjunct instructor at GTCC. Dougherty is also a Quality Matters online certified instructor.

Financial aid is available if you qualify. Please visit the Financial Aid web page or contact the Financial Aid office at 336-334-4822. Select Option 3.

Financial Aid FAQ’s for Certificate Students with Bachelor’s Degrees1:

Am I eligible for financial aid if I enroll in the Paralegal Technology Certificate?

 Yes.  You are eligible for financial aid if you are taking 6 or more credit hours and meet all eligibility requirements for aid.

What types of financial aid am I eligible for?

 You will be eligible for student loans, work study, or scholarships.  You will not be eligible for federal or state grants.

If I enroll in and take all 18 credits of the Paralegal Technology Certificate in the Fall will I receive a full financial aid award?

No. Because you will only be enrolled for one semester, your loan amount will be prorated. However, depending on how much you decide to borrow, it should be enough to cover your classes and books.

If I enroll in the Paralegal Technology Certificate in the Spring and only take some of the classes am I eligible for financial aid?

Yes. You are eligible for financial aid if you are taking 6 or more credit hours.  Note you will have to fill out a financial aid application (FAFSA) for the Spring semester and then a renewal for the Fall semester to receive an award in two separate academic years.

When can I apply for financial aid?

 You can apply for financial aid starting on October 1 with a deadline of May 1 for priority applications.  While it is advised that you apply for financial aid as early as possible, financial aid applications are accepted year round on a rolling basis.

1 This is for informational purposes only and is subject to change.  Meet with a Financial Aid Advisor to discuss the specifics of your situation.  If you are a Certificate Student with an A.A. or A.S. degree and have not previously earned a bachelor’s degree, you must enroll in 12 credits to be considered full-time and the above FAQ’s do not apply to you.

To become a North Carolina Certified Paralegal you need to graduate from a North Carolina Qualified Paralegal Program and take and pass the certification exam.  GTCC’s Paralegal Technology Program is proud to be a North Carolina Qualified Program.  More information about the certification exam can be found at North Carolina State Bar - Paralegal Certification

GTCC’s Paralegal Program offers some online classes but does not offer an online-only path to graduation.  Online programs are not qualified by the North Carolina State Bar, so students graduating from online only programs cannot become North Carolina Certified Paralegals.  We strongly encourage our graduates to take the voluntary exam.  We also offer night classes in the Paralegal Program for those students unable to attend classes during the day.

The Paralegal Technology AAS degree is open to individuals holding at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. In order to complete this degree option, students are required to complete 64-68 credit hours, which includes college level general education requirements, in addition to substantive and procedural legal specialty coursework. Students who complete this program will receive an Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal Technology.

The Paralegal Technology Certificate is open to individuals holding a bachelor’s degree or an AS degree from an accredited college or university. In order to complete this degree option, students will be required to complete 18 credit hours, which is comprised primarily of legal specialty coursework. Students who complete this program will receive a Paralegal Technology Certificate and are qualified to sit for the North Carolina voluntary certification exam.

The full 18-credit Paralegal Technology Certificate is only offered in the Fall, but you can enroll in the Paralegal Technology Certificate and begin taking classes in either the Fall or Spring.  Keep in mind that many Paralegal Technology classes are only offered every other semester.  To determine which classes to take refer to the certificate advising handout.

The time that it takes to complete the program depends on the number of semester hours you complete every semester, which will vary for each individual depending on work, family, and other obligations. The AAS degree Program is a total of 64-68 hours, therefore if you attend school full-time (16-18 credits per semester), you should be able to complete the AAS degree Program in two years (including one summer term). The Certificate Program is 18 credits and can be completed in one full-time semester.  You will only be able to complete the Program within these time periods if you follow the suggested course sequence for each degree option. There is no requirement that a student complete the program in a set time period. Our students have varied circumstances which allow for some to complete the Program faster than others. You should speak with an Advisor to help you determine your semester workload and course sequencing.

It may be possible to reduce the number of required courses by receiving transfer credit or it may take longer if you need to complete pre-college developmental work in English.

The Paralegal Technology Program is located on the Greensboro Campus at 3505 E. Wendover Ave., Greensboro, N.C. 27405. All paralegal courses are offered on the Greensboro campus, however, your General Education courses could be taken on another campus, such as Jamestown or High Point.

GTCC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges (COC) to award associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates. There is no accrediting body for paralegal programs. The Paralegal Technology program is an institutional member of the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE). Approval for membership in AAfPE serves as public recognition that our program is in substantial compliance with ABA standards. We are also a Qualified Paralegal Studies Program by the North Carolina State Bar, meaning graduates of GTCC’s Paralegal Technology Program can take the state paralegal certification exam.