Frequently Asked Questions
What is a paralegal?
As the concept of “paralegal” is a relatively new one in South Africa, the first question that arises is: “What is a paralegal?” Paralegals or Legal Assistants are people who, though not qualified as legal practitioners, are able to function in a legal environment. Paralegal training provides such a person with basic knowledge of the legal principles relevant to the field in which they are working. As a result they are able to work independently and to perform specifically delegated legal tasks.
What is the difference between the Senior Paralegal Diploma and the Commercial Law Diploma Course?
Either the Senior Paralegal Diploma or the Commercial Law Diploma is awarded to students who fulfill the requirements of all six prescribed short certificate courses. Both diplomas consist of the same modules with the same study content. The difference between them comes at examination where emphasis is placed on Property Law & Conveyancing for obtaining the Senior Paralegal Diploma, and on Business Law for obtaining the Commercial Law Diploma. It is recommended that a student choose at the beginning of his studies which diploma course he/she prefers, but he/she may change to the other diploma during the course of his/her studies, provided that at the end, such a student complies with the requirements of the specific diploma at examination.
What are the entrance requirements?
Students must –
- be in possession of a valid matric pass; OR
- have not less than three years’ work experience.
- They must further have the ability to read, write and communicate well in English.
What is the duration of the exams and the percentage needed to pass?
The duration of each exam is 2 hours. A student must obtain 50% for each short certificate.
What if I fail?
You can re-write the exam when the subject is held again, that is at the end of the following term. However, the normal examination fees for the re-examination will be payable.
What are the career opportunities after I complete my paralegal studies?
Apart from the obvious possibility of working independently for one’s own account in a paralegal practice, numerous employment opportunities exist for Paralegals. The career section of the local newspapers will usually show that the marketplace is looking for the services of Paralegals in many areas. The skills of a Paralegal are an asset in any legal environment, in both the public and private sector. Paralegals can function as legal assistants to:
- legal practitioners (attorneys, conveyancers, advocates)
- judges, magistrates, prosecutors and state attorneys
- banks and corporations
- estate agents and property managers
- insurance companies
- community based law clinics, community centres and advice offices
- consultants (legal advisers, tax advisers & property managers)
- public/civil service departments (administration at local, provincial & national level)
What characteristics are required to be a successful Paralegal?
To be successful, the personal characteristics which a Paralegal should combine with substantive legal knowledge are:
- resourceful and independent personality
- honesty and integrity
- the ability to communicate effectively
Are course fees deductible in terms of the Skills Development Act 97 of 1998 ?
Course fees paid by an employer for the training of an employee will entitle the employer to recover such expenditure (or part thereof) as a grant against the levy payment paid over to the Department of Labour. All our courses are short certificate courses and fall under the category Grant “C”, in terms of the Regulations issued under the Skills Development Act of 1998. Grant “C” provides that: “An employer who is approved for Grant “A” and Grant “B” may claim a further grant of 20 per cent of the total levy payment by the employer for the implementation of the training specified in the workplace skills plan.” (However, we shall not be liable for a different interpretation hereof by any government official or department).
Our leading role regarding paralegal training in South Africa.
The Standards Governing Body for Legal Education and Training with the South African Qualifications Authority was briefed to review, develop and generate qualifications and standards in the legal and education and training sphere. Dr Günter Pabst, Chief-Principal of the SA School of Paralegal Studies, was appointed as member of the Standards Governing Body for Legal Education and Training with SAQA to assist in this process. It confirms our leading role regarding paralegal training in South Africa, and our commitment and ability in the setting of standards in this field.