Legal Assistant Certificate Program
The degree and certificate programs are designed to prepare students to serve as legal assistants in law offices, corporations, and public agencies. The Legal Assistant is a paraprofessional who, under the supervision of an attorney, performs specifically delegated substantive legal work that may ethically be performed by a non-lawyer. The terms legal assistant and paralegal are interchangeable.
Both the degree and certificate programs provide students with a general background in the major areas of law practiced in law offices, and train students to prepare the necessary documents involved, such as probate forms, title reviews, closing documents, pleadings and discovery proceedings, legal memoranda, corporate filings and minutes, thereby permitting an attorney to perform legal services more efficiently and economically.
Skillful use of the English language and a high level of verbal and written competence are essential for successful completion of the Legal Assistant courses. Students must be eligible for
Approval of the Program Coordinator is necessary for admission to either Legal Assistant Program.
Unauthorized Practice of Law
Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law.
Upon successful completion of the degree or certificate program requirements, graduates will be able to:
- Demonstrate reasoning and analytical skills in the application of legal concepts to the issues faced day-to-day in a law office;
- Understand the ethical issues involved in working as a paraprofessional in the legal field;
- Apply basic knowledge from social sciences, arts, literature, science and mathematics to understand and create solutions to problems encountered in the legal field;
- Acquire, organize and present information effectively orally and in writing;
- Research legal issues, both in the traditional manner and through computer research, identifying applicable statutes, regulations and case law;
- Demonstrate the writing skills necessary to work in a law office;
- Gather information and interview clients and witnesses in a meaningful manner in support of the particular casework involved;
- Understand and prepare real estate closing documents such as deeds, mortgages, settlement statements and title insurance binders;
- Gather information and prepare estate inventories, inheritance tax forms or prepare court documents in divorce and other family law proceedings;
- Understand the trial process and draft and answer complaints and other pleadings and discovery documents such as interrogatories and requests for production;
- Understand the administrative process and how to interface with administrative agencies and respond to information requests by agencies and to prepare and file administrative claims;
- Demonstrate an understanding of the various different business organizations and how to prepare the documents to establish, incorporate or organize them;
- Know and understand the functions and benefits of membership in local and national paralegal associations;
- Possess the eligibility requirements for taking the Certified Legal Assistant Examination (CLA), a private, non-mandatory certification offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants; and
- Display the ability to work in a law office and the traits and attitudes necessary for a successful career as a paralegal.
The Certificate Program has been prepared for and is open only to those who have a Bachelor's or an Associate degree with a minimum of eighteen (18) liberal arts credits. The program consists of the Legal Assistant courses and Business Law I and Business Law II.
* May be waived at the discretion of the Coordinator for a student currently working in a permanent position as a legal assistant and a Liberal Arts elective substituted.