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Who should attend
The paralegal program is designed for people seeking to enhance their careers or start a new one. This program builds on skills developed in non-legal fields, such as accounting, education and health care, to provide a better understanding of the legal system.
About the course
The Paralegal Studies Certificate Program is a rigorous educational experience focusing on the practical skills needed to succeed as a paralegal. The 17-week program includes legal fundamentals and core paralegal skills as well as substantive topics of law, including torts, contract, business organization and corporate law. To complete the certificate program, you must pass comprehensive exams covering a broad spectrum of knowledge and skills.
- Earn the credentials of a paralegal and a certificate from DePaul University in just 17 weeks.
- Learn from instructors who are experienced, practicing attorneys or paralegals.
- Study a curriculum created for paralegals by paralegals to teach the in-demand skills of the legal industry.
- Work a hypothetical case from demand letter through pre-trial resolution to gain valuable experience.
- Create a client file/portfolio of your work which can be used during interviews to represent the skills acquired through studies in the program.
- Gain the confidence and skills necessary to enter the workforce as a paralegal.
- Access to the following resources:
- An online communication hub where you can access lecture notes, writing labs, video tutorials, quizzes and mock exams while participating in postings and discussions with students and teachers
- Research sites such as LexisNexis and Westlaw to acquire legal research experience
- Fundamentals of the profession
- Clients and client file
- Legal terminology
- Legal process
- Court structure
- Legal ethics
- Legal research and writing
- Document preparation
- Interviewing and investigation
- Evidence and investigation
- Citing authority
- Pleadings and discovery
- Summons and complaints
- Trial practice
- Motion practice
- Use of LexisNexis and Westlaw
Substantive Topics of Torts, Contracts, Business Organizations
- Contract law–This portion of the course introduces students to fundamental contract theory and terminology and teaches simple analysis of contract problems.
- Tort law–This portion of the course deals with a class of civil wrongs or harms to people or property and the practical skills that paralegals need to help attorneys prepare to prosecute or defend civil matters from pre-filing through trial to post-trial motions.
- Business organizations and corporate law–This portion of the course teaches how business organizations are organized and business structures operate.
- Illinois court procedures–This portion of the course teaches the basic information on the court process in Illinois.
Required materials for the course can cost around $600 and are not included in your registration fee. The course requires four books. Approximately two weeks prior to the class start date, you will receive an email with the list of course materials and directions on purchasing the main book as well as suggestions on where to purchase the other three books.
Why has DePaul University chosen to offer a Certificate in Paralegal Studies?
When preparing for a career as a paralegal, you can choose to attend a four-year bachelor's degree program, a two-year associate's degree program or a paralegal certificate program. DePaul CPE has chosen to offer this program as a certificate for the following reasons:
Traditional degree options may be best for students considering applying to law school. However, certificate programs help individuals that have little or no work experience, or that have no future plans to obtain a law degree, by focusing the entire educational experience on paralegal skills. Most students enrolling in paralegal certificate programs are career changers or currently employed. The intensive evening format of our certificate program allows for career change while continuing current employment.
Certificate programs allow students to focus their studies in a particular professional area, enabling them to concentrate their learning experience. Longer degree programs usually require students to take courses in general studies not related to being a paralegal. Even though our program is in an intensive format, it provides comprehensive training in paralegal skills - even more so than longer programs that include general studies.
The intensive format allows DePaul to offer the program at a very reasonable price. With every minute of the program dedicated to paralegal training, we can offer this educational experience at a cost that will be affordable to most students.
Certificate programs train students in the specific skills being sought by employers. Based on the positive reception Chicago's legal community has given the DePaul Paralegal Studies Certificate Program, we believe graduates of the program will find themselves well prepared to meet the demands of a paralegal career.
Who teaches in the DePaul University Paralegal Studies Program?
Excellent instruction is the hallmark of DePaul University. We rely solely on legal professionals with excellent teaching abilities, including attorneys who are members of the Illinois Bar Association.
Is the DePaul University Paralegal Studies Program "approved" by the American Bar Association?
No. At this time, DePaul does not plan to seek American Bar Association approval for our paralegal program. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of paralegal programs offered by colleges, universities, law schools and proprietary schools do not have ABA approval. Only around 260 of the estimated 1,000 paralegal training programs in the United States are ABA approved.
Can I sit for national Paralegal examinations?
The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) each offer a voluntary examination (for a fee). No state currently requires paralegals to take an exam, and most paralegals choose not to take either exam. Students that have obtained a bachelor's degree in any field and graduate from the DePaul Paralegal Studies Certificate Program are eligible to sit for either exam. Please contact NALA or NFPA for the most current requirements to sit for those examinations.
What kind of student support is offered by the DePaul University Paralegal Studies Certificate Program?
Student learning is supported by a multitude of tools, making the educational process much more effective than that of any other school. These tools include:
ParaStudent Web Site
This website offers hundreds of interactive exercises, diagrams, charts, graphics, textbook commentary, and mock exams that correspond to the program.
This education portal allows students to get course updates from instructors, retrieve PowerPoint presentations, obtain grades and gain instant access to the course discussion boards.
Does this program qualify for financial assistance through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)?
In order to find out if you qualify for financial assistance, you must first contact Workforce Development. As a certified program under the ILLINOIS workNet initiative, this program has been approved for workforce training grants for those who are eligible. Funding may be available for those receiving unemployment benefits. Please contact Workforce Development for more information.
Videos and materials
Because of COVID-19, many providers are cancelling or postponing in-person programs or providing online participation options.
We are happy to help you find a suitable online alternative.