According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics Handbook, employment of paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow 18 percent between 2010 and 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. Employers are trying to reduce costs and increase the availability and efficiency of legal services by hiring paralegals to perform tasks once done by lawyers. Paralegals are performing a wider variety of duties, making them more useful to businesses. NALA has a useful guide to typical paralegal duties by specialty
that you can view online or download.
Demand for paralegals also is expected to grow as an expanding population increasingly requires legal services, especially in areas such as intellectual property, health care, international law, elder issues, criminal law, and environmental law. The growth of prepaid legal plans also should contribute to the demand for legal services.
Private law firms will continue to be the largest employers of paralegals, but a growing array of other organizations, such as corporate legal departments, insurance companies, real estate and title insurance firms, and banks also hire paralegals. Corporations in particular are expected to increase their in-house legal departments to out costs. In part because of the range of tasks they can perform, paralegals are also increasingly employed in small and medium-size establishments of all types. Take a look at the NALA 2010 National Utilization and Compensation Survey Report
to review the current data.
The Oakland University Paralegal Program was established in 1974 and ABA approved since 1976. Our well-respected program has employed hundreds of graduates who live and work in our community. Here is a sample of what our students are saying:
Please be advised paralegals may not offer legal services or advice directly to the public, except as permitted by law.
"The paralegal program at Oakland University helped mold my
professional career and has provided me with the education necessary to be
successful as a paralegal.
After completing the required paralegal courses, OU placed
me into an exciting internship. I was
well received by the sponsor, and was offered a contract position. During my internship, Linda Wallace (head of
the paralegal program) continued to forward job postings to me. I successfully gained two part time
positions. These part time positions gave
me the experience I needed to land a full time job.
Since graduating from the paralegal program in 2007, I have
remained in contact with Linda Wallace and the paralegal program. She has remained a source of professional
guidance and support and continues to send me job postings.
I truly believe the investment I made through Oakland
University’s paralegal program has already paid off. It is my sincere belief and expectation that
I will continue to benefit from my education at Oakland University."
— Cheryl Werner, OU Paralegal Program Graduate
The primary goal of the Paralegal Program at Oakland University is to introduce students to the study of law with emphasis on real-world applications and legal procedures. Classes are taught by attorneys, judges and qualified professionals who understand the role of the paralegal in modern legal practice.
Course of Study
Oakland's 14-course Paralegal Program consists of: 9 core courses (required of all students); three legal specialty courses (selected according to interest); computer competency and the final course which includes a field studies element of a supervised internship. When classes are available students may choose to specialize in litigation, business or estate administration.
Evening and Saturday courses are offered in three 12-week terms beginning in September, January and April. Full-time students can complete the program in approximately one year with a fall start date. Part-time students may take up to five years to complete the program.
Oakland University's Paralegal Program is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) through its Standing Committee on Legal Assistants. This committee is charged with fostering excellence in paralegal educational programs by requiring adherence to a defined set of guidelines. ABA guidelines focus on admission standards, student services, educational programming, faculty, library and administrative procedures. One of the first established in Michigan, Oakland University's Paralegal Program has maintained the ABA endorsement since its initial recognition in 1976.
A flexible 80-hour internship in a legal setting concludes the Paralegal Program. Internships are designed to give students exposure to the real world of legal practice. Students already employed in a legal setting can use the internship to explore new areas of law or legal procedure. Ongoing internship opportunities are available with the following companies:
- General Motors at the Renaissance Center
- Oakland County Circuit Courthouse
- Entertainment Corporation in Troy
COMPUTER BASIC OFFICE SKILLS COURSES - The ABA requires that our students are competent in their knowledge and ability of basic computer skills. Basic Office Skills will cover computer office skills using Microsoft Word and Excel software.
- The course will provide Word modules covering topics such as navigation, multi-level lists, margins and columns, table formatting, graphics, charts and importing techniques at the beginning or advanced level. The Excel workshops will include topics such as using Excel in the workplace, creating formulas, approaching complex functions, and creating charts at the beginning or advanced level.
- Students may elect to test-out of the Computer Competence course by taking a test which is given once a year in July, the Saturday before Basic Office Skills is offered. This class is offered 2 semesters throughout the year.
Many working professionals choose to take paralegal courses for individual professional development, and to update and increase their own knowledge base, employment skills, and overall marketability. Legal, finance, or business professionals may benefit from taking paralegal courses for professional development without applying to the paralegal certificate course plan. Paralegals who are already certified through OU or elsewhere may also take courses without completing entire certificate program requirements. Please meet with an advisor to discuss your options.
The basic undergraduate grading system at Oakland University is a 32-point system of numerical grades, with passing grades ranging from 1.0 through 4.0, by tenths, and a no credit grade of 0.0. Non-numerical grades are W, I, P, S, U, R and Z. All courses are graded numerically unless otherwise noted.
|3.6 to 4.0 = A
3.0 to 3.5 = B
2.0 to 2.9 = C
1.0 to 1.9 = D
0.0 = No credit/CEU
Z = Audit
|I = Incomplete
W = Withdrew
P = Progress
S = Satisfactory
U = Unsatisfactory
Graduate's Testimonial"... I would like to take the opportunity to thank the university, and your department, for this area of study. It is a wonderful program in which I learned and continue to learn. The big surprise was the degree of difficulty. I assumed it was going to be easy with a minimum amount of work. I could not have been more wrong, of which I am grateful. In addition to completing the courses, my reasoning and writing skills have certainly improved, which may be the greatest assets I can take to a prospective employer. I will continue to take courses after receiving my certificate as I am assured that the program is of the highest quality. Thank you."
Attendance is a factor in awarding CEUs. Students are allowed a maximum of two absences from 20 to 30 hour courses. Fewer absences are allowed in shorter courses. Extenuating circumstances may be discussed with individual instructors.
At the conclusion of each course instructors will ask students to complete a course evaluation. To insure confidentiality, evaluations will be collected by a student in the class and sealed. The student or the instructor then mails or delivers the envelope to PACE. Evaluations are available on our website for those that would like complete anonymity.
Completing the Program
The paralegal certificate is awarded to students who have been admitted to the program, earned 34 Continuing Education Units (CEU) including 9 core courses and three legal specialty courses with a grade of 2.0 or better in each course, and satisfied the internship and computer competency requirements. Students who concentrate their studies in one area of law may, in addition, earn a Specialty Certificate. While students may finish program requirements any time during the year, there are only three official graduation dates -- May 31, August 31 and January 31.
Students have a five-year time limit to complete the requirements for the Program Certificate, beginning with the first course taken in the program. The program may be completed in one year taking classes full time. (Students wishing to complete the program in one year are encouraged to discuss their plans with the program director.)
The Paralegal/Legal Assistants Section offers scholarships to those enrolled in a school of advanced education pursuing a legal assistant/paralegal degree. Scholarships range from $250–$1,000 and are available to those who are enrolling or are enrolled in a Legal Assistant degree/certificate program at a post secondary college or university located in the State of Michigan. http://www.michbar.org/paralegal/news.cfm
The sequence in which courses are taken is determined by the prerequisite requirements for each course as specified in the course descriptions. Students are encouraged to contact the program director regarding scheduling concerns. This is especially important for those students who are planning to complete the program in one year.
The following nine courses are required for all students in the Paralegal Program. Below each course's brief summary, you may find a link to a SAMPLE syllabus for that course. Actual course syllabi and instructors may be subject to change.
- CEPL 25000 Introduction to the Law and Legal System
Overview of governmental organization (including Michigan and federal court systems) and sources of law (including statutory law, common law and administrative law). Includes an introduction to various specific substantive law and procedural law topics and some basic legal vocabulary.
Sample Syllabus #CEPL25000
- CEPL 25060 Substantive Law-Contracts
Provides a comprehensive view of those major areas of contract law likely to be encountered by the paralegal; the formation, modification, assignment, interpretation, enforcement and breach of contracts; and U.C.C./-Sales. The remedies for breach of contract and discharge of contract are discussed. Students read and brief cases.
Sample Syllabus #CEPL25060
- CEPL 25070 Substantive Law-Torts
A study of basic law relating to the civil wrong as applied to personal and property damage. Topics studied include intentional torts, negligence and defenses to negligence, strict liability, products liability, nuisance, liability of owners and occupiers of land, defamation, invasion of privacy, fraud, interference with contractual relations and torts in the family. Includes discussion of property law.
Sample Syllabus #CEPL25070
- CEPL 25160 Ethics and Law Practice Management
Law Practice Management is designed to give students a comprehensive view of law office administration; focusing on the structure of firms/corporate legal departments, use of technology in administering a law office and the various administrative and support roles performed by lawyers and non-lawyers in a law office setting.
Sample Syllabus for CEPL25160
- CEPL 25100 Legal Research and Writing I
Provides knowledge of primary and secondary legal resources: statutes, annotated law reports, statutory indexes, court reports, court rules, digests, treatises, legal encyclopedias, the Index to legal Periodical, Words and Phrases, Shepard’s Citations, restatements and related law finders. Students prepare a legal memorandum, emphasizing analysis of a fact situation, organization and use of plain English. Extensive use of the law library is involved. Assignment deadline is post-term. Prerequisites: 2506 Substantive Law – Contracts and 2507 Substantive Law – Torts.
Sample Syllabus #CEPL25100
CEPL 25110 Legal Research & Writing II
A sequel to Research and Writing I dealing with specialized legal research including federal law. Students complete a summary judgment based on research. Extensive use of the law library is required. Prerequisite: 2510 Legal Research and Writing I.
Sample Syllabus CEPL25110
- CEPL 25750 Computer Aided Legal Research (CALR)
Paralegals are increasingly called upon to do research that goes beyond traditional law library resources and into more varied areas of law than ever before. Learn how to use electronic resources for solving advanced research problems in such areas as business; bankruptcy; patent, trademark, and copyright law; medical research; employment/labor law; wills and estates; government publication/legislative history; environmental law; and criminal law. This a hands-on course with enrollment limited to 15 students. Prerequisites: 2510 Legal Research and Writing I and basic computer skills.
Important Course Information for CALR
- CEPL 25400 Litigation I: Case Preparation Before Trial
Detailed study of pretrial case preparation: alternate dispute resolution; review of court structure; causes of action; gathering and organization of materials; legal investigation; client interviewing; complaint, answer and affirmative defenses; and introduction to motions.
- CEPL 25410 Litigation II: Case Preparation Before Trial
A continuation of Litigation I emphasizing motions, discovery and investigation, interrogatories, depositions, mediation, expert witnesses and preparation for trial. Prerequisite: 2540 Litigation I
In addition to taking core courses, students may select three (3) legal specialty courses according to personal interest, course scheduling or employment goals. It is recommended that student’s complete 2 semesters of study prior to selecting specialty courses. (Contact the program director regarding exceptions to the prerequisites.)
- CEPL 25210 Criminal Law
Every person arrested in the United States is entitled to certain constitutional protections and due process under the law. These protections and the criminal justice process in Michigan are examined: investigation; arrest, detention, and booking; obtaining a warrant, preliminary examination, and bind over; arraignment and pretrial motions; trial procedures, plea negotiations, and sentencing; post-trial motions and procedures; appeal; extradition; and double jeopardy.
- CEPL 25300 Business Organizations
A study of various forms of business organizations, including the sole proprietorship, several types of partnerships, the limited liability company and the different types of corporations. The course will focus on documents required to start, govern and terminate the existence of each form of business. Students will prepare a representative sample of these documents.
- CEPL 25310 Contract Negotiations
Provides an understanding of and experience with drafting, negotiating, and managing various types of contracts encountered in a business environment. Students will prepare and negotiate non-disclosure agreements, license agreements and alliance agreements. Students will also gain an understanding of how to track responsibilities and obligations under contracts.
- CEPL 25320 Immigration Law
To provide an understanding of the basic structure of immigration law, practice, and procedure. Students will learn to analyze fact patterns, identify potential immigration benefits available under current law, and prepare and file the appropriate petitions and applications.
- CEPL 25350 Employment Law
Course covers areas of the law that deal with the employment relationship (hiring; wages, hours, and benefits; working conditions; termination) and includes discrimination and other matters addressed by legislation.
- CEPL 25470 Litigation III: Anatomy of a Lawsuit
Working with an actual case, students prepare the documents for each step of a civil suit. Emphasis will be on real-world considerations: managing clients and witnesses, investigating creatively, locating expert witnesses and identifying resources for trial exhibit preparation. Post judgment and appellate procedures and documents are covered. Prerequisite: 2541 Litigation II.
- CEPL 25500 Probate I
An examination of substantive, procedural and practical aspects of probate practice under EPIC (Michigan's Estate and Protected Individuals Code). The course focuses on petitions to commence Informal, Formal and Supervised probate proceedings, including preparation of inventory and accountings, the claims process, sale and distribution of assets and closing of the estate.
- CEPL 25510 Probate II
An examination of substantive, procedural and practical aspects of probate practice under EPIC (Michigan's Estate and Protected Individuals Code.) The course focuses on pleadings to commence and administer Guardianship and Conservatorship proceedings for minors, adults and developmentally disabled individuals as well as pre and post death Trust Administration. Prerequisite: NONE
- CEPL 25680 Estate Planning and Documents
Overview of principles relating to the control and disposition of property inter vivos and after death. Includes discussion of wills, intestate succession, trusts, future interests, disability planning and living wills. Fundamental income, gift, estate and inheritance tax and probate considerations are introduced as part of the estate planning process. Students draft several representative documents.
- CEPL 25780 Auto Accident Law and Cases
Provides a basic understanding of no-fault concepts, auto insurance, and terminology. Students learn how to prepare an auto accident case: identification of who can be sued; what benefits and damages are collectible; first and third party cases; case work-up; medical and settlement statements; and duties at trial.
- CEPL 25790 Family Law
Review of substantive law related to dissolution of marriage, separation , annulment, guardianship and adoption, including: preparation of papers for preliminary and emergency relief; jurisdiction and service of process; preparation of cases for trial; supervision of case progress; drafting of property settlements and tracing of assets; tax consequences of support; and division of property.
- CEPL 25760 Patent, Copyright & Trademark Law
Covers the basics of patent, copyright, and trademark law. Qualifies enrollees to prepare and file state and federal trademark applications and applications to register copyrights.
- CEPL 25990 Internship
A one hour orientation to the 80 hour internship. Effective resume writing and job hunting skills are also discussed. This course is completed after all core courses and electives have also been completed.
A required course. The program director will arrange for or assist the legal experience field work after all program coursework has been completed. The Paralegal Internship is the last course requirement of the program. This course meets formally only once, although students will have advising, and it carries 9 CEUs. It is completed when the course internship requirements have been met.
- Computer-based Office Skills Workshop
The Basic Office Skills course can help you learn the skills needed in today's basic professional settings, and will validate your knowledge for prospective employers. This course uses a lecture format and a hands-on and in-class project approach to introduce Word, Excel and Access computer skills to all interested participants, no matter your skill level, or your school or community affiliation.
There will be a test out option for the Basic Office Skills (CEOS 10000) course If you pass the test, you will not be required to take CEOS 10000. The test focuses only on Word and Excel. The test will be given once a year in July, the Saturday before classes begin. Office skills is offered 2x a year.
Transferring Courses from Other Institutions
Students beginning Oakland University's Paralegal Program may transfer up to three courses from another legal assistant program. Courses accepted in transfer must be evaluated on the basis of their equivalency to program requirements. New electives must be chosen in lieu of those transferred in to Oakland’s Paralegal program. Requests to transfer courses must be made in writing and accompanied by:
Transcripts listing courses upon which request is based.
A copy of the catalogue description of the course or the course syllabus.(Once students have begun a course of study in Oakland University's Paralegal Program they may not take legal courses at another institution to satisfy program requirements.)
Courses accepted in transfer toward the Program Certificate may not be more than six years old at the time of completion of the program.
Legal Specialty Certificates
In addition to the Program Certificate, students may elect to earn a Legal Specialty Certificate. Listed below are the specialty certificates available and the courses that may be applied to them. Students who complete a Legal Specialty Certificate should call the program coordinator to request a file review.
- 25470 Litigation III- Anatomy of a Lawsuit (Required)
- Select two from the following:
- 25780 Auto Accident Law & Cases
- 25790 Family Law
- 25350 Employment Law
- 25210 Criminal Law and Procedure
Business Specialty (Select three from the following)
- 25200 Real Property Transactions
- 25300 Business Organizations
- 25760 Patent, Trademark and Copyright Law
- 25350 Employment Law
- 25310 Contract Negotiations
Probate Administration Specialty (Select the following)
- 25500 Probate I
- 25510 Probate II
- 25680 Estate Planning and Documents
To earn the paralegal certificate, students must be admitted to the program. To be admitted, students must:
- Complete and submit an application in ONE of the two format options available (PDF or Word Document). Instructions for each version of the Paralegal Certificate Application are outlined below.
- PDF Version:
- Download the Paralegal Certificate Application PDF application
- Fill in and save the form with your information. If the PDF displays an alert message that you will not be able to save data typed into the form, please use the Word Document application instead.
- Click the Submit by Email button to send the application through your default email such as Microsoft Outlook, OR send the application file as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Word Version:
- Have certified transcripts sent from an accredited higher education institution, college or university showing satisfactory completion of a minimum of 45 semester hours or 60 quarter hours. Eighteen of those hours must represent a broad general education. * A limited number of individuals without college credit, but with substantial work experience in a legal setting, can be admitted. **
- Students without 45 college credits who are looking to attend should submit a letter requesting admission and describing their work experience. This letter should be accompanied by an employer's letter of recommendation verifying the work experience.
- Submit a one-page, double spaced, computer created autobiographical writing sample. This should be representative of the applicant's best writing skills. A resume will not meet this requirement.
- Students must complete the Personal Writing Inventory (PWI). (Applicants who have earned a baccalaureate degree with an overall "B" average (3.0) are exempt.) Assessment will be given via email. Contact the program coordinator for specific details.
* Eighteen of these semester hours should be true general education courses selected from at least three disciplines, i.e. social and behavioral science, English composition and literature, foreign language, mathematics, humanities, natural science and the fine arts. Courses specifically designed to develop professional, vocational, and technical skills are not considered general education. Examples of courses not considered general education include, but are not limited to, physical education, performing arts, accounting, computers, technical writing, business mathematics, keyboarding, and business law.
**Applicants Without Requisite College Credits
A limited number of program applicants who have not completed the requisite college education may be considered for admission to the program if their work experience in a legal setting has provided appropriate background. Applicants should describe this experience in a letter to the program director and, in addition, submit a letter from their employer(s) attesting to this experience and recommending the applicant for admission to the program. Legal secretaries and individuals with working experience in law offices, corporate law departments, and other law related positions would be considered primarily under this option.
Under the American Bar Association terms for approval of legal assistant programs, admission of those students without the requisite college credits is limited to 10% of the total admitted. This total is not established until after the PWI when all materials submitted by candidates for admission have been reviewed.
Applicants who are not accepted for a particular term may apply in a later term by writing to the program director requesting reconsideration.
Students who are not admitted to the program may register and take up to two semesters of courses not totaling more than a maximum of five courses. All application requirements are due before the end of a student’s second semester.
Applicants to the OU Paralegal Program
Students wishing to apply to the OU Paralegal Program may register on a trial basis for one semester (but no more than 3 courses in that time) before being admitted to the program. By the end of the student's second semester, all admission application requirements must be submitted in order to remain in the certificate program.
Individual courses are open on a space-available basis to persons not admitted to the program as long as prerequisites are observed. Some legal or business professionals may be interested in taking paralegal program courses for professional development or to invigorate their professional legal skills. Courses identified as having prerequisites presume students have the advanced knowledge necessary to understand the material covered in that course. Admission requirements must be met in order to register for more than 5 additional courses. Once admission requirements are met, such courses will count toward the Program Certificate.
An audit option is available for those students who are already working in a legal setting. It offers the opportunity to broaden knowledge or expand into another area of law without the pressure of assignments and examinations. Regular attendance is the only requirement, and there is no cost difference. Audited courses do not apply to the requirements for the Program Certificate, and no grades or CEUs will be given for students who audit courses.
Winter 2014 Schedule -
Classes begin the week of January 13, 2014. Classes meet for 12 weeks at Seaholm High School unless otherwise noted.
Registration for the winter semester begins December 1, 2013.
Legal Research & Writing II
one time - Internship
Intro to Law
Legal Research & Writing I
Benefits of the Internship
PACE is grateful to the legal community for its support in sponsoring the interns from the Paralegal Program. It is our belief that the internship offers an opportunity to learn skills and acquire knowledge that would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to provide in the classroom. We know that students value this opportunity for practical experience.
The sponsoring attorney benefits from the internship by realizing helpful work at no cost to the firm. In addition, the internship provides an excellent opportunity -- without commitment -- to evaluate how a paralegal might function in a particular office setting. Although it is understood an internship is not expected to lead to employment, attorneys have found excellent employees as a result of the internship experience. In order to ensure these benefits and maintain a quality internship program, we do have certain guidelines for those providing an internship.
How to Obtain a Student Intern
Attorneys are invited to request an intern at any time by calling the PACE at (248) 370-4386. (Internships are scheduled on a continuous basis throughout the year.)
For those who have never sponsored an intern, we would be pleased to have an opportunity to discuss the program, answer questions, and determine needs. In placing interns, every attempt is made to match the needs of the law firm with the interests, abilities, and needs of the student. When a suitable candidate for an internship is available, we will email a copy of the student's resume to the prospective sponsoring attorney. After receiving the attorney's approval, we will notify the student to make arrangements for an interview with the sponsor.
Typical Skills of a Paralegal
- ·Drafting and answering complaints, interrogatories, and requests for production of documents.
- ·Summarizing and abstracting transcripts, depositions and documentary evidence.
- ·Investigation and fact gathering.
- ·Data organization, control, and recovery.
- ·Drafting of motions, requests for admission, mediation summaries, and judgments.
- ·Preparing for and assisting at trial.
- ·Efficient use of the law library, including an understanding of the finding tools and sources for legal research.
- ·Locating and interpreting applicable statutory and decision law.
- ·Using correct form of citation and shepardizing.
- ·Briefing, analogizing, and distinguishing cases.
- ·Organizing research into a memorandum.
- ·Locating samples and adapting style of similar written documents from office files or forms of pleading and practice.
Job Referral Service
The Paralegal Program maintains an ongoing, customized job referral service for graduates and students.
PACE cannot make any guarantee of job placement to graduates. However, firms and agencies seeking qualified legal assistants are contacting the College. To respond to these requests, we maintain files of graduates and students who are seeking employment. Those who would like their resume sent to prospective employers, please email your resume to email@example.com. Students must have completed all the core courses to be eligible for the service. Program graduates will be considered first in responding to request for resumes.
Occasionally, attorneys express interest in hiring a student who is still taking program courses, usually at close to minimum wages, but in situations which provide for learning on the job. From time to time, some part-time positions are also available. These opportunities, in conjunction with program courses, can provide useful experience. Students who would like to be considered for such opportunities should prepare a resume and discuss their plans with the program director.
Hire a Graduate
Employing paralegals has become the logical outgrowth of an effort to make the delivery of law services more economical for the client and more profitable and efficient for the law firm or business.
Attorneys who feel a paralegal could make a contribution to their practice of law are invited to contact Linda Wallace, Program Coordinator, at (248) 370-4386 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We have on file the resumes of programs graduates and students who are currently seeking either full or part-time employment. Several resumes, selected with the the attorney's needs in mind, will be sent upon request.
Before contacting us it is important to prepare a brief job description:
- Type of position: full-time, part-time, temporary or contract
- Practice area(s)
- Primary duties and responsibilities
- Experience required
- Level of education (student, program graduate, bachelor's degree)
- Other non-legal specific skills needed
Paralegal/Legal Secretary - Oakland County
Very fast-paced law firm in Oakland County seeking a paralegal and/or legal secretary. No experience is required, and you don’t have to be nearing graduation to apply. We are seeking the right individual for our team, no matter what your experience level is. You MUST type 60 wpm at a minimum to be considered for this position. It is a full time, permanent position. Please email resumes, along with hourly wage requirements, to email@example.com.
For more information, contact:
Michigan Legal Center
Christopher Trainor & Associates
Phone: 800.961.8477 | Fax: 248.698.3321
9750 Highland Road, White Lake, Michigan 48386