Professional and Continuing Education

Pawley Hall, Room 440G
456 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-3177
[email protected]

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Paralegal Certificate

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Logo for the American Bar Association - Paralegal Program

Oakland University’s 100% live-online Paralegal Certificate:  The 11-month, cohort-based,  non-credit certificate program ("Paralegal Program") is approved by the American Bar Association ("ABA") through its Standing Committee on Legal Assistants. One of the first established in Michigan, Oakland University's Paralegal Program has maintained its ABA standing since its initial recognition in 1976.

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Tonia Wernette, Paralegal Program Director
[email protected]


*Pursuant to the ABA Guidelines, 9 hours of instruction must be delivered synchronously.


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. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 15% growth in employment of paralegals and legal assistants between 2016 and 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual wage for paralegals was $50,940 in May 2018. Formally trained paralegals with strong computer and database management skills should have the best job prospects.

In an effort to reduce costs and increase efficiency, businesses are hiring paralegals to perform tasks once done by lawyers. These organizations include but are not limited to: 

  • private law firms (largest organization to hire paralegals)
  • corporate legal departments
  • insurance companies
  • real estate and title insurance firms
  • banks
  • court houses

* Please be advised that paralegals may not offer legal services or advice directly to the public, except as permitted by law.


Students enrolled in the cohort-based Oakland University Paralegal Program are required to complete a 328-hour course of study over three (3) contiguous 14-week terms.

Classes are held as follows:

Days:  Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 

Times: 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm EST 

Class Format:  Live Online 

Enrolled students are required to successfully complete the following courses:

14 week courses

  • Ethics and Introduction to Law
  • Civil Litigation
  • Legal Research and Writing
  • Contracts
  • Torts
  • Ethics and Law Practice Management
  • Internship

7 week courses (Four will be offered at the Program Director’s discretion)

  • Auto Law
  • Bankruptcy Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Employment Law
  • Family Law
  • Immigration Law
  • Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights
  • Probate Law
  • Real Estate Law

Specialty Topics for Continuing Legal Education (CLE)

Some special topic courses are offered to the legal community to those interested in professional development learning opportunities.  Those that successfully complete and pass the course, you will receive a certificate of completion.

Why our program?

Our ABA approved cohort-based program is:

  • Limited to 25 students per cohort
  • Cohorts offered three times per year (Winter, Spring and Fall)
  • Evening, live-online courses (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday)
  • Taught by practicing attorneys and paralegals in their field of expertise
  • 100-hour internship completed in the third session

Learning Outcomes

Faculty and staff are committed not only to quality education but also to the promotion of paralegals as essential members of the legal community. After successfully completing this program, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the law, the legal profession, and the legal process.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of technology appropriate to their expected role in the legal community.
  • Demonstrate competency in at least one area of concentration.
  • Demonstrate competency in legal research and writing, problem analysis, and critical thinking.
  • Demonstrate competency with interpersonal skills and effective written and verbal communications for effective support roles in the legal community.
  • Apply the ethical rules of professional conduct to their legal work environment.

Skill Outcomes 

  • Case Law
  • Contract Law
  • Client Intake Process
  • Contract Analysis and Drafting Documents
  • Electronic Discovery
  • Legal Knowledge
  • Legal Process Outsourcing
  • Legal Research and Writing
  • Westlaw

Paralegal candidates that have met all program requirements receive a Paralegal Program Certificate of Achievement upon graduation.

Course Descriptions

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. 

Ethics and Introduction to the Law
This course provides an overview of governmental organizations (including Michigan and federal court systems) and sources of law (including statutory law, common law and administrative law).

Substantive Law – Contracts
This course provides a comprehensive overview of contract law. 

Substantive Law - Torts
This course covers the basic law related to a civil wrong as it applies to personal and property damage. 

Legal Research and Writing I
This course provides knowledge of primary and secondary legal resources along with teaching the skills of legal writing. 

Litigation: Case Preparation before Trial
Detailed study of pretrial case preparation: alternate dispute resolution; gathering and organization of materials; legal investigation; client interviewing; and drafting a complaint, an answer, and  affirmative defenses.

This course includes one class meeting and 100 hours law office experience.  Effective resume writing and job hunting skills are also covered.


Auto Law
This course provides a basic understanding of the law as it relates to auto insurance.

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.

Employment Law
This course covers areas of the law that deal with employment relationships.

Estate Planning Law
This course provides an overview of the principles related to the control and disposition of property inter vivos and after death. 

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.

Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights
This course 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.

Probate Law
This course examines the substantive, procedural, and practical aspects of probate law under EPIC (Michigan's Estate and Protected Individuals Code). 

Real Estate Law
This course will provide students with an overview of real property law including terminology, documents, types of estate ownership, mortgages. The course examines concurrent forms of ownership, life estates, and common interest properties. Landlord-tenant law, zoning, and the duties of principals, agents, and brokers are also highlights of this course.

Bankruptcy Law
An introduction to the basics of bankruptcy law. Provides an overview of bankruptcy law, equipping paralegal students with a working knowledge of bankruptcy procedure and terminology.

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.

Admission & Policies


Students must have completed a minimum of 45 undergraduate credit hours OR have at least 10 years of relevant paralegal experience to be admitted to the program. Students must achieve a grade of "C" (2.0) or better in each class once in the program. International students must provide a WES or ECE credential evaluation.

How to Resolve a Complaint

Students may encounter problem situations during their course of study at Oakland University that may require review by appropriate administrative or academic personnel. This is a description of the problem-resolution procedure established by the university. The procedure provides a fact-finding system for resolving problems between students and faculty or staff members when a review of the issue is not available through other established university procedures. In some cases (e.g. discrimination and harassment), the university has specific procedures which must be followed. 

Each student, faculty member, administrator and staff member has an obligation to resolve problems fairly through discussion between the aggrieved student(s) and the specific university person immediately involved with the problem.

PACE Academic Complaint

Each academic department has its own internal procedure for resolving complaints about classroom situations. A copy of the relevant grievance procedure may be obtained from the involved academic department or school. The student must first contact the department or school and follow the respective grievance procedure within that department.

Depending on the department, the chair, Director or designee may hear the facts of the case or refer it to an internal committee. If the problem is not resolved at this step, the student may contact the dean of the college or school to continue the problem resolution process. For cases involving grade disputes and classroom procedures but not involving discrimination, harassment or illegal behavior, the process stops at the dean level.

PACE Nonacademic Complaint

If the problem is not academically related, the student must first contact the department or school and follow the respective grievance procedure within that department or be referred to the responsible unit. If the problem is not resolved at this step, the student may contact the director of Professional and Continuing Education to seek final resolution. For nonacademic complaints, appeals stop at the director of Professional and Continuing Education.

 Complaint Process:

  1. Student/Participant must email detailed description of complaint along with corresponding documentation to [email protected]
  2. PACE Director will contact the complainant with a resolution or to formalize a meeting as part of the complaint exploration process.
Paralegal Resources



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