Center for Legal Studies paralegal certificate

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by dlp, May 3, 2013.

  1. dlp

    dlp New Member

    I have been looking into the Paralegal Certificate offered by the Center for Legal Studies. They partner with a bunch of reputable universities and community colleges to offer this program, and the certificate would be issued by the school through which the student enrolled in the program. The certificate is offered in 4 different formats, including in-person and online. I was thinking about doing it online through George Mason University. The reason I chose GMU is because their law school is accredited by the ABA (although the paralegal program itself isn't), and the campus is not too far from me, which would hopefully make it a little less obvious that I did it online. It seems almost too good to be true... tuition is only a little over $1000, and it only takes 14 weeks to complete. I'm wondering if there are many more certificate holders than there are jobs for them.

    My question is: Has anyone gone through the CLC's Paralegal Certificate program as a complete newcomer to the profession, and actually landed a decent job in the field?

    And a more general question: Does anyone have any personal experiences, good or bad, with the paralegal profession? I'm wondering if I would even like being a paralegal...

    Thanks in advance for any insight you could offer!
  2. AUTiger00

    AUTiger00 New Member

    It can be a rewarding and lucrative career. Some paralegals with several years of experience at large firms earn six figure salaries. That said, with the current state of the legal profession, you won't only be competing with other paralegals but also JD holders that can't find work as an attorney (and there are a lot of them).
  3. dlp

    dlp New Member

    Thanks for your reply! Hmmm, I hadn't realized that I would be competing with JD holders. Not to be down on myself, but I don't see why anyone would hire me over a JD! Maybe it's time to get back to the drawing board...
  4. joel66

    joel66 New Member

    If you do not have a legal background and you are trying to become a paralegal, I would not recommend doing the certificate, unless you complete the NALA CP/CLA exam. Just completing the certificate is not going to be enough to pass this exam, because it is a five part – 7 ½ hours – over two day exam! Even so, I do not recommend the certificate. I recently started my new job about seven months ago and it is a cross between a paralegal and junior associate. I have been doing claims for almost twenty years and most of it litigation. When I started this new job, I realized I needed to build more strength on reviewing/editing answers, request for productions, interrogatories that deal with institutional request, and writing memorandums.

    I originally signed up for the certificate with UT Arlington that cost around $3,500. They have 14 courses at $250 each. I signed up for the first course at $250 called Paralegal Fundamentals and completed that course in two days. One thing I noticed about the courses at UT Arlington for this program is the material and training is from I was not at all impressed with this course, so I switched over to UT Arlington’s other paralegal program that is in partnership with Gatlin (Ed2Go). The entire course for that one is around $1,995 and I found it to be structured better than the more expensive option. Ed2go also includes two books and extra study material (seven courses) from NALA for the CP/CLA exam.

    Even though I completed the above program, I don’t see how someone is going to take this certificate and expect to get hired by a law firm as a paralegal. Maybe as a legal secretary and doing admin tasks and that is not the same as what paralegals / legal assistants do, because they will assist on drafting legal documents, discovery, and assisting the attorney on deposition preps. If you want to get into the field, I can’t stress this enough to obtain an AA in Paralegal Studies from your local community college. Second option is to get the AA online, but it will be harder to compete with other people who obtained their degree locally because the firms usually have some type of partnership with the local schools.

    For me, I made the mistake of taking the certificate, because I did not read the fine print that my employer will only pay for the certificate if I complete the NALA CP / CLA exam. After I purchased the Certified Paralegal Review Manual I realized I have my work cut out for me, because of the amount of information that is covered. Luckily, my employer will pay for anther associates, bachelors and master’s program. So, I ended up registering with Liberty University to complete the AA in Paralegal Studies since it is free and plan to do this, while studying for the exam. I noticed from reading the syllabus, the amount of content is substantially more than the certificate.
  5. That has it's pros and cons. From what I've seen, a lot of firms would hire a good (experienced AND knowledgeable) paralegal over a JD holder. It works out for them in the long run. I just had a friend get turned down for a paralegal position. Most firms realize that a JD holder would probably be doing it until "something better" comes along. Which creates a high turnover in that position. Additionally, 9 out of 10 times the JD holder is going to want more money. The more experience you have the better. I really can't emphasize the importance of the experience. Which could be gained by volunteering/interning with firms and others.
  6. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Some firms are now stating explicitly that they will not hire JDs for paralegal positions, using the phrase "JDs need not apply". Here's a current example of a job posting for a compliance paralegal:

    The perception is that JDs want too much money, won't make a long-term commitment to a paralegal position, are generally more difficult to work with, and are more likely to sue if they are unhappy with working conditions.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2013
  7. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Many certificate programs require just as many and, sometimes, even more paralegal courses than associate's degree programs. Associate's programs just have the added general education requirements. I did some research into paralegal salaries a couple of years ago and came across this:

    Paralegal Studies -- Professional Certificates -- Duke Continuing Studies

    I'm assuming the most successful people are those who got a bachelor's degree in just about any major and then went back to get a post-baccalaureate certificate.
  8. joel66

    joel66 New Member

    You bring up a good point about the post bachelors certificate. I know I mentioned AA in Paralegal Studies. One of the reasons I mentioned the AA, because if one already has a bachelors he or she would already satisfy most if not all of the GE requirements. On the paralegal courses, I am referring more to taking paralegal courses in college setting for college credit instead of continuing education because the of the amount of content that is involved in the courses. In continuing education, I noticed there are three main players in the industry, and most of these colleges and universities are using these companies like a private label type format. For example, a lot of the community colleges and state colleges are using Gatlin (Ed2Go); lower universities are using; and higher universities like Duke University, UT Austin, USC, UNLV and others are using another company.

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