Paralegal Studies Certificate Program

  1. Overview
  2. Program Details
  3. Frequently Asked Questions
  4. Program Statistics

The Berkeley College Paralegal Studies Certificate Program, which can be completed in a six month period, is a 308-contact hour, non-credit program that prepares students with the technical skills, general knowledge, and communication abilities necessary to be successful entry-level paralegals. Paralegals, also known as legal assistants, are individuals qualified to perform law-related work, which requires knowledge of legal concepts and procedures and is usually, but not exclusively, performed by lawyers. Under the supervision of a lawyer, a paralegal may analyze legal issues, investigate and evaluate facts, interview clients, assist in case management, and perform other duties to assist the lawyer in the delivery of legal services to clients. In addition, paralegals may prepare pleadings, contracts, forms, legal memoranda, and other documents. Paralegals cannot give out legal advice or provide legal services directly to the public. Areas of practice include litigation, business/corporate, real estate, trusts and estates, family law, criminal law, tax, bankruptcy, immigration, environmental law, collection, employee benefits, computer law, intellectual property, securities, entertainment law, and workers’ compensation.

The Berkeley College Paralegal Studies Certificate Program is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA), and upon completion of the Paralegal Studies Certificate Program students will be better prepared to:

  • Secure employment as paralegals/legal assistants in the private and/or public sector.
  • Demonstrate understanding of their roles, including delivery of services, emphasizing the ethical rules and principles of professional responsibility that govern the legal profession in general and the work of paralegal/legal assistants in particular.
  • Demonstrate competence and understanding of all primary areas of substantive law and be able to perform procedural tasks in these areas of practice and understand how the two relate.
  • Demonstrate competence in legal research and writing, problem analysis and critical and analytical thinking as well as application.
  • Communicate effectively by being proficient in computer skills and technology utilized in the legal community, including computer assisted legal research necessary for delivery of effective legal services.
  • Take on leadership roles as communication liaisons and be able to prepare client correspondence, research memoranda, draft a variety of legal documents and pleadings, brief cases, and complete client intake questionnaires.

 


Curriculum
Certificate of Completion
Admissions
Orientation
Faculty
Locations
Program Schedule
Cost
Tuition Payment Plan
Grants
Career Services
Berkeley College Library Resources
Transfer Credit Policy
Withdrawal/Refund Policy

Curriculum*

  • Introduction to Paralegalism
  • Contracts and Uniform Commercial Code
  • Computerized Legal Applications
  • Torts
  • Litigation
  • Legal Research and Writing
  • LEXIS and WESTLAW
  • Advanced Legal Research and Writing
  • Legal Elective (Only one of the following legal electives will be offered per session):
    • Business Organizations and Corporations
    • Employment Law
    • Bankruptcy Law
    • Real Estate Law
    • Family Law
    • Criminal Law and Procedure
    • Wills, Trusts, and Estates
    • Intellectual Property

Certificate of Completion

*To receive the Paralegal Studies Certificate, students must 1) satisfactorily complete nine paralegal courses (eight required and one elective), and 2) earn a grade of C or better in each course.

Admissions

To be considered for admission into Berkeley College’s Paralegal Studies Certificate Program, students must have earned a Baccalaureate degree or an Associate of Arts or Science degree, or have accrued a minimum of sixty (60) semester credits or the equivalent (i.e. ninety quarter credits) from an accredited post secondary educational institution. For those students without a degree, at least eighteen (18) of the sixty (60) semester credits or the equivalent must consist of general education courses.

To be considered for admission, students must submit the following:

Application documents must be submitted to:

Berkeley College
Central Admissions Office
PO Box 440
Little Falls, NJ 07424

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Orientation

All students admitted into the Paralegal Studies Certificate Program are required to attend a new student orientation session. Information regarding program requirements, technology services, library services, and other student services is provided at the orientation. The orientation session is 2 hours long and is usually scheduled the day before the session begins.

Faculty

The faculty consists of practicing attorneys and legal professionals such as judges, prosecutors in district attorney offices, and criminal defense attorneys who have significant experience in their field of practice, such as corporate law, bankruptcy law, intellectual property law, criminal law, and tort law. They have experience working in various settings, such as law firms, corporations, government agencies, public courts, and non-profit organizations, and bring their wealth of knowledge and expertise into the classroom.

Locations

The Paralegal Studies Certificate is offered at Berkeley's New York City location.

NYC Midtown Manhattan
3 East 43rd Street
New York, NY 10017

Program Schedule

The Paralegal Studies Certificate Program is completed in one session which is delivered within six months. Classes are scheduled in the evening and on weekends to be convenient for working students.

Click here for the complete Fall 2011/Winter 2012 Paralegal Studies Certificate course schedule.

Cost

The cost for the Paralegal Studies Certificate Program which includes tuition as well as administrative and technology fees is $ 6,510. The application fee and textbooks are not included in the cost. Students are responsible for purchasing textbooks.

Tuition Payment Plan

Tuition is payable in advance; however, Berkeley College does offer a payment plan option for students who are unable to pay the entire amount due by registration. Payment Plans consist of two payments — 50% due at registration, and 50% due in 30 days. No interest is charged, but there is a $20 fee per payment plan. Late payments will also incur a late payment fee.

To establish a payment plan, students must sign a Payment Plan Contract. Payment Plan Contracts are available in the Student Accounts Offices and via the Self-Service module of Blackboard.

Grants

A limited number of grants are available for students who meet certain requirements. Students must meet with an Admission representative to discuss grant eligibility.

Career Services

The Career Services Department at Berkeley College will provide students who complete the Paralegal Studies Certificate Program with tools and information needed to conduct a thorough independent job search. Services provided include resume writing techniques, interviewing skills, job search strategies, and networking opportunities.

Berkeley College Library Resources

In compliance with the American Bar Association (ABA), Berkeley College maintains a complete collection of the state codes, reporters and digests; resources for checking validity and currency of primary source materials; legal encyclopedias, law dictionaries, texts, practice manuals, and form books; local and state Bar Association journals; career planning materials; and the trade magazines of the paralegal profession. Additional resources in electronic format are organized and made available through the library web site. Students of the paralegal program are issued personal authorization numbers for unlimited access to Westlaw.com Paralegal Primary Law and Analytical Library databases, and Lexis.com databases.

Transfer Credit Policy

Transfer credits from another institution are not accepted into the Paralegal Studies Certificate Program.

Withdrawal/Refund Policy

Students may withdraw from the program and are entitled to tuition refunds (excluding the $50 application fee) according to the schedule below. Refunds are based on payment of 100% of the tuition. Students participating in the tuition payment plan are not eligible for a refund.

First and second weeks (from 1st class date): 90%
Third week: 50%
Fourth through sixth weeks: 25%
After the sixth week: 0%

NOTE: Students who withdraw without completing all of the course requirements will be required to reapply and complete the entire program if they decide to return for a subsequent session.

 



1. Is Berkeley College's Paralegal Studies Certificate Program ABA approved? 

Yes, the program is approved by the American Bar Association.

2. What are paralegals or legal assistants? 

Paralegals, also known as legal assistants, are individuals qualified to perform law-related work that requires knowledge of legal concepts and procedures and is usually, but not exclusively, performed by lawyers. Under the supervision of a lawyer, a paralegal may analyze legal issues, investigate and evaluate facts, interview clients, assist in case management, and perform other duties to assist the lawyer in the delivery of legal services to clients. In addition, paralegals may prepare pleadings, contracts, forms, legal memoranda, and other documents. Areas of practice include litigation, business/corporate, real estate, trusts and estates, family law, criminal law, tax, bankruptcy, immigration, environmental law, collection, employee benefits, computer law, intellectual property, securities, entertainment law, and workers’ compensation.

3. What types of work do paralegals perform? 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegals assist lawyers by researching legal precedent, investigating facts, or preparing legal documents. They also conduct research to support a legal proceeding, to formulate a defense, or to initiate legal action.

While lawyers assume ultimate responsibility for legal work, they often delegate many of their tasks to paralegals. In fact, paralegals are continuing to assume a growing range of tasks in legal offices and perform many of the same tasks as lawyers. Nevertheless, they are explicitly prohibited from carrying out duties considered to be the practice of law, such as setting legal fees, giving legal advice, and presenting cases in court.

One of a paralegal’s most important tasks is helping lawyers prepare for closings, hearings, trials, and corporate meetings. Paralegals might investigate the facts of cases and ensure that all relevant information is considered. They also identify appropriate laws, judicial decisions, legal articles, and other materials that are relevant to assigned cases. After they analyze and organize the information, paralegals may prepare written reports that attorneys use in determining how cases should be handled. If attorneys decide to file lawsuits on behalf of clients, paralegals may help prepare the legal arguments, draft pleadings and motions to be filed with the court, obtain affidavits, and assist attorneys during trials. Paralegals also organize and track files of all important case documents and make them available and easily accessible to attorneys.

In addition to this preparatory work, paralegals perform a number of other functions. For example, they help draft contracts, mortgages, and separation agreements. They also may assist in preparing tax returns, establishing trust funds, and planning estates. Some paralegals coordinate the activities of other law office employees and maintain financial office records.

Computer software packages and the Internet are used to search legal literature stored in computer databases and on CD-ROM. In litigation involving many supporting documents, paralegals usually use computer databases to retrieve, organize, and index various materials. Imaging software allows paralegals to scan documents directly into a database, while billing programs help them to track hours billed to clients. Computer software packages are also used to perform tax computations and explore the consequences of various tax strategies for clients.

Paralegals are found in all types of organizations, but most are employed by law firms, corporate legal departments, and various government offices. In these organizations, they can work in many different areas of the law, including litigation, personal injury, corporate law, criminal law, employee benefits, intellectual property, labor law, bankruptcy, immigration, family law, and real estate. As the law becomes more complex, paralegals become more specialized. Within specialties, functions are often broken down further. For example, paralegals specializing in labor law may concentrate exclusively on employee benefits. In small and medium-sized law firms, duties are often more general.

4. Is there a demand for paralegals? 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow 22 percent between 2006 and 2016, much 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. Consequently, paralegals are performing a wider variety of duties, making them more useful to businesses.

Demand for paralegals also is expected to grow as an expanding population 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 should also 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 cut 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.

5. Can I be considered for admission if I don't have at least 60 credits or a Bachelor's degree?

To be considered for admission into Berkeley College’s Paralegal Studies Certificate Program, students must have earned a Baccalaureate degree or an Associate of Arts or Science degree or have accrued a minimum of sixty (60) semester credits or the equivalent (i.e. ninety quarter credits) from an accredited post secondary educational institution. For those students without a degree, at least eighteen (18) of the sixty (60) semester credits or the equivalent must consist of general education courses. Students who have an Associate’s degree of Applied Science or equivalent occupational or vocational degree cannot be admitted into the certificate program. They may apply for admission to the Associate’s degree program as a transfer student.

6. How long does it take to complete the program?
The program can be completed in approximately 6 months.

7. Where are courses held?
Courses are held at Berkeley's NYC Midtown Manhattan location.

 


The following are Paralegal Studies Certificate program statistics for New York in 2010-2011.

Click on the links for more information on jobs related to this program:

PARALEGAL: 23-2010 Paralegals and Legal Assistants, 23-2011 Paralegals and Legal Assistants, 23-2090 Miscellaneous Legal Support Workers, 23-2099 Legal Support Workers, All Other

 

Q: How much will this program cost me to complete?
A:

Tuition and fees:

$6,510


Books and supplies:

$2,161


On-campus room & board:

Not required


Q: What's included?
A:
Program costs include tuition plus administrative and technology fees. Living expenses, such as room, board, and transportation, can vary considerably and are not included in the figures above. Berkeley College does not require students to live on campus.

Q: What are my financing options to pay for the program?
A:
In addition to any grant and scholarship aid for which they are eligible, students may borrow funds through federal, private, and institutional loans to finance their education.

In accordance with applicable regulations, the College does not disclose median debt information for programs completed by fewer than 10 students during the award year.

Q: How long will it take me to complete this program?
A:
This program is designed to be completed in one 6-month session.

In accordance with applicable regulations, the College does not disclose on-time completion rates for programs completed by fewer than 10 students during the award year.