While paralegals do not practice law, they are legal team members sought after by government agencies and top private law firms.
THE PARALEGAL PROFESSION
What is a paralegal?
A paralegal is a trained professional employed by a lawyer, law office, governmental agency, or other entity, who performs substantive legal work under the direction and supervision of an attorney. Most of this work requires specific knowledge of legal concepts and would be done by an attorney if a paralegal were not available.
What are some of the tasks performed by paralegals?
Paralegals do legal research and factual analysis; conduct client and witness interviews, prepare cases for civil litigation, criminal proceedings, and agency hearings; draft briefs; assist at trials; prepare and file legal documents and other forms; handle real estate closings; label documents maintain case schedules; manage the office; and more. Paralegals are involved in nearly every aspect of legal work. Paralegals cannot and do not practice law. It is illegal for them to represent clients or give legal advice. However, they are an integral part of a legal team.
Who should become a paralegal?
Lawyers and law firms look for detail-oriented candidates with strong organizational capabilities, effective writing and speaking skills, and flexibility.
To provide comprehensive and practical training in those areas of the law that prepare a paralegal to assist attorneys. Your career training includes client interviews; legal research factual analysis; case preparation of legal documents and other forms; case schedule maintenance; and law office administration.
How do I enroll in the program?
You apply for admission by submitting these items before the program begins:
A. An official college transcript indicating a minimum of 60 college credits of which 18 credits must be in liberal art subjects spread over three different disciplines.
B. Proof of college-level writing proficiency which can be satisfied by one of the following: bachelor’s or associate of arts degree or college-level English comprehension course. Otherwise, you will be scheduled to take a writing proficiency exam before classes begin.
C. Complete the Paralegal application and submit a nonrefundable $35 application fee. Call 718-997-5709 for an application or click here to download. You can also pick up an application at Queens Hall, Room 105.
D. Send your completed application to Sharon Shulman, Esq., Director, Paralegal Program, Professional & Continuing Studies, Queens Hall 105, 65-30 Kissena Blvd., Flushing, NY 11367.
What if I am not sure I want to be a paralegal?
You may register for up to two courses before enrolling in the certificate program. The courses will count toward your certificate when you do enroll in the program. Please note: If you try to enroll for more than two courses and have not yet applied for the program, further courses will not count toward your certificate.
How do I earn a Paralegal Certificate?
To receive a Paralegal Certificate, you must:
Students with an overall A- average graduate with distinction.
- Satisfactorily complete 12 paralegal courses, five required and seven electives.
- Attend 80% of all class sessions.
- Receive a grade of C or better in each required course.
- Earn an overall grade point average of B (3.0) by graduation.
*Students who receive less than C in a required course will be placed on academic probation and may not register for additional courses until they receive a grade of C or better in that course.
How long does it take to complete the program?
The fastest option is the one-semester Accelerated Day Program which is offered every fall and spring. The Weekend Program takes eight months and is offered every fall. An added option is to combine weekends and evenings while going at your own pace. The Evening Program is approximately three semesters if the student is able to take four classes per semester (fall, spring, and summer). You can proceed more slowly and take as few as one class per semester.
Tell me more about the different program options.
The Accelerated Day Program
This is a full-time program held Monday through Friday, from 9 am to 2 pm. The program is split into three 5-week semesters, with four courses given during each semester. The program takes approximately four and a half months to complete. There is no summer program. You cannot mix day classes with any others, nor can you choose electives, since the program is preplanned. You must be admitted to the certificate program and be interviewed by the educational coordinator before registering for these courses. This program is limited to 20 students per term. If you are interested, you are advised to complete your application, consultation, and registration as early as possible. Students must attend 80% of all classes and be on time for each class.
Accelerated Weekend Program (offered on the Queens College campus)
This program is held on Saturdays and Sundays, from 9 am to 4 pm. It is offered only once a year, beginning in October and ending in June. There are three semesters: fall, winter, and spring. The program is preplanned and there are no options in electives. Students must attend 80% of all classes and be on time for each class.
Combination Program (offered on the Queens College campus)
This program allows students to register for both weekend and evening courses and proceed at their own pace. Students must attend 80% of all classes and be on time for each class.
In this program, classes meet once a week for 12 to 14 weeks, Monday through Thursday. This is the only program offered fall, spring, and summer. Here you have a variety of electives. Students must attend 80% of all classes and be on time for each class.
What is the cost?
Evening and weekend courses are priced individually. The Accelerated Day Program has a set fee. See the current PCS course offerings for all fees.
Sharon Shulman, Esq.
Program Director, Paralegal Studies