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Paralegal Certificate Program

Now Available in Both In-Person and Online Formats!

This intensive, nationally acclaimed program is designed for beginning as well as advanced legal workers. Students will be trained to interview witnesses, investigate complex fact patterns, research the law, prepare legal documents, and assist in preparing cases for courtroom litigation. The instruction is practice-oriented and relates to those areas of law in which paralegals are in most demand.

There are no prerequisites to take the course, but students will be expected to complete a significant amount of homework for each session. This program will help students increase their office's efficiency, productivity, and billable hours as well as learn new marketable job skills. 

Successful graduates will be awarded a Certificate of Completion and will receive 8.4 Continuing Education Units.

This program is nationally coordinated by SPD's educational partner, the Center for Legal Studies, which has been offering paralegal programs nationally since 1980. The course is taught by attorneys. 

Course Curriculum

For questions regarding course content and registration, please call the Center for Legal Studies at 1.800.522.7737.

Session One— "Legal Terminology, Documents, Ethics, and the Litigation Process":This first session focuses on the history of American jurisprudence, the theory of law, the legal process, and the nature of litigation. Discussion will cover pre-trial, trial and post-trial procedures as well as an in depth coverage of legal ethics. At the end of the first session of class, students will know how to prepare a Complaint/Petition, Answer, Third Party Complaint/Petition, and Motion for Summary Judgment.

Session Two—"Introduction to the Evidentiary Predicate": This session covers the rules of evidence and civil procedure. Basic interviewing and investigation techniques and the development and use of demonstrative evidence will also be explained. At the end of the second session of class, students will prepare discovery matter such as Interrogatories, Request for Admissions and Request for Production of Documents.

Session Three—"Identifying Relevant Authority": During this session, students will learn how to identify relevant law, determine the differences between primary and secondary authority, and between mandatory and persuasive authority, and learn how to find and apply authority to hypothetical factual situations.

Session Four—"Introduction to Legal Research": Students will learn research techniques for use in legal memoranda, motions, and briefs. Primary and secondary source materials will be discussed, and a concise approach to legal research will be developed.

Session Five—"Legal Research Practice": Legal research skills will be applied this session with emphasis on shepardizing statutes and case law and learning to use computerized legal research terminals. Numerous research assignments will be given, discussed, and critiqued. The West Key Number System® will be learned thoroughly.

Session Seven—"Legal Writing and Appellate Procedure": This final session will concentrate on the preparation and critique of legal memoranda, including an Interoffice Memorandum of Law and Appellate Brief. Principles of appellate procedure will also be reviewed. Proper citation format will be covered along with a discussion of job hunting techniques and job leads for those seeking their first employment as paralegals.


Textbooks must be purchased separately and may be purchased from The Center for Legal Studies. The cost for textbooks is in addition to the fee for the course and can be obtained on the  course website.

Required Textbooks for the Paralegal Certificate Course (Live lecture, on-campus courses)

  • Introduction to Paralegalism, 7th Edition by William Statsky
  • Paralegal Career for Dummies, by Scott and Lisa Hatch
  • Paralegal Certificate Course Workbook, by Margaret J. Kirk
  • Uniform System of Citation, most recent edition
  • Sample Pages: Illustrations of Organization and Research Techniques in West Group Publications, most recent edition
  • Legal Document Preparation Manual for the Paralegal Certificate Course
  • Federal Civil Rules Booklet, most recent edition

Recommended Textbook

  • Oran's Dictionary of the Law, 4th edition, ISBN: 978-1-4180-8091-4.

Westlaw is one of the primary online legal research services for lawyers and legal professionals in the US. All students are required to subscribe to Westlaw. Westlaw and all textbooks are available for purchase from The Center for Legal Studies.


The course number for the Paralegal Certificate Program is NCE 425. The fee is $1605 (fee includes research and writing manuals, form pleadings and motions, and sample Memoranda of Law, but not required textbooks, or parking fees).

Live Lecture Schedule

All in-person classes meet Saturday & Sunday, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. All classes are held in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) building, in room N114. ( Directions )

WINTER 2020: January 4 & 5, 11 & 12, 25 & 26; February 1 & 2, 8 & 9, 15 & 16; 2020

SPRING 2020: April 4 & 5, 18 & 19, 25 & 26; May 2 & 3, 9 & 10, 16 & 17; 2020

SUMMER 2020: July 11 & 12, 18 & 19, 25 & 26; August 1 & 2, 8 & 9, 15 & 16; 2020

FALL 2020: Sept 26, 27, 30 / Oct 3, 4, 7 / 10, 11, 14 / 17, 18, 21 / 24, 25, 28 / 31, Nov 1, 4 / 7, 8, 11 / 14, 15, 18; 2020. (Classes will be held on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm and on Wednesdays from 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm for 8 weeks via ZOOM Instruction)

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Online Schedule

Please refer to the course webpage for  registration and book order information.

Spring 2020 I:  January 13 - February 28, 2019
Spring 2020 II:  March 9 - April 24, 2019

Summer 2020 I:  May 4 - June 19, 2019
Summer 2020 II:  June 29 - August 14, 2019

Fall 2020 I: August 24 - October 9, 2019
Fall 2020 II: October 19 - December 4, 2019

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