Associate in Science
The mission of the Paralegal Studies (Legal Assisting) program is to educate, train, and develop students for careers as paralegals and legal assistants. The program is intended primarily for students who desire an associate in science degree and then directly enter the workforce. The curriculum focuses on the study of legal theory and substantive areas of the law, and incorporates the practical application of law to develop the skills necessary to succeed in the profession. The program emphasizes legal research, writing, law related technology, communication, ethics, and critical thinking skills so that students enter the legal profession well prepared.
The Paralegal Studies (Legal Assisting) program at Florida State College at Jacksonville has been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) since 1997. In fact, we are the only ABA-approved program in North Florida.
The Paralegal Studies (Legal Assisting) program prepares students for careers in the legal profession. The courses provide students with both the knowledge of the substantive areas of law (such as tort law, family law, real estate law, criminal law, probate, and estate planning) and the practical skills (such as conducting legal research, preparing legal documents, investigating, and communicating) needed to succeed as a paralegal or legal assistant. Employment opportunities may include private law firms, courthouses, governmental or administrative agencies, non-profit organizations, corporations, and other legal environments.
The program may provide a solid foundation for those considering law school in the future as well.
Transfer of Legal Specialty courses from other institutions must be approved by the Program Manager and may be limited by the program’s ABA approval.
This program cannot be completed entirely online. The Paralegal Studies courses that are not available online are held at Kent Campus.
For students who already hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, there is another program option available: Paralegal Studies (4104) (A.T.C.) . The A.T.C. is a Limited Access program and applicants must meet specific criteria to be admitted.
A minimum grade of C or higher must be achieved in all professional coursework and paralegal studies coursework.
The program culminates in a professional internship during the student’s last semester in the program. With approval from the Instructional Program Manager, a student may enroll in the Internship course, which will consist of classroom activities and an internship of a minimum 180 hours at a law-related office. For those students who are unable to complete an internship due to circumstances, the program has developed an alternative course, Simulated Law Office Experience: The Paralegal Studies Capstone. The alternative course is not ideally suited for everyone and cannot fully replace the valuable experience of an internship. Students are encouraged to participate in the internship when feasible.
The American Bar Association defines a paralegal/legal assistant as “a person, qualified by education, training, or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.” For more information about the American Bar Association, visit americanbar.org.
Paralegals and legal assistants are not permitted by law to give legal advice, represent clients in court, or set legal fees. Doing so is considered the unauthorized practice of law (UPL) and can result in civil and criminal liability. The Paralegal Studies (Legal Assisting) program supports these ethical guidelines against the unauthorized practice of law by non-attorneys. The students in the program have extensive training in legal ethics.
At this time, certification of paralegals/legal assistants remains voluntary in Florida. The Certified Paralegal (CP) credential is recognized in the legal community as representing the highest standard of excellence and professionalism. Students who successfully graduate from the Paralegal Studies (Legal Assisting) program at Florida State College at Jacksonville meet the educational requirements to sit for the CP exam. The exam is administered locally by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). For more information regarding the CP exam, eligibility and fees, please visit the NALA website at nala.org.
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