Certificate in Paralegal Studies
College of Professional & Global Education
Dean: Dr. Alex Hwu
SF State Downtown Campus
160 Spear Street, 5th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone: (415) 817-4244
Web Site: www.cpage.sfsu.edu/paralegal/
Program Director: Nathaniel Burch
Program Specialist: Eduardo Cerpa
Paralegal Studies is a 30 unit certificate program, providing instruction in practical legal skills and substantive law. All coursework is taught at the upper-division level by attorneys and working paralegals.
The mission of the ABA-approved Paralegal Studies certificate program is to meet the evolving needs of the legal community and prepare students from diverse backgrounds for employment in the legal profession by providing a comprehensive curriculum taught by experienced legal professionals that include procedural and substantive law; ethics; and legal research, writing, and analysis.
For over 40 years, the Paralegal Studies Certificate Program, an American Bar Association-approved paralegal studies program, has been providing educational excellence to its students.
California legislation defines who may call himself or herself a paralegal and sets forth education criteria for paralegals. One of the criteria is graduation from a program approved by the American Bar Association. Please refer to the section on California Legislation on Paralegals cited below.
California Legislation on Paralegals
The state of California has adopted legislation that defines the titles “paralegal” and “legal assistant” and sets educational criteria and continuing education requirements for paralegals. The San Francisco State University Paralegal Studies certificate program meets the educational requirements of the law by virtue of being offered by an accredited institution with an ABA-approved program, and consisting of more than 24 units of paralegal coursework.
All courses in this program are taught by attorneys and/or paralegals with practical experience in their respective fields.
Paralegals are employed in private and public interest law firms, corporations, banks, securities firms, government agencies, and regulatory bodies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks the paralegal occupation as one of the fastest growing in the country. California state legislation requires that persons working as paralegals meet specified educational and continuing education requirements.
College graduates who are interested in a career in the legal field, international students who worked in the legal field as lawyers or paralegals in their home countries, career changers, students who are thinking about law school, and early retirees from other professions who have a general interest in the law.
If students wish to explore the legal field and want to take selected individual courses in the program, they may register for those courses, with the consent of the faculty member and program lead.
Also, those who already have experience in the legal field and who wish to take selected courses without applying to the program may register for courses with the permission of the individual instructor and program director.
Admission to Program
Applicants who hold a baccalaureate degree, either from the US or another country, are automatically eligible for admission to the program. Applicants who do not have a baccalaureate degree are required to have a minimum of 60 semester or 90 quarter units of prior academic college credit with at least 30 semester (45 quarter) units of academic general education courses in four basic skills courses:
- oral communication,
- written composition,
- critical thinking, and
- mathematics or quantitative reasoning.
Additionally, applicants must have an overall GPA of 2.5 or better and all coursework must have been completed within 10 years of applying to the program.
Applicants with at least three years of legal employment and 45 semester (68 quarter) units may petition for conditional admission. Transcripts verifying these units must be accompanied by an attorney declaration attesting to their legal work experience, which must have been within five years of their application to the program.
Paralegal courses require strong writing skills. Certificate students who do not have a bachelor’s degree must pass a University-approved Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement course (GWAR). PLS 414GW is an approved GWAR course and also counts as elective units that can be applied toward the certificate.
Award of the Certificate
A certificate is awarded upon successful completion of 30 units which consists of five required courses and five elective courses. Students must complete all certificate requirements within four years.
Program Learning Outcomes
- Apply ethical principles that guide paralegal conduct in real-world situations.
- Compile and evaluate research to support attorney needs.
- Apply legal knowledge to support the litigation process.
- Demonstrate clear, concise, and organized oral and written communication skills.
- Utilize fundamental legal concepts which govern the practice of law.
Certificate in Paralegal Studies - 30 units
Required Courses (15 units)
|Introduction to Civil Procedure
|Investigation, Discovery & Trial Preparation
|Communication Skills and Legal Ethics
|Legal Research & Writing
Electives (15 units)
Select five courses from the following:
|Wills Trust Estate Plan
|Field Experience Paralegal Studies
|Contemporary Legal Issues: Constitutional Law in the 21st Century
|Real Estate Practice
|Introduction to Professional Legal Writing - GWAR 1
|Computer Application in Law Practice
|Trademarks and Copyrights
1 PLS 414GW is required of all students who do not have a bachelor's degree.