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Paralegal Program - FAQ

What is a paralegal? 

A paralegal is a person, qualified by education, training, or work experience, who is employed by an organization.  Paralegals are qualified to perform their responsibilities by completing an educational program, receiving training on the job, or through actual work experience.  Paralegals perform substantive legal work that would otherwise be done by attorneys.

Where do paralegals work?

Seventy percent of paralegals work in law firms.  Others work for corporate legal departments, non-profit organizations, and government agencies.  Paralegals are found in all types of organizations and the type of work they do is as diverse as the organizations in which they work. 

Who should take this course?
 
This course is designed for people who want to enter the legal field, those who are currently employed in the legal field, people who are considering going to law school, foreign attorneys who want to work in the legal field in the U.S., and people who want a career change.

What are the prerequisites to take the paralegal course?
 
There are no educational prerequisites to take the paralegal course. In terms of employment, there are many successful paralegals who do not have degrees. Of course, the more education you have, the better, in terms of employability.

Basic computer skills are vital in the paralegal profession and necessary for the class.

What is the class schedule?

The UHD Paralegal Program is offered on the weekends. Classes start at 9:00 and end at 5:00 on Saturdays and Sundays, for a total of 18 class days.

Are any of the classes provided online?
 
No. The UHD Paralegal Certificate Program is a face-to-face program, providing opportunities to practice paralegal skills individually, as well as in small and large groups.

How many classes can I miss?
 
Because this program is comprehensive and fast-paced, students should not miss any days. Students may, however, miss a total of two days and still get a certificate, as long as the student maintains a passing grade average and completes field work assignments.  If you miss more than two days, for any reason, you must retake the program in another semester in order to get a certificate.
 
How much does the course cost?
 
Tuition for the course is $4,495. This does not include the cost of the two books that each student must have.
 
Is financial aid available?

The traditional or F.A.F.S.A based financial aid is not available for paralegal students because this course is a not-for-credit course. This means that the training you receive in this course is sufficient on its own. It is not part of a degree plan.

However, there are two other options:

  •        1. Smart Loans from Sallie Mae (application is available on our website)
  •        2. Installment plan.
What are paralegals paid?

It's the way lawyers start the answer to most questions, but the truth is: it depends. As in most professions, paralegal salaries vary widely depending on experience, education, legal skills, and language skills. Salaries also vary widely depending on the employer. Large firms, midsize firms, small firms, non-profit organizations, corporate legal departments, and government agencies all have different pay scales. 

What is the ABA?
 

ABA stands for American Bar Association. The ABA accredits law schools and it offers approval for some kinds of paralegal programs. The ABA is a professional organization and lawyers may, but are not required to, join the ABA by paying a membership fee to join the ABA.

Does the ABA have to approve all paralegal programs?

No. The ABA started offering ABA approval to paralegal programs when free-standing paralegal schools were being established. The ABA does not offer ABA approval to paralegal certificate programs at four-year universities because universities are accredited by Higher Education Coordinating Boards.  Our graduates have never found this to be an impediment to legal employment because the UH Program is accredited by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the UH Paralegal Program has an excellent reputation in the legal community.

What is the State Bar of Texas?

The State Bar of Texas is the body that oversees all attorneys who are licensed to practice law in Texas.

Does the State Bar of Texas approve paralegal programs in Texas?
 
No, but the State Bar of Texas does have standards for paralegals. The State Bar of Texas encourages attorneys to hire paralegals who have:

  • A bachelor's or higher degree in any field together with a minimum of one  year of employment experience performing substantive legal work under the direct supervision of a duly licensed attorney AND completion of 15 hours of Continuing Legal Education within that year; or
  • A certificate of completion from an ABA-approved program of education and training for paralegals; or
  • A certificate of completion from a paralegal program administered by any college or university accredited or approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board or its equivalent in another state.

Do students have access to any legal software programs or legal research tools?

Yes. Students have access to WestLaw during the course, as well as ProDoc Document Production software.

How much time should students expect to spend on homework during the course?

While time studying and completing homework varies, most students spend 10 - 30 hours a week on homework and preparing for tests.

What are the grade requirements for passing the course?

Students must achieve an average of 70 or above in the program in order to earn a UHD Paralegal Certificate. 

What makes the UHD Paralegal Program different?
 
The UHD Paralegal Program's curriculum is specifically designed to offer skills-based paralegal training rather than in-depth training in various areas of substantive law. You will learn legal vocabulary so that you can understand and participate in conversations in legal workplaces. You will learn about many laws and many different areas of the law. What you learn in the course will allow you to hit the ground running when you start your first paralegal job.

Homework is assigned to provide time for you to work on the paralegal skills you're learning. You are tested over the areas of law that are covered in class. The instructor is a licensed attorney who is available to quickly respond to questions or concerns. Jac Brennan wrote the curriculum and has been the instructor for the paralegal program since 2006.

All students participate in a file-to-trial mock trial. Students draft the documents and perform the functions that paralegals perform in preparing for a trial, including: drafting pleadings, propounding discovery, answering discovery requests, drafting motions, preparing witnesses, preparing questions and arguments, as well as legal research and case research.

At least twenty guest speakers, who are attorneys and senior paralegals, make presentations in nearly every class, providing insight and instruction about many different areas of the law, as well as a variety of legal practice settings.

How do I find out more?
 
We recommend that you attend one of the monthly Information Sessions. You can register online at www.uhd.edu/paralegal.

I have questions that are not answered here. Who should I ask?

If you have questions about how to register for either an Information Session or the Paralegal Certificate Program, contact Krishnan at krishnang@uhd.edu or call 713-221-8032. If you have questions about the course or the paralegal profession, contact Jac Brennan at jacbrennan@gmail.com 

Last updated 11/8/2018 5:47 AM