Prepare for a career as a paralegal or legal assistant
Paralegals are professionals trained in the delivery of various legal services, and their functions include legal interviewing, legal research, drafting of legal documents, and law office administration.
Working with attorneys or under permission granted by statutes, paralegals fill a vital role in the legal community. The American Bar Association has recognized the position of paralegal as an important factor in helping the legal profession meet the increasing demand for legal services. Professional opportunities are many and varied:
- Private law firms will continue to be the largest employers of paralegals.
- Jobs are also expected to grow in corporate legal departments, insurance companies, real estate and title insurance firms, and banks.
- Opportunities are projected to expand in the public sector, including community legal service programs; federal, state and local government agencies; consumer organizations; and the courts.
The certificate’s various topics provide participants with the scope of practice and competencies useful in working with supervising attorneys who may specialize in a variety of legal fields and specialties: antitrust, bankruptcy, consumer protection, corporate and criminal law, domestic relations, insurance, defense, litigation, probate, real estate, and taxation. This certificate program develops participants’ skills and expertise in legal research; students conduct legal research over the Internet using LexisNexis online. Faculty are experienced attorneys.
Students in the University of Delaware’s Paralegal Certificate have free access to the LexisNexis© legal research system for the duration of the program.
Course OutlineTo earn the Paralegal Certificate, all six of the following modules must be successfully completed with a grade of "C" or above:
Introduction to Law for Paralegals
This introductory module in the certificate provides a general introduction to law with an emphasis on the role of the paralegal in the firm or organization. Topics covered include:
- General concepts of the law
- The American system of law (constitutional, statutory, tort)
- Court systems and procedures
Legal Research and Writing
Provides students the fundamentals for basic legal research and writing. Some of these fundamentals include:
- Reviewing the American legal system
- Researching primary and secondary legal authority
- Reviewing the rules of citation
- Introducing research and writing strategies
Students are required to research and draft legal documents. Students conduct legal research using the following sources: LexisNexis online, the University of Delaware’s Morris Library in Newark, and local law libraries.
This module defines the paralegal’s role in the litigation process, from initial client interview to appeal. Topics of study include:
- Fact investigation
- Draft pleadings
- Summary and control of documents and deposition transcripts
- Pre-trial organization
- Post-trial considerations
The course also reviews the structure and jurisdiction of federal and state courts, providing instruction on how to use the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Provides students with a basic understanding of tort law, which applies to civil wrongs other than breaches of contract. Students study and analyze:
- General concepts
- Preliminary issues
- Strict liability
- Product liability
- Defamation and related issues
- Pertinent defenses and remedies to these torts
Students also utilize and enhance their legal research and writing skills in the field of torts.
This module includes learning how binding contracts are formed and how to understand them. Topics covered include pitfalls that can make contracts invalid as well as the defenses that may allow a party to avoid having to fulfill obligations under a valid contract. It also covers how to calculate damages for breaches of contract. The module provides instruction in how to draft typical clauses that appear in many contracts.
Criminal Law and Procedure
Focuses on the procedural and substantive areas of common law crimes. Topics covered will address some of the issues that emanate from the fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States. The areas of criminal law that are covered include:
- General concepts
- Crimes against people
- Crimes against property
- Theft crimes
- The respective defenses of the above areas
The Paralegal Certificate is designed to help you:
- Earn a valuable career credential as a paralegal
- Acquire new skills to advance in your position
- Learn from experienced attorneys and judges in this established University program
- Complete your certificate in one year with evening study in Wilmington
Who should participate
This program will benefit those who may wish to enter the field of law and legal services, or change careers. It will also benefit those who have experience in the field of law but wish to earn a valuable credential for advancement.
As a paralegal, what salary can I expect?
Paralegal salaries differ based on experience and geographical location. Here are some resources for general compensation information:
Where can I find other information about the paralegal profession?
PrerequisitesBasic computer knowledge and experience, including word processing and email, is required of all students. Students will need access to a computer, with a printer, that runs recent versions of word processing software, such as Microsoft Word, and an internet browser, such as Internet Explorer.
Delaware County Paralegal Association Scholarship
The Delaware County Paralegal Association (DCPA) sponsors a Paralegal Studies Scholarship for an individual who is pursuing a certificate or degree in paralegal studies. Visit the Delaware County Paralegal Association website for eligibility requirements and the application.
Delaware Paralegal Association Discount
Members of the Delaware Paralegal Association receive a 15 percent discount when enrolling in this program. Please call 302-831-7600 to apply this discount.
“One of the best features of UD’s Paralegal Certificate is the instructors, all of whom actively practice law." - Elizabeth Romero
"I felt that the program had prepared me to consider a wide range of opportunities in the legal field." - Jill Prettyman Demmy
"It made practical sense to enroll in the program to become familiar with legal terminology and concepts within the context of the Delaware legal system." - Carmen Jordan-Cox, Ph.D.
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