USF's Paralegal Certificate Program was designed for paralegals by paralegals, attorneys and judges across the country. The hands-on program focuses on the real world skill sets in demand by law firms, legal divisions, attorneys, corporations, and government agencies. Our paralegal program is designed with the working student in mind and provides the education needed to begin a paralegal career or advance an existing career in the legal field.
In just four months, our innovative paralegal certificate program teaches the knowledge and skills used daily by paralegals and most desired in the workplace. In this unique paralegal certificate program, taught by an esteemed faculty of judges and attorneys, students will learn legal processes, court structure, interviewing, investigation, document preparation, file maintenance, correspondence, research, writing and analysis, as well as substantive topics of law, such as torts, contracts and civil procedure.
Students will be trained in online legal research with individual subscriptions to Lexis and Westlaw. USF's Paralegal Certificate Program offers a high-quality educational experience providing students with access to many resources. These resources include customized texts and dynamic interactive online support tools such as practice exercise questions, lecture notes, quizzes, writing labs, mock exams and more.
University of South Florida's On-Campus and Online Paralegal Certificate Program will include a comprehensive and intensive educational experience for students unsurpassed by any other program.
- Legal staff who wish to advance their careers and qualify for lawful designation as a paralegal.
- Career changers looking for a professional career with strong growth potential.
- Individuals who want to gain a clearer understanding of the legal process.
- Individuals considering law school and seeking an introduction to the field to gain a competitive advantage.
Areas of study in the University of South Florida Paralegal Certificate Program will
INTRODUCTION TO THE LEGAL FIELD
Students will learn what kind of job opportunities exist and what tasks a paralegal may perform.
By presenting an actual legal matter and following it throughout the legal process, students are introduced to the most relevant legal terms. The case presented is tracked through both the civil and criminal court procedures.
STAGES OF LITIGATION
The three stages of the litigation process are presented, and the functions a paralegal may perform during each stage are discussed.
Students discuss various forms of evidence, including direct, circumstantial, oral, physical and hearsay. The elements of admissibility are presented, as are the procedures for presentation of evidence to the court.
LAW OFFICE INVESTIGATION
Skip tracing, formal and informal witness statements, the obtaining of public documents, and other investigative matters are presented.
Specific techniques will be presented and discussed for conducting client interviews.
Students will develop skills to analyze case law & statutes, including IRAC method.
LEGAL MEMORANDUM FORM
After learning the analytical process, students will analyze cases and statutes. Students will then be taught how to create a legal memorandum.
BLUEBOOK CITATION FORM
Students will learn the most broadly used system of legal citation.
Students will study pleadings and will prepare a Summons & Complaint, as well as other court documents.
Students will be taught to create sets of Interrogatories, Requests for Admissions, and Requests for Production and Inspection of Documents.
Students will learn the rules relevant to discovery and will learn how to track both sent and received discovery documents.
PREPARING FOR AND DIGESTING DEPOSITIONS
Students will study various considerations for deposition setup. Students will be provided with a deposition transcript and will be taught to summarize that document.
UTILIZATION OF LEGAL FORMS
Students will learn to manipulate templates and utilize formbooks.
Learn to identify primary, secondary, mandatory, persuasive, and non-authority.
MOTIONS, NOTICES, AND BRIEFS
Learn various forms of motions and prepare a motion, notice, and brief.
WESTLAW TRAINING AND ACCESS
Students will receive training and be provided with individual access to Westlaw Online Legal Research for the duration of the class.
LEXIS TRAINING AND ACCESS
Students will receive training and be provided with individual access to Lexis Advance Online Legal Research for the duration of the class.
LEGAL RESEARCH SKILLS
By using hands-on, interactive training devices, students will learn proper law library utilization: how to locate primary authority, how to use secondary sources, how to update research sources, how to validate authority using Shepard's, and how to utilize specific legal materials. Students will be trained in The Key Number System and the Total Client Service Library.
Proper file maintenance is discussed. Students will be required to assemble all documents created in the class into a client file for evaluation.
LAW OFFICE ETIQUETTE
Students will learn how to properly present themselves in a law office environment, including dress considerations, telephone tips, and a discussion of office politics.
Students will learn how to create and maintain a client file.
TICKLER AND CALENDARING SYSTEMS
The class will discuss various forms of reminder systems for important due dates, and both hard-copy and computer-based calendaring methods.
ELECTRONIC FILING FOR COURTS
Students will develop skills related to Court Management/Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF). This is the system used by PACER, the most broadly utilized legal document e-filing tool.
Students will learn procedures and issues surrounding the disclosure of electronically stored information.
Students will learn the importance of keeping track of billable hours.
TRIAL NOTEBOOK PREPARATION
Students will learn how to prepare an ad-hoc trial notebook for use at trial.
LEGAL ADVICE & REPRESENTATION
The class will be instructed in rules preventing a paralegal from providing legal advice and will discuss what does and does not constitute such advice. Students will discuss the rules restricting paralegal representation.
ABA RULES OF ETHICS
Students will become familiar with the ABA Rules that guide the ethical behavior of attorneys and will discuss how these rules affect paralegals in their day-to-day lives.
LAW OFFICE ETHICS
Students will be taught to maintain a high ethical standard. To facilitate the learning process, students will be presented with ethical scenarios and potential pitfalls to avoid.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT & COURT STRUCTURE
Students will learn the structure of government and the laws that apply to each branch. Students will be instructed in the basic differences between state and federal jurisdiction, as well as the federal trial and appellate jurisdictions. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure will be introduced.
THE ARBITRATION PROCESS
The class will learn how the arbitration process works and will learn the difference between mandatory and binding arbitration. The class will also learn new trends in extra-judicial proceedings, such as "Mini-Trials."
COURT STRUCTURE, PROCEDURES, & COURT RULES
Trial and appellate courts will be discussed, including how to access filing procedures for specific courts. Students are taught the most frequently used court rules and are also taught the skills necessary for finding any rule for specific procedural questions.
TORT LAW FOR PARALEGALS
Students will learn the foundations of tort law, including elements and defenses for the most common civil actions that result in litigation.
CONTRACT LAW FOR PARALEGALS
The practical skills related to a paralegal's role in contract law, including scenarios, contract construction, and the ability to identify flaws that could identify faulty agreements.
Students will receive instruction in preparing resumes and cover letters, as well as tips for interviewing.
STRATEGIES FOR EMPLOYMENT
Multiple strategies for seeking employment will be discussed, including traditional and non-traditional methods.
The Comprehensive Support Program Includes:
Client-Based and Case Study Educational Experience
At the inception of the program, each student is provided with his or her own personal client file which is an individualized hypothetical fact pattern. The research and writing assignments are tailored to the particular student's client. Thereafter, the student is required to maintain their client file throughout the program, including indexing, filing final assignments, and keeping track of billable hours.
The site is a communication portal and e-learning platform among students, instructors and administrators. Key site features are chat rooms, online assignment submissions, posting of job opportunities, instructor and administrator announcements, privately maintained test scores and grades, and the ability to send announcements directly to students via email.
Study Support Website
This site features dynamic tools designed to make the in-class learning experience more efficient and effective. Each text chapter and section of the student manuals are supported on the ParaStudent website. Students are provided with extensive support through features which include:
Various exercises with instantaneous feedback including multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, online crossword puzzles and many other methods designed for step-by-step self-evaluation as students progress throughout the program.
b. Viewpoints and Demonstrations
Graphical demonstration tools of materials and processes provide students with alternative methods designed to enhance the absorption of concepts and information.
c. Paralegal Perspectives
For every skill set being taught, there are real-life stories or examples of how that skill set affects paralegals in the workplace, including success stories and cautionary tales relevant to the skills in development.
d. Research Labs
The USF Program uniquely offers training in law library research, Westlaw online research and Lexis online research. USF's Paralegal Certificate Program is the only program offering training in all three of the above.
e. Writing Labs
Students are provided with in-class instruction on legal writing in conjunction with access to the Legal Writing Labs. These labs provide templates which permit online modifications for writing assignments. As students progress through the assignments, they access written instructions for each element of every document on a sidebar tool or, if they prefer, they may listen to an instructor provide step-by-step audio instructions. The Writing Labs on Demand include every U.S. state and territory, including Federal court.
f. Citation Labs
Interactive online exercises and step-by-step instruction assist students in learning to create federal and state citations.
g. Mock Exams
The online Mock Exams are an exceptional teaching tool. When the Mock Exam is submitted, the student is immediately provided with their actual grade as well as the correct answers. Additionally, the students are provided with Mock Exam Answer Study Links which thoroughly explain the rationale for each answer. Once students learn exactly why their response was not accurate, they are not likely to make the same mistake in the future.
No application is required. You may simply register by following the registration link.
- Students enrolling in the USF Paralegal Certificate Program must have a high school diploma or equivalent.
- Participants must successfully complete the Essential Skills course and substantive topic courses to earn the University of South Florida Continuing Education Paralegal Certificate.
- Class projects and exams, including a comprehensive final will be administered.
- Participants must score 70 percent or better on the final exam, obtain a per class average of 70 percent and meet attendance requirements in order to earn the certificate.
Whether you choose our on-campus program or online program, be assured that you will develop the same skills and knowledge. The certificate makes no distinction between the on-campus or online program, and those who successfully complete the program will be awarded a Paralegal Certificate from Continuing Education at the University of South Florida.
On-Campus Program Register Now!
Cost of Attendance: $4,995*
- In person instruction from judges and attorneys
- Two evenings per week for four months
- Extensive online study support
- Successful graduates receive a Paralegal Certificate from Continuing Education at the University of South Florida
- Good for students who prefer a more structured environment
Online Program Register Now!
Cost of Attendance: $6,995*
- Go-at-your-own-pace format
- Study online when it is convenient for you
- Every student is assigned her or his own attorney instructor
- Students are provided with the instructor's email and phone number
- Successful graduates receive a Paralegal Certificate from Continuing Education at the University of South Florida
- Best for students who are able to be disciplined and focused
*Fee does not include cost of textbooks, approximately $600. A textbook list and ordering instructions will be provided.
This program may be eligible for a payment plan where typically the total cost of attendance is divided in 5 equal payments and the last payment takes place prior to class start. For a detailed plan please call 813-974-6263.
Contact us at: (813) 974-6263 or CE-Inquiries@usf.edu
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