The Paralegal Studies Program at Volunteer State is designed to educate students to assist attorneys within a legal environment. It offers two degrees: (1) Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.), designed to prepare students for immediate entry or career growth in the paralegal field and (2) Associate of Science (A.S.), designed for those students wishing to transfer to a four year institution (after completion of their coursework at Volunteer State) with a major or minor in Paralegal Studies, or those seeking a four-year degree in other disciplines but wish a general background in legal knowledge and skills important to a pre-law education. (Note: A.S. students should consult with their four-year institution regarding this program of study.) For full-time students, either degree may be completed in two years. The time period for part-time students may vary according to the number of credit hours taken each semester.
The program offers day, evening, and weekend classes. Some general education courses are offered off campus and in a Distance Education format. Please consult each semester’s schedule of classes for location and class times.
Note: “Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law.”
Entry and Continuation in the Paralegal Studies Program
To be considered as either an A.A.S. or A.S. Paralegal Studies Student, an interested student must:
- Complete an application and meet the requirements of the Admissions and Records office.
- Complete any developmental courses (if needed) except mathematics, which may be taken concurrently with LAW courses. NOTE: mathematics is required for full admission to the College.
- Complete ENGL 1010 and LAW 101 with a final grade of “C” or better.
- Complete an interview or attend a meeting with the faculty concerning the program and your entry.
- Maintain a GPA of at least 2.0 with no grade below “C” in English 1010 or any LAW course.
- Follow the planned curriculum.
General Information Regarding the Paralegal Profession
The paralegal profession is one of the fastest growing careers according to the U.S. Department of Labor statistics. Paralegals or Legal Assistants are defined by the American Bar Association 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.”
Employment opportunities exist for paralegals in a variety of legal environments. Volunteer State program graduates work in settings including: large and small private practice law firms, legal departments in large and small corporations; legal services offices, government agencies, insurance companies, etc. Paralegal job titles may vary. They are described as legal assistants, legal technicians, etc. Some individuals with paralegal backgrounds work in related occupations with titles including law office managers, insurance adjusters, government program specialists, lobbyists, and court clerks. Paralegals perform various duties under the supervision of a lawyer. These activities may involve interviewing clients and witnesses, organizing case materials, monitoring legislation and regulations, drafting legal documents, and assisting an attorney in trial.
Paralegal Studies students must take a variety of Paralegal Studies courses (such as Introduction to Law, Legal Research, Civil Trial and Appellate Practice, etc.) and general education courses (such as English Composition, Natural Science, Mathematics, etc.) under either the Associate of Applied Science or the Associate of Science degree program. The number of such courses and their subjects may differ. Please refer to the catalog for additional information including requirements for entry and continuation in the program.