The Paralegal Certificate Program is designed and taught by local, practicing attorneys to prepare participants to be knowledgeable, ethical, and effective while emphasizing legal areas where paralegals are most in demand.
Paralegals, also called legal assistants, perform many tasks under attorney supervision, such as legal research, document drafting, fact investigation, case management, and preparation for trial.
The program is comprised of three phases/semesters: Paralegal 1, Paralegal 2, and Paralegal 3. The program builds skills from the ground up at an accelerated rate (approximately 14 weeks long per phase). The entire program can be completed in 11 months.
Although participants will receive a broad-based education developing the knowledge needed to work in any jurisdiction/state, the program prepares participants to work in a Texas law office. Upon completion of the program, you will receive a UTSA Paralegal Certificate of Completion.
The Paralegal Program consists of the following sections: Introduction to Law, Legal Research, Civil Litigation I & II, Legal Writing, Contracts and Business Organizations, Nexis Uni and TXdocs, Family Law, Wills and Probate, and Criminal Law and Procedure.
The paralegal's role in a family law practice, including the substantive law and procedures relating to divorce, community property, conservatorship and child support.
The paralegal's role in the criminal justice system with emphasis on legal research and drafting projects. Includes criminal law discovery lab and career skills workshops.
The paralegal's role in a wills and probate practice, including the law of intestate succession, preparation of basic wills and other estate planning documents.
Interviewing clients and witnesses; recognizing causes of action underlying civil litigation, including intentional torts, negligence and professional.
Hands-on use of digests, case reporters, statutory codes and secondary sources to locate relevant law; introduction to legal analysis and legal writing.
Learn to leverage technology to complement traditional legal research methods and streamline legal document drafting.
In Texas, Paralegal and Legal Assistant positions are expected to grow at a rate of 26% between 2018-2028, almost seven-times faster than the average growth rate of 4% for all occupations nation-wide.
According to U.S. News and World Report, Paralegal is ranked as the 53rd best job in the 2021 100 Best Jobs rankings. The rankings consider annual salary, career advancement, work-life balance, and career demand to determine rank.
Sample of reported job titles include: Certified Paralegal, Corporate Law Assistant, Law Associate, Legal Analyst, Legal Assistant, Litigation Paralegal, Paralegal, Paralegal Assistant, Paralegal Specialist, Real Estate Paralegal, Immigration Paralegal.
It is a common misconception that paralegals work exclusively in law firms. Paralegals are employed in a wide variety of industries including:
*average growth rate of 4% for all occupations
Experiential learning is a critical component of the Paralegal Program. In an effort to connect students to the paralegal profession, students receive a 12-month student-membership to the San Antonio Paralegal Association (SAPA), one of the largest paralegal professional associations in the State of Texas.
For over 40 years, SAPA has worked with local bar associations to engage members of the legal profession in South Texas. Current members are employed across a variety of industries including banking, oil and gas, manufacturing, and litigation services. Several members of SAPA’s Board of Directors are employed by Fortune 500 companies.
Following the same format as a traditional classroom learning environment, the virtual classroom delivers to students the same professional toolbox as face-to-face instruction.
This online, asynchronous learning model is instructed by practicing attorneys and designed to quickly and efficiently develop the job skills demanded by legal employers.
Want to learn more about the Paralegal Certificate Program before you register? Sign up to attend an information session!
Led by Paralegal Program Coordinator Tina Hill, you will be introduced to program curriculum, the opportunity outlook in the paralegal field, and the required skills to become a successful paralegal.
Can't decide what learning option is best for you? The advantages of both the online and live, virtual classroom delivery method will be discussed.
The program is comprised of three phases/semesters: Paralegal 1, Paralegal 2, and Paralegal 3. The program builds skills from the ground up at an accelerated rate (approximately 14 weeks long per phase). The entire program can be completed in 11 months
Phase 1 includes: Introduction to Law, Legal Research, and Civil Litigation I. This phase takes approximately 14 weeks to complete.
Phase 2 includes: Civil Litigation II, Legal Writing, Contracts and Business Organizations, LexisNexis and ProDoc. This phase takes approximately 14 weeks to complete.
Phase 3 includes: Family Law, Wills and Probate, Criminal Law and Procedure. This phase takes approximately 14 weeks to complete.
The program consists of three semesters. Program cost for each semester is $1,750. Additionally, in any given semester a student may pay tuition using a payment plan..
UTSA has declined to pursue approval by the American Bar Association (ABA) because such an approval is not required for students to take the national Certified Legal Assistant (CLA)/Certified Paralegal (CP) exam if they meet certain NALA requirements. The program, along with some college credit or experience as a legal assistant, qualifies students to sit for the NALA national Certified Legal Assistant Exam. Visit NALA's website for more information.
Completing the UTSA Paralegal Certificate Program does not make you a Certified Legal Assistant (CLA). The certificate earned in the UTSA program is, however, widely recognized by employers and acts as a stepping stone toward gaining your CLA status. The CLA exam is administered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). NALA requires that candidates wishing to sit for the certification exam must possess at least 45 verifiable college semester hours in any field of study and have completed an educational program like the UTSA Paralegal Certificate Program. NALA sets its own eligibility requirements and fees, sponsors the exam review courses, and administers the exam. Various combinations of credentials may be acceptable. Students are not required to take the CLA exam to work as a paralegal, though many employers do look for the CLA credential when hiring.
The CLA exam is offered every January, May, and September. Registration for the exam is through NALA, not UTSA. The CLA exam is administered at locations across the United States and many schools, universities and junior colleges may serve as testing centers through an arrangement with NALA. The testing date deadlines, application forms, fee information, and other test related information is available at www.nala.org.
Individuals wishing to work in the paralegal field typically will need one of the following: a paralegal certificate, a college degree, the CLA credential, or experience in the legal field. Some large law firms and corporate legal departments seek job candidates with both a college degree and a paralegal certificate. Others simply require job skills, a good attitude and the ability to get the job done. Hiring criteria appears to be the most flexible among the small to mid-sized law firms, particularly among the solo practitioners.
While no school can guarantee that every student who completes its program will find a job, our program does include important tools to help you obtain a job in the legal field. All classroom students will receive assistance in drafting a resume and writing a cover letter particular to the legal industry, and will participate in a mock interview. Online students and alumni can have their resume and/or cover letter reviewed by the program director. Additionally, the Paralegal Program office posts job opportunities in the San Antonio area and surrounding areas for students and alumni.