Upon successful completion of the Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies Associate in Science degree program, the student will be prepared to work as a Paralegal (Legal Assistant) and legal support professional in a variety of settings, including in administrative agencies, corporations, government, insurance companies, nonprofit organizations, private law firms, and other legal environments. This degree program is specifically designed to provide students with the analytical abilities, oral and written communication skills, technological proficiency, and legal competency necessary to assist attorneys in the practice of law. Please note: Paralegals (Legal Assistants) may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law. A Paralegal (Legal Assistant) may not engage in, encourage, or contribute to any act which could constitute the unauthorized practice of law. The student will take academic courses, including general education and legal specialty courses, to complete the requirements to become a paralegal according to California law. General education courses develop critical reasoning and writing skills that enhance a student’s professional knowledge, skills, and aptitude. Through legal specialty courses, the student will receive a breadth of training in litigation and transactional practices, as well as administrative, civil, and criminal law and procedures in a variety of fields of law. Topics embedded in most legal specialty courses in the program include Paralegal (Legal Assistant) skills and practices, technology use, research, writing, oral communication, legal document production, ethics, and professional responsibility and development. Prior to entering the Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies degree program and its introductory course, LAW 002, students are strongly encouraged to complete the 21-unit Pre-Law Studies Certificate of Achievement at San Joaquin Delta College in order to develop and demonstrate competency in oral communication, writing proficiency at the college level, and appropriate technology skills to succeed in the program. The Pre-Law Studies certificate can be completed within a one year period in person and/or online. Completion of the Pre-Law Studies certificate secures the benefits of the statewide Pathway to Law program and usually best prepares students for success in the Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies program. If the Pre-Law Studies certificate is not completed prior to entry into the Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies degree program, then students should consider completing the certificate and degree concurrently. Students who already possess an Associate in Arts or Science Degree or a Bachelor of Arts or Science Degree from any accredited college or university should seek to earn the Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies Certificate of Achievement rather than the A.S. degree because adequate general education will have already been completed through the prior degree program. In compliance with California Business and Professions Code section 6450 regarding preparation for work in this field, this degree consists of 31 units of law-related legal specialty courses that can be completed in one year, as well as any courses required to complete the San Joaquin Delta College Associate Degree General Education pattern, IGETC, or the CSU General Education pattern. Whereas general education courses in this degree program are typically fully transferable, legal specialty courses in this degree program will not likely help fulfill requirements for a bachelor’s degree upon transfer. When completing general education requirements, it is strongly recommended that students select courses that also fulfill the requirements of the 21-unit Pre-Law Studies Certificate at San Joaquin Delta College. Further, while completing the Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies degree program, a student should choose general education requirements which apply both toward college graduation requirements and toward the bachelor’s degree requirements at the four-year institution in which he/she plans to transfer, if any. Students are encouraged to transfer to a four-year institution to complete a bachelor’s degree in any field of interest upon completion of the Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies program.
Program Learning Outcomes
- Program completers will demonstrate writing proficiency at the college level and the ability to produce legal documents as a paralegal/legal assistant.
- Program completers will demonstrate competency in oral communication and interpersonal skills necessary to succeed as a paralegal/legal assistant.
- Program completers will demonstrate appropriate technology skills to succeed as a paralegal/legal assistant.
- Program completers will demonstrate skills at the end of the program to secure employment in a paralegal/legal assistant position and/or to transfer to a college to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree.
- Program completers will demonstrate the ability to describe the practice of law and the paralegal’s role in the legal profession.
- Program completers will demonstrate the skills and knowledge needed to do legal research and analysis.
- Program completers will demonstrate the ability to apply the ethical rules and regulations applicable to paralegals and other legal professionals to given situations.
- Program completers will demonstrate skills needed to function in those areas of practice offered as electives by the program.
- Program completers will demonstrate knowledge and abilities to succeed as a paralegal/legal assistant based on the balanced education they receive from the integration of general education, legal theory, and practical legal course work.
- Program completers will be prepared with substantive legal knowledge and practical skills for positions as paralegals/legal assistants as a means of improving their own quality of life and the accessibility, quality and affordability of legal services for the people of the State of California.
- Program completers will demonstrate strong written and oral communication skills to produce legal documents, to ethically and effectively interact with others, and to complete tasks performed by paralegal/legal assistants.
- Program completers will demonstrate technology skills appropriate to work successfully as a paralegal/legal assistant.