Earn your bachelor's degree in Paralegal Studies at SPC
SPC's American Bar Association (ABA) approved Paralegal Studies programs are not only affordable, but will also make you highly desirable in the job market. The program replicates real-life situations in the paralegal world in order to strengthen your critical thinking skills, your oral and written communications skills and your practical and ethical understanding of the law.
This program prepares you for the following industry certifications:
- National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) Certified Paralegal - Certified Legal Assistant
- We offer classes on an annual rotation and in the evening to allow you to work full time while in school.
- Our classes are taught exclusively by local practicing attorneys and sitting judges.
- SPC has the only public baccalaureate program approved by the ABA in Florida.
- We admit students three times a year - January, May and August.
- Your assignments replicate real life situations to strengthen critical thinking, oral and written communication skills and practical, ethical understanding.
- Once you graduate, you can take the Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) examination offered through the National Association of Legal Assistants.
National Statistics on Paralegals in the Workplace
The most recent paralegal study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that nationally:
- Seven of 10 work for law firms; others work for corporate legal departments and government agencies.
- Most entrants have an associate's degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor's degree coupled with a certificate in paralegal studies.
- Employment is projected to grow much faster than average, as employers try to reduce costs by hiring paralegals to do tasks lawyers previously performed.
- Competition for jobs should continue; experienced, formally trained paralegals should have the best employment opportunities.
Florida Bar studies have similar findings, but all of the national paralegal organizations agree that to be employable in this exciting field, your starting point is a solid paralegal education. St. Petersburg College is proud to offer its American Bar Association-approved and regionally accredited program for your consideration.
We prepare you to work as a paralegal or legal assistant, a job that is expected to grow faster than average.
Paralegals are instrumental in the daily operation of the many entities and offices that practice law, including law offices, corporations and governmental offices. Organizational skills remains one of the highest attributes a paralegal can maintain.For many years, paralegals have assisted attorneys in every aspect of their practices, but there have been few defined standards. This is changing rapidly, and Florida is one of the states leading the way.
Approved by the ABA
All of SPC's paralegal programs are approved by the American Bar Association.
Paralegals are not licensed attorneys. A legal assistant or paralegal is 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.
To be admitted to our Bachelor of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies degree program, you need:
- A cumulative GPA of 2.0 on a 4.00 scale in all college classes
- 60 credits from a regionally accredited institution, including:
- 15 credits of transferable general education courses
- ENC1101 Composition I or equivalent
- A college math course: MAT 1033, MAT 1100, STA 2023, STA 2023H or any MAC, MGF, MTG, MAS math prefix
- The following paralegal support courses with a grade of C or better
- PLA1003 Introduction to Paralegalism
- PLA1104 Legal Research and Writing
- PLA1763 Law Office Management
- PLA2114 Advanced Legal Research
- PLA2203 Civil Litigation
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a paralegal?
Paralegals, also known as legal assistants, are a distinguishable group of persons who assist attorneys in the delivery of legal services. Through formal education, training and experience, paralegals have knowledge and expertise regarding the legal system and substantive and procedural law which qualify them to do work of a legal nature under the supervision of an attorney. (This is the American Bar Association's definition.)
Is there a difference between a paralegal and a legal assistant?
The terms are used interchangeably, much as the terms lawyer and attorney are used interchangeably. Every state, including Florida, regulates the practice of law through a licensing procedure. In all states paralegals/legal assistants are prohibited from practicing law without a license to practice law. There is no licensing procedure for legal assistants at this time, although the Florida Bar has proposed a scheme of voluntary regulation for eligible paralegals.
How do you become a paralegal?
In the past, many paralegals were trained on the job, but today, most paralegals are trained in training programs in community colleges and four-year schools. Most of the community college programs are A.S. degree programs, which contain a component of general education courses but are principally devoted to legal specialty courses. The B.A.S. degrees include more general education courses as well as more focus on critical thinking and communication skills as they are utilized in the law. Employers are often looking for paralegals who have graduated from college programs approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). Attending a college with successful job placement services and gaining experience through internship programs are a big help in launching a paralegal career. Although there is no licensing for paralegals in Florida, passage of a voluntary national certification exam called the Certified Legal Assisting Exam administered by the National Association of Legal Assistants adds to your credibility as a professional.Those with a bachelor's degree are eligible to sit for the examination upon completion of fifteen credit hours of PLA prefixed classes.
What is American Bar Association (ABA) approval?
The American Bar Association approves paralegal educational programs which satisfy its strict quality guidelines. An institution's curriculum, faculty, administration, academic resources, student services and library facilities are evaluated as part of the ABA approval process.
Where are paralegals employed?
The most obvious place to find paralegals is in the traditional law office. Although this career is relatively new, having emerged since the 1970's, today firms of all sizes regularly employ a variety of paralegals. Government offices use paralegals, as do private companies. Sometimes the paralegal works in the corporate counsel's office and sometimes the paralegal hires the outside attorneys for the corporation.
Bachelor of Applied Science Program Goals
- Acquire and implement advanced critical thinking and analytical skills needed to effectively problem solve.
- Demonstrate the appropriate use of communication and organizational skills within and outside the legal system.
- Execute the technical skills, including legal research and writing, needed to succeed in the legal profession.
- Exhibit the ability to deliver professional and ethical legal services in a culturally and locally appropriate manner.
- Demonstrate an advanced knowledge and understanding of the American legal system.