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Paralegal Program Options Comparison

Since 1971, the University of New Haven has offered students programs in paralegal studies.  Presently, through the University's Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, the Legal Studies Program offers the following three distinct paralegal program options to educate students to enter this interesting and growing field:

  1. B.S. in Legal Studies, with Concentration in Paralegal Studies;
  2. Associate Degree in Legal Studies; and
  3. Paralegal Studies Certificate

Students, in consultation with a UNH legal studies adviser, should choose the option which best fits their interests, academic goals, and career choices. All three paralegal program options are approved by the American Bar Association.

 

WHY PURSUE PARALEGAL STUDIES?

The paralegal profession has been and continues to be a growing and dynamic occupation path in which paralegals perform interesting, varied, and rewarding work in private law firms, government agencies, corporations, and non-profit organizations. A paralegal performs specifically delegated substantive legal work under the supervision of an attorney who is responsible for the paralegal's work.  Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law.  Typical paralegal job functions include, among others, legal research, investigation of case facts, gathering and organizing evidence, assisting in trial preparation, interviewing witnesses, client contact, summarizing evidence and testimony, document production and review, and drafting court and other legal documents. Paralegal studies graduates may also pursue careers in law-related areas of the insurance, banking, or securities industries, businesses, nonprofit agencies, or in federal, state, or local governments. Careers as paralegals or in law-related fields are among the growing areas of employment, with projections of sustained growth in the future.  

WHY PURSUE PARALEGAL STUDIES AT UNH?

The paralegal studies program at UNH is the oldest in Connecticut, with a rich tradition of educating students to understand the principles of law and legal issues underlying their work as paralegals as well as teaching the skills necessary to perform effectively as professionals working in various legal environments.  In each paralegal program option, the curriculum is designed to provide students with basic knowledge of the legal system, law, and ethical conduct, and to develop students' ability in legal reasoning, research, and writing.  A key feature of the UNH paralegal program is its flexibility to enable each student to choose which program option best meets his or her own particular goals. 

In our technologically "smart classrooms" and computer labs, faculty and students use cutting edge technology to maximize learning, including accessing judicial, governmental, and other legal websites and online legal research databases.  All students while enrolled in a paralegal program at UNH are provided with personal Westlaw passwords for conducting online legal research anywhere via the Internet.

"Real life learning" takes place both within and outside of the classroom.  Through in class exercises and simulations, students in paralegal classes apply the theory they are learning.  Internships, either for credit in the bachelor degree program or not-for-credit as desired by students in the associate degree or paralegal certificate programs, provide substantive work experiences.

The faculty is drawn from a diverse group of lawyers who have graduated from major American law schools, including Yale, Harvard, New York University, and University of Connecticut, and who have had extensive practical experience in the subject areas which they teach.  In addition, faculty connections with the Connecticut legal community also facilitate mentoring and valuable job placement assistance for program graduates.  

WHICH PARALEGAL OPTION IS BEST FOR YOU? 

The three UNH paralegal options are designed to appeal to the needs and goals of anyone interested in learning paralegal skills.  Key considerations are summarized below.  Please contact the Legal Studies Program Director, Prof. Donna Decker Morris, at ddmorris@newhaven.edu with any further questions. 

B.S. in Legal Studies, with Concentration in Paralegal Studies

Students just graduating from high school as well as veterans or others returning to pursue their education interested in a career as a paralegal and a full college degree should choose the bachelor degree option.  Full-time students typically complete the degree program in four years, while part-time students complete the degree over a longer period of time depending on their individual circumstances. Students interested in the "college experience" and participating in the full and diverse life at the University while pursuing their academic studies usually choose to be  full-time students.  Employers are increasingly seeking to hire persons with bachelor degrees and this option provides the most opportunity for career advancement.  The bachelor degree also is required for students seeking to continue their education in graduate school.

Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies

Students who are not ready to commit to a four-year program and wish to obtain an associate's degree over the course of two years (full-time) with the goal of working as a paralegal or legal assistant upon graduation choose this option.  This program option may appeal to students who wish to help pay for continuing their education on a part-time basis towards a bachelor's degree while working as a paralegal or legal assistant. Also, this program option is a good choice for persons already in the workplace who wish to improve their occupational status to obtain a better, higher-paying job in this expanding field, but who do not have previous college credits. All courses in the associate degree program count toward a B.S. degree in Legal Studies, Paralegal Studies Concentration at UNH.

Paralegal Studies Certificate

This paralegal program option is appropriate for several categories of students.

  • Students currently enrolled at UNH and majoring in a non-paralegal program but who may also be interested in a paralegal or related career or who could benefit from a paralegal education may select the paralegal certificate program of study, similar to the manner in which students select minors.  Paralegal Certificate program election forms are available in the department office or by contacting the Legal Studies Program Director.
  • Persons already in the workplace with sufficient college credits who wish to improve their occupational status to obtain a better, higher-paying job in this expanding field may apply for admission to the Paralegal Certificate Program as a part-time student. 
  • Persons wishing to change careers or return to the workforce to pursue a paralegal career, who have degrees in other areas or at least sufficient college credits, may apply for admission to the Paralegal Certificate Program as a part-time student. 

There are many paths to a job in the paralegal world, and the three paralegal options provided by UNH are intended to give a prospective student maximum flexibility in fashioning a study program designed best to achieve the individual's specific interests and goals.  At UNH, the emphasis is on assisting students in whatever way possible to help them achieve their goals. Both the Admissions Office and the Director of the Legal Studies Program are available to discuss students' personal dreams and goals, to answer any questions about the various options, and to help students choose and individualize the paralegal option which is best for each student.

Paralegal Program Objectives

  • Provide a broad, interdisciplinary course of study that exposes students to a commonality of intellectual experiences which are the distinguishing traits of a university graduate.
  • Develop students' communication, analytical, quantitative reasoning, and writing skills.
  • Teach students to conduct legal research using standard law library materials as well as computer-assisted legal research programs to locate both primary and secondary source materials.
  • Provide students with an understanding of the American legal system, including governmental structure and the court system.
  • Teach students to understand inductive, deductive and analogical reasoning processes and to use legal reasoning in the application of legal principles to fact situations.
  • Teach students to be able to read cases with understanding and apply case law to legal problems.
  • Provide students with an understanding of attorney's rules of professional conduct and their application to paralegals.
  • Provide the foundation for ethical decision-making as legal professionals and develop values of ethical conduct and professionalism.
  • Teach students to conduct effective factual investigations, including best-practice procedures for accessing information and materials, and to interview clients and witnesses using effective oral communication skills.
  • Develop students' knowledge of the special concerns and skills involved in a legal setting, including case and time management, billing, client relations, and working with attorney supervisors.
  • Expose students to alternative methods of dispute resolution, including mediation and arbitration. 
  • Teach students to have an appreciation for different cultures and backgrounds and respect for persons different from themselves. 

UNH PARALEGAL PATHS

 

B.S. in Legal Studies,

Concentration in Paralegal Studies

Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies

Certificate in Paralegal Studies

Program Admission

Regular UNH Admission  

Regular UNH Admission

For students currently enrolled at UNH - Legal Studies Program Director. For new students - regular UNH part-time admission

Length

4 years if full-time; individualized if part-time years

2 years if full-time; individualized if part-time years

Individualized

Total Credits Required

125  credits

60 credits

18 credits in program, with minimum 60 overall credits

Required     Common Courses for Major or     Certificate

LSTD 1100   LSTD 2241  

LSTD 4502   LSTD 2201  

LSTD 3301   PSCI 1122

LSTD 2238   LSTD 3330  

PSCI 3332    LSTD 2239  

LSTD 4500   LSTD 2240 

LSTD 4501

LSTD 1100   LSTD 2241

LSTD 2201   LSTD 3330

LSTD 2238   LSTD 2239

LSTD 2240

LSTD 1100

LSTD 2238

LSTD 2240

LSTD 2241

Additional Courses Required for Major

Four of the following, or related courses as approved by the program adviser: LSTD 2226, LSTD 2244, LSTD 3310, LSTD 3326, LSTD 4430, CJST 1100, CJST 1102, CJST 2201, FORS 2215, FORS 4415, CJST 4420, BUSL 1101, ACCT 1101, ACCT 1102, ACCT 4435

Three legal studies electives

Two of the following, or other legal specialty courses, as approved by the program adviser:  LSTD 2226, LSTD 2239, LSTD 2244, LSTD 3301, LSTD 3310, LSTD 3326, LSTD 3330

Restricted Electives or Other Requirements

a) Courses satisfying the University Core curriculum requirements, including the following specified core courses: PSYC 1111, PSCI 1121, PHIL 2222, and COMM 1100 or ENGL 2230

b) Following restricted electives:

Writing course (ENGL 2220, ENGL 2225, or ENGL 2251),

PSYC 3301/MATH 2228 & PSYC 3305 sequence,

or CJST 2250-CJST 2251 sequence

 

a) Courses satisfying the University Core Curriculum requirements for associate degrees;

b) PHIL 2222

and

COMM 1100 or ENGL 2230

 

Of the 42 other prerequisite credits:

1) 18 or more credits in at least 3 liberal arts & sciences disciplines

2) general technology skills course or equivalent

3) oral communication course

Additional Courses

8 free electives

1 free elective

 

 

Possible Reasons to Enroll

Paralegal or related job, graduate school in legal studies or related disciplines

Paralegal or related job, job advancement, may continue  job while pursuing Bachelor's degree

Paralegal or related job, job advancement, change careers into paralegal field

Comments

 

 

Non-paralegal courses already earned or earned concurrently with paralegal courses are counted toward the minimum total credits requirement.