Southwestern College offers two paralegal programs: Paralegal Studies and Paralegal Studies: Bilingual (Spanish-English). Both programs prepare students for rewarding careers in the legal industry as paralegal professionals working under the direct supervision of lawyers in the public and private sectors. A paralegal's responsibilities can be broad and varied including preparing and translating legal documents, interviewing clients, performing legal research, investigation of facts, preparing cases for trial, organizing and managing documents. Paralegals often work with attorneys in specialized areas of law such as immigration, family law, probate, workers compensation, criminal law and civil litigation.
Paralegals are also known as Legal Assistants and are regulated by California law under the Business & Professions Code §6450. Paralegals are required to work under the supervision of an attorney, and may not give out legal advice.
A few require a certificate of achievement, some require an associate in science degree, and some require a bachelor's degree: claims examiner, compensation and benefits manager, corporate legal assistant, court clerk, customs agent, forms and procedures specialist, freelance paralegal, legal assistant, investigator (for local, state, and federal departments and agencies), legal aide, legal research assistant, legal technician, patent agent, and title examiner. This training can also provide entrance to some careers in administration of justice such a youth authority, probation, and parole officer when a candidate passes appropriate tests and gains related experience.
Department Chair Elisabeth Shapiro
Emily Lynch Morissette
(619) 421-6700 ext. 5704
Paralegal Program Goals
- Understand the basic concepts of procedural and substantive law, federal and state court systems, operations of the legal system and theories of law.
- Apply strong written and oral communication skills to the legal setting.
- Engage in critical thinking related to the law.
- Identify ethical issues and apply legal codes of professional conduct in the work place.
- Understand California’s rules and regulations for the paralegal profession.
- Locate, analyze, cite, and effectively use legal authority, including primary and secondary authority, in both traditional and computer-assisted applications, and be able to apply the law to factual situations.
- Proficiently use word processing software and be familiar with different types of computer software commonly used in law offices.
- Draft various types of legal documents used in both transactional and litigation cases.
LEGAL SPECIALTY COURSE TRANSFER CREDITS: SWCCD will evaluate applicants’ transfer credits to ensure compliance with ABA educational requirements. None of the 19.5 legal specialty credits may be transferred unless such credits were obtained at an out-of-state accredited American Bar Association approved program and approved by the Program Director of from an accredited California Community College Program. No more than 10 legal specialty units will be accepted for transfer.
Gainful Employment Disclosure