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Program Overview

The goal of the Paralegal Studies Program is to prepare students for employment in the legal field as paralegals, and this program is offered for paralegal education. The  paralegal works under the supervision of an attorney. Responsibilities are broad and varied including understanding procedural and substantive law; applying strong written and oral communication skills; engaging in critical thinking; identifying legal ethical issues; preparing legal documents in both transactional and litigation cases; interviewing clients; locating, analyzing, citing, and effectively using legal authority; preparing for trial; and organizing and managing documentation. Paralegals often work with attorneys in specialized areas of law such as immigration, family law, personal injury, contracts, wills, trusts, and probate.

Southwestern College offers two programs, paralegal studies and paralegal studies—bilingual, both of which which provide students with a litigation background and focus on developing an awareness and sensibility to the  common legal issues of clients from various ethnic groups within the community. An understanding of international legal issues which impact San Diego due to its geographical location and other legal and business related activities are also developed.

Employment in the field tends to vary. Larger, well-established law firms commonly require a bachelor’s degree, and smaller law firms and legal agencies often require a two-year associate degree or its equivalent. Potential employees who have an advanced education level, knowledge of a frequently used foreign language, and/or an emphasis in a legal specialty will have the greatest opportunities in the job market.

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Program Awards

Associate Degree

Paralegal Studies - Associate in Science

Associate Degree

Paralegal Studies - Certificate of Achievement


Paralegal Studies: Bilingual (English/Spanish) - Associate in Science

Associate Degree

Paralegal Studies: Bilingual (English/Spanish) - Certificate of Achievement


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Points of Interest

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Class Schedule Academic Calendar Important Dates

Program Contacts

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Accounting & Business Administration


Mink Stavenga Dean
Elisabeth Shapiro Department Chair