Answers to Frequently Asked Questions concerning the Paralegal Studies program are listed below.
What is a paralegal?
A paralegal is a person qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, government agency, or other entity, who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible. Paralegals work under the supervision of an attorney and adhere to recognized ethical standards and rules of professional responsibility.
What duties does a paralegal perform?
A properly supervised paralegal participates in many substantive and procedural aspects of legal work. Responsibilities will vary depending upon the particular area of legal practice and may include:
- interviewing clients
- drafting pleadings and other legal documents
- drafting correspondence
- conducting factual and legal research
- maintaining client files
- locating and interviewing witnesses
- assisting in discovery
What skills are required to be a good paralegal?
Excellent verbal and written communication skills are essential. Correct grammar usage, sentence structure, and proper spelling are also essential. A good paralegal is highly organized, able to work well under pressure, and has critical thinking skills.
What will the Paralegal Studies Degree allow me to do?
The education acquired by the Associate of Applied Science Degree in Paralegal Studies from Southwest allows the graduate to directly enter the workforce. The paralegal may work in areas such as litigation, real estate, banking, corporate practice, bankruptcy, probate, family law, or government agencies. In addition, the graduate can transfer credits earned in the Paralegal Studies Program to a four-year college and continue on to earn a bachelor's degree. With a bachelor's degree a graduate could choose to apply to law school.
Is there a Paralegal Studies honor society?
Yes. The Southwest Paralegal Studies Program has a chapter of Lambda Epsilon Chi (LEX), a national paralegal honor society. In order to be eligible for induction into LEX, the Paralegal Studies student must have a minimum overall grade point average of 3.2 plus a grade point average in their paralegal classes of at least 3.5 and have completed a minimum of 40 credit hours toward the Paralegal Studies Degree.
Where can I get information about employment as a paralegal?
The Career Services Office at Southwest provides information and support to students preparing for employment. A student might also access the information available from the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, the local and national paralegal associations provide information and support in this area.
Bureau of Labor Statistics - Databases, Tables & Calculators by Subject
What professional associations are available for paralegals?
There are two local associations, the Memphis Paralegal Association (MPA) and the Greater Memphis Paralegal Alliance (GMPA). These two local associations provide student memberships. There are also national paralegal associations. Two of these national associations are the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA).
Why choose the Paralegal Studies Program at Southwest?
The Paralegal Studies Program is American Bar Association approved. Additionally Southwest offers:
- programs fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
- small classes with hands-on instruction for personalized attention
- flexible class schedules with both day and night classes
- affordable tuition
- a variety of support services such as career counseling, free tutoring, financial aid, and on-site child care
Note: Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public except as permitted by law.