Welcome to SIU Carbondale's Paralegal Studies program. A bachelor of science degree in an ABA-approved paralegal program makes you more competitive when pursuing employment as a professional paralegal. The program is monitored by the Paralegal Studies Advisory Committee, comprised of representatives from the College of Liberal Arts, local attorneys, community representatives, and practicing paralegals. With our degree, you can practice as a professional paralegal with a law office, corporation, administrative agency, and more.
Because paralegals often go on to become lawyers, our program offers a pre-law specialization, a great stepping stone for those who wish to go on to Law School, in addition to our general paralegal curriculum. Our graduates who go on to law school consistently volunteer back to us that they have an edge over the other law students who came to law school from other typical pre-law majors.
Paralegal Studies is the only SIU undergraduate program where every teacher is a licensed attorney. Among other requirements, Paralegal students must take Introduction to Law, two Legal Writing and Research classes, Civil Procedure, Trusts and Estates, Business Entities, Family Law, Torts, Bankruptcy and Creditors’ Rights, and Technologies in the Law. Criminal law, criminal procedure, contracts, and property law are also the popular courses offered to our paralegal students.
Paralegal Studies Program Objectives
The program's goals and objectives reflect the Core Competencies for Paralegal Programs as stated by the American Association for Paralegal Education. Core competencies include essential knowledge of substantive and procedural law as well as evidence of practical legal skills developed from programmatic research, writing, and oral communication. Together these competencies demonstrate outstanding organizational, interpersonal, critical thinking, and analytical thinking skills. Also, program faculty and staff model and teach students to exemplify professionialism and the high ethical standards of the legal profession.
WHAT KINDS OF TASKS DO PARALEGALS PERFORM?
The work that paralegals do varies with the settings and specialty areas in which they work. Some of the types of the tasks which paralegals perform include:
- Conducting factual research involving documents and internet resources
- Performing legal research using library and online resources
- Reviewing and drafting legal documents & correspondences
- Analyzing and organizing records and documents
- Assisting with business and real estate transactions
- Maintaining corporate records and minute books
- Attending to governmental and agency filings
- Interviewing witnesses and clients
- Assisting with preparation of cases and with appearances in court
WHAT KIND OF SKILLS DOES A PARALEGAL NEED?
Ideally, a paralegal displays a mix of analytical, administrative, managerial, research, and communicative skills. These include the ability to organize complex tasks and to independently solve problems, pay attention to details, manage time effectively, research factual and legal issues, work efficiently as a part of a team, and communicate efficiently in speech and writing. In addition, the legal environment requires a proficiency in computer and internet skills.
Paralegals typically use word processors, spread sheet programs, data bases, and online resources, but also must learn and adapt to new and specialized software programs unique to their specialty and places of employment. Some paralegals function as coordinators who manage other paralegals. A paralegal must also have an ability to regularly learn about new developments in the law and new technologies as they are integrated into the legal profession.