WHAT IS A PARALEGAL OR LEGAL ASSISTANT?
The terms paralegal and legal assistant are used interchangeably to designate a person who performs substantive
legal work under the direct supervision of an attorney. Legal assistants must have a knowledge and
understanding of legal concepts.
Paralegals perform a wide variety of tasks including, conducting interviews with clients and witnesses,
gathering facts, researching the law, managing databases, reviewing, analyzing and assembling records and
documents, drafting legal pleadings and discovery items such as interrogatories and document requests, and
maintaining conflicts of interest systems. Experienced legal assistants often accompany counsel during trial and
help with documents, witness preparation, and investigative work.
For more information on the paralegal profession and the type of work paralegals perform, visit the National
Federation of Paralegal Associations or the National Association of Legal Assistants on the Internet.
WHY CHOOSE MIRAMAR FOR YOUR PARALEGAL EDUCATION?
In choosing a paralegal program, there are many variables to consider. We believe it is particularly important to
consider the program's reputation, accreditation, services provided by the program, including career counseling
and job placement, the program's ties to the legal community, and the curriculum. Miramar’s Legal Assistant
Program enjoys an excellent reputation and meaningful ties to the legal community. This enables us to place our
graduates in positions with law firms, corporations, and governmental agencies with ease.
In addition, Miramar’s Legal Assistant Program is approved by the American Bar Association, a coveted
distinction awarded to less that 15% of the paralegal programs nationwide. The college is accredited by the
Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and the program is a member of the American Association for
Paralegal Education. Miramar’s Legal Assistant Program offers a curriculum that is challenging, practical, and
interesting. Paralegal instructors are experienced attorneys and paralegals who work in the field(s) that they
teach, thus providing students with up-to-date information.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO COMPLETE THE PROGRAM?
It takes a total of 30 units (generally 10 classes) to complete the paralegal requirements under the certificate and
degree program. An additional 30 units of general education units are required to complete the Legal Assistant
Degree. Depending on how many classes and units you take in a semester will depend on your time in the
program. Typically, the program is set up to be completed within 2 years.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE DEGREE AND CERTIFICATE OPTION?
Unless students entering the program are already in possession of a degree, the certificate option is not available
to them. Miramar College requires its students without degrees to pursue the Associate Degree in Legal
Assistant. As stated; the certificate option is only available to students who enroll into the program with a
bachelor or associates degree.
HOW MUCH AM I EXPECTED TO PAY IN TUITION & BOOKS?
Classes are currently $20 a unit and books average about $120 per class. Other ABA programs offer tuitions
well over $6,000 or more. Miramar’s Legal Assistant Program is undoubtedly the best program in town.
WHAT KINDS OF OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE?
Paralegals–or legal assistants–are in great demand, as they can perform many of the duties that attorneys have
traditionally accomplished. Paralegals free attorneys for other duties, and are cost-effective for law firms and
From the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that ―Employment of
paralegals is expected to grow much faster than average [at least a 36% increase] — ranking among the fastest
growing occupations in the economy through the year 2006 — as law firms and other employers with legal staff
increasingly hire paralegals to lower the cost, and increase the availability and efficiency of legal services.‖
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this translates into an estimated 77,000 new jobs.
WHO USES THE SERVICES OF A PARALEGAL?
Paralegals are employed in private law firms, banks, corporations, insurance agencies, legal clinics, courts,
government agencies, accounting and engineering firms, title companies, construction companies, and legal aid
offices—in fact, almost everywhere law-related work is performed. Paralegals either work with attorneys who
assume professional responsibility for the final work product, or work in areas where "lay" individuals are
explicitly authorized by statute or regulation to assume certain law-related responsibilities.
Paralegals who work in the private sector are usually employed by law firms and corporations and often
specialize in areas of law such as litigation, probate, real estate, corporate, taxation, domestic relations, or
employee benefits. Paralegals who work in the public sector are often employed by non-profit public law firms,
state or local governmental agencies in areas such as welfare, family law, health care, landlord/tenant, disability
benefits, unemployment compensation, or social security.
WHAT SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE TO ASSIST ME WITH FINDING A JOB?
Miramar’s Career Development Office will spend time both in group and individual sessions with students
helping them tailor the best resume and cover letter possible for their job search.
IN ADDITION, Our Outreach Program is designed to help you find a job anywhere in the country. Our Career
Development Coordinators, utilizing our contacts with graduates and law firms, will help you plan and conduct
your search. We now have graduates working all over San Diego County.
ARE INTERNSHIPS AVAILABLE?
Internship opportunities are as varied as job opportunities, in law firms, government agencies, and businesses.
Our Career Development Coordinators will work with you to help you find the internship that is most
interesting to you and offers the best opportunity to enhance your resume for your job search.
WHAT COURSES ARE INCLUDED IN MIRAMAR’S PROGRAM?
All classes are designed to teach the practical aspects of what paralegals actually do in their chosen specialty.
For example, in the Litigation class we cover issues relevant to the profession, an overview of American Law,
court systems, and litigation. The course contains information on how to do interviews (interrogations), legal
writing, research, how to use citations and prepare the documents required. Since the Internet has become a
major resource to the profession, dozens of sites are provided for references and research projects both in the
course and for future use in the profession.
Here is a list of some of the classes offered in the program:
Required Legal Classes Legal Specialty Electives
Legal Procedures Bankruptcy Family Law
Legal Research Corporations Federal Court Practices & Procedures
Legal Communication Law Office Management Immigration
Litigation I - Procedures Criminal Procedures Elder Law
Litigation II - Torts Estates, Trust % Wills
HOW MUCH CAN I EXPECT TO EARN?
Paralegal salaries vary. Salaries depend on the education and experience the paralegal brings to the job, the type
of employer, and the geographic location of the job. Generally, paralegals working for large law firms in
metropolitan areas earn more than paralegals working for smaller firms or in less populated areas.
The Department of Labor has information on average annual pay. And by state and industry.
Towers Perrin, a global benefits and management consulting firm, also offers information about compensation
in Fortune 500 companies.
NFPA prepares a salary survey that provides information on salaries, benefits, billing rates, overtime pay, raises
and much more. The 2006 Compensation and Benefits Study Report is available for purchase, and the
Executive Summary is available here now.
FOR ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS
PLEASE CONTACT THE PROGRAM DIRECTOR
(Darrel Harrison) at Dharriso@sdccd.edu