Oakland University Paralegal Program
Center for Executive and Continuing Education
School of Business Administration
332 Elliott Hall
Rochester, Michigan 48309-4401
Sponsoring Interns from the Oakland University Paralegal
About the Paralegal Program
Under the sponsorship of the School of Business Administration, Center for
Executive and Continuing Education, the Paralegal Program at Oakland
University was created to meet the growing demand for paraprofessionals in the
legal field. Initially approved by the American Bar Association in 1976, the
program consists of a carefully designed sequence of courses that lays the
foundation for an understanding of the law and develops skills in specific legal
procedures. Admission to the program is based on completion of at least 45
semester hours or 60 quarter hours of college level work and satisfactory scores
on the Personal Assessment Inventory, a group of tests selected to measure the
language skills required to perform legal tasks.
Students beginning the program are required to take ten core courses:
Introduction to the Law
Ethics and Law Practice Management
Legal Research and Writing I
Legal Research and Writing II
Litigation I and Litigation II
Computerized Assisted Legal Research.
After completing the core courses, students choose three electives from a list of
legal specialty courses. Attorneys whose practice of law concentrates in certain
areas are encouraged to request an intern who has acquired the specialized
skills developed in these courses.
Litigation III: Anatomy of a Lawsuit
Introduction to Medical Terminology and Summary of Records
Auto Accident Law
Criminal Law and Procedure
Patent, Copyright & Trademark Law
Immigration Law and Procedure
Probate Administration I and II
Estate Planning and Documents
Real Property Transactions
Bankruptcy and Collections
When students have satisfactorily completed all of the course work or are
completing their last specialty class, they may begin their internship. The
internship involves spending 80 unpaid hours under the guidance of a practicing
attorney, performing tasks that would be typically assigned to a legal assistant in
a law office, business, bank, government agency, court, or other legal setting.
The internship is intended to provide an opportunity for the student to practice
procedures and apply knowledge gained in the courses as well as learn some
How to Obtain a Student Intern
Attorneys are invited to request an intern at any time by calling the School of
Business Administration, CECE at (248) 370-4386. (Internships are scheduled on
a continuous basis throughout the year.)
For those who have never sponsored an intern, we would be pleased to have an
opportunity to discuss the program, answer questions, and determine needs. In
placing interns, every attempt is made to match the needs of the law firm with the
interests, abilities, and needs of the student. When a suitable candidate for an
internship is available, we will email a copy of the student's resume to the
prospective sponsoring attorney. After receiving the attorney's approval, we will
notify the student to make arrangements for an interview with the sponsor.
Benefits of the Internship
The School is grateful to the legal community for its support in sponsoring the
interns from the Paralegal Program. It is our belief that the internship offers an
opportunity to learn skills and acquire knowledge that would be extremely
difficult, if not impossible, to provide in the classroom. We know that students
value this opportunity for practical experience.
The sponsoring attorney benefits from the internship by realizing helpful work at
no cost to the firm. In addition, the internship provides an excellent opportunity --
without commitment -- to evaluate how a paralegal might function in a particular
office setting. Although it is understood an internship is not expected to lead to
employment, attorneys have found excellent employees as a result of the
internship experience. In order to ensure these benefits and maintain a quality
internship program, we do have certain guidelines for those providing an
Responsibilities of Sponsoring Attorneys
We ask that the sponsoring attorney meet with the intern to set up a list of
proposed tasks and a mutually agreeable time schedule for the internship.
(The 80 hours may be completed in two full weeks or any desired interval.)
Sponsors are asked to sign the Arrangement Made With Sponsor form
confirming the plans for the internship. It is expected that deviations from
the task list will almost certainly occur as the internship progresses. The
initial listing is intended to orient students to what they may be expected to
We ask that someone in the office, who is generally available, be identified
to respond to the intern's questions and provide an office orientation.
We ask that a variety of tasks be assigned -- tasks which will require the
intern to use the knowledge and skills gained in the program. These tasks
should be useful to the firm and should include at least one writing
assignment. Routine clerical and secretarial duties, while essential for the
law office, are not appropriate internship tasks, with one exception. If an
intern has not been to a particular court, he or she may be asked to do
some routine filing at such court, but the internship should not include very
many of these assignments. (For a list of tasks that interns are capable of
performing, consult the section "Typical Skills" in this handbook.)
For each task assigned, some initial explanation will need to be given. If
possible and appropriate, models of similar transactions should also be
supplied. (Students are introduced to general procedures in their classes
with a limited exposure to specialized situations.)
While feedback on each project is expected, at the conclusion of the 80
hours we ask that the sponsoring attorney meet with the intern to assess
the performance and offer any helpful advice. In addition, we would like
the sponsor to complete the Sponsor Evaluation of Internship form and
return it to our office.
It is also expected that the sponsoring attorney reimburse the intern for
expenses incurred while performing work for the office.
If interns are currently employed by their sponsors and already
functioning in some capacity as legal assistants, we encourage
sponsors to use the internship as an opportunity to introduce tasks
in a new area of law or legal procedure. Students earn credit for the
internship; therefore internship tasks should be a challenge for the
student. While employees are not expected to forgo pay during
internships, interns understand that completing internship tasks may
require them to go beyond the requirements of the normal work day.
Responsibilities of Student Interns
After acceptance by the sponsoring attorney, the intern will call to arrange
the initial meeting. At this meeting the student will complete the
Arrangements Made With Sponsor form and obtain the sponsor's
signature confirming the internship.
The intern will submit the Arrangements Made With Sponsor form to the
The intern will keep a log of time spent on the tasks.
Interns are also asked to make copies of their work products with proper
names removed or blacked out. (Particularly sensitive documents may be
excluded from this requirement, but it is important that we have some
samples of the work accomplished.)
At the conclusion of the internship, the student will provide the sponsor
with a copy of the Sponsor Evaluation of the Internship and will schedule a
meeting to discuss the evaluation.
As a final requirement, the student intern will submit to the Program
Director the internship log, the work product samples, the Student
Evaluation of the Internship and the Sponsor Evaluation of the Internship.
Responsibilities of the Program Coordinator
Prior to the internship experience, the Coordinator advises students about their
role as a paralegal intern in the law office. The Coordinator reviews the
Arrangements Made With Sponsor form to assess the suitability of the tasks.
The Coordinator keeps informed of the progress of the internship via telephone
calls to intern and attorney and/or on-site visits. The Coordinator reviews the
evaluation forms, log, and work product samples and assigns the grade for the
internship. This is typically done during the exit interview which concludes
Many attorneys want to know what specific kinds of tasks an intern can be
expected to do. The following is a list of skills students are introduced to in the
core courses of the program.
•Drafting and answering complaints, interrogatories, and requests for production
•Summarizing and abstracting transcripts, depositions and documentary
•Investigation and fact gathering.
•Data organization, control, and recovery.
•Drafting of motions, requests for admission, mediation summaries, and
•Preparing for and assisting at trial.
•Efficient use of the law library, including an understanding of the finding tools
and sources for legal research.
•Locating and interpreting applicable statutory and decision law.
•Using correct form of citation and shepardizing.
•Briefing, analogizing, and distinguishing cases.
•Organizing research into a memorandum.
•Locating samples and adapting style of similar written documents from office
files or forms of pleading and practice.
In general, paralegal interns should be assigned tasks useful to the firm. They
may not, of course, give legal advice to clients, sign legal documents, or appear
officially in court. Throughout their course work, students are encouraged to be
resourceful, and after an appropriate introduction, can be expected to handle
many initially unfamiliar tasks.
There is no one typical student profile. Of the approximately 200 students
currently enrolled in the Paralegal Program, some are young adults seeking
marketable skills to add to their college education. Others are making a career
change or starting a career after raising a family. There are students with
baccalaureate and graduate degrees and students with backgrounds in teaching,
real estate, bookkeeping, business administration, law enforcement, nursing,
sales, food service, secretarial/clerical work and library management. Both men
and women enroll in the program. An effect of this diversity is that a wide variety
of talent and work experience is brought to an internship in addition to the skills
taught in the program.
Job Referral Service
Employing legal assistants has become the logical outgrowth of an effort to make
the delivery of law services more economical for the client and more profitable
and efficient for the law firm or business. Attorneys who feel a paralegal could
make a contribution to their practice of law are invited to contact our Paralegal
Job Referral Service in the Center for Executive and Continuing Education,
School of Business (248) 370-4386. We have on file the resumes of program
graduates and students who are currently seeking either full or part-time
employment in the tri-county area. Several resumes, selected with the attorney's
needs in mind, will be sent upon request.