The Paralegal Studies Certificate Program
The Paralegal Studies Certificate Program offered by Cumberland School of Law has been training individuals to become paralegals since 1978.
- Approved by the American Bar Association, the 22-semester credit hour program can be completed in a little over one year.
- Experienced, dedicated faculty and staff understand the needs of working professionals and work hard to provide the knowledge and skills required of today's paralegal.
- Classes are conveniently scheduled in the evenings, online or a combination of both formats.
- Financial aid is available for those who qualify.
- Small class sizes are conducive to learning and relationship-building.
The program is committed to producing well educated, capable, and ethically aware graduates who, although they may not provide legal services to the public except as permitted by law, are prepared for careers as paralegals to attorneys in private, public, and corporate settings. Paralegals are professionals trained both in the substance of the law and in legal procedure who use that knowledge and those skills to provide a broad range of legal services under the supervision and direction of an attorney. Specifically, the program goals are:
- To train students in a practical way for careers as paralegals to attorneys.
- To promote a basic understanding of legal concepts and terms on subjects that are important to those engaged in general practice or in specialized areas of law and to equip students with legal writing and research skills that will enable graduates to perform as skilled members of a legal team.
- To provide a general understanding of the principles of ethical and professional responsibility as these relate to lawyers and paralegals.
- To provide a broad background in general education for development of educated, socially, morally, and ethically aware individuals.
- To constantly upgrade and adjust the program to fulfill the needs of the community by seeking input from local attorneys, paralegals, and students.
Applicants for the Paralegal Studies Certificate Program must meet the following basic qualifications:
- Hold a bachelor’s degree or a transferable associate’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.
- Complete the online application and all that is entailed in the application instructions by the required deadlines.
The Admission Committee reviews the entire application packet and bases its decision on the applicant’s potential for academic success and success as a paralegal. Strong applicants will have a minimum cumulative 3.0 grade point average on all previous college-level course work, a well-written essay, a positive and detailed letter of recommendation from a supervisor or former instructor, and a complete resume that demonstrates a solid work history and a professional demeanor in the director interview.
The Paralegal Studies Certificate Program admits students for the Fall and Spring terms. The application for admission to the Paralegal Studies Certificate Program must be completed online, and must include the following:
- Completed online application
- Academic/Supervisor Letter(s) of Recommendation
- Current Résumé
- Personal essay
- Official transcripts from each institution attended
- Interview with the Director of Paralegal Studies (following submission of the completed application)
Applicants are responsible for requesting/ordering an official transcript from each college previously attended. Transcripts are not requested by Samford University. Transcripts must be mailed directly from your former institution's records office to the Office of Paralegal Studies, Samford University, Cumberland School of Law, 800 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham, Alabama, 35229, Attention: Paralegal.
Following your submission of the application and receipt of all materials, the Office of Paralegal Studies will contact you to schedule an interview with the director.
Information for International Students
Samford University welcomes applications from international students. Please make note of the following if you are applying from outside the United States:
All transcripts from institutions outside the United States must be evaluated by World Educational Services (WES) or AACRAO. Those evaluations must then be sent to our office at the above address by the evaluating agency. Transcripts must indicate the successful completion of a bachelor's degree-equivalent program.
Students from countries in which English is not the primary language and who have not earned a bachelor's degree-equivalent from an English-language institution must satisfy one of the following requirements for English language proficiency:
- iBT TOEFL: Total score of 90, minimum 20 on each sub-sector
- IELTS: 7.0, minimum 6.0 on each sub-score
Important Dates and Deadlines
- November 17, 2017 - “Priority” Application Deadline for Spring 2018 Admission (Admission fee is waived for applications submitted by this date.)
- December 8, 2017 - Final Application Deadline for Spring 2018 Admission
- December 22, 2017 - Admission Notifications for Spring 2018 Admission
- July 6, 2018 - "Priority" Application Deadline for Fall 2018 Admission (Admission fee is waived for applications submitted by this date.)
- July 20, 2018 - Final Application Deadline for Fall 2018 Admission
- August 3, 2018 - Admission Notifications for Fall 2018 Admission
Applications will not be reviewed for decision until after the applicable deadline set forth above. Prior to the applicable term deadline, you will be periodically notified via email of items missing from your application file (personal essay, résumé, letters of recommendation, official college transcript(s)). Receipt of your completed application file also will be acknowledged via email.
The Admission Committee reviews applications immediately following the deadline and applicants will be notified by mail by the applicable notification date set forth above.
Schedules and Course Information
Important Financial Information
- The current tuition per credit hour is $350. The program is 22 semester credit hours, consisting of six 3 credit required courses, plus an additional 4 semester credits in elective courses.
- A one-time fee of $95 will attach to registration in Legal Research and Writing (PARA 123) which will allow you access to Westlaw for the duration of the program.
- This is an undergraduate level program. Please make note of that when you complete your FAFSA, should you choose to apply for financial aid.
- The number of undergraduate hours you have earned will determine the amount of aid for which you qualify. For all financial-aid related questions, please contact Dougles Johnson in the Office of Financial Aid at 205-726-2905 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For payment due dates and other payment-related questions, please visit the Financial Services website or call that office at 205-726-2816.
- To begin your Free Application for Federal Student Aid, visit www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Salary and Employment Information
The Paralegal Studies Certificate Program prepares students for rewarding careers as paralegals or legal assistants to attorneys in private, public and corporate settings. Graduates may work in a variety of legal settings, including traditional law firms, financial institutions, hospital and corporate legal departments and government and administrative agencies. Many program graduates ultimately apply to law school and leverage the substantive law and practical skills learned in the paralegal studies program for an early advantage in the first year of law school.
From the Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Paralegals and Legal Assistants
- Paralegal Employment by Geographic Region
- Occupational Outlook Handbook Summary (pdf)
- Summary of Birmingham Area Paralegal Salaries (pdf)
Other Useful Links about the Paralegal Profession
- National Association of Legal Assistants
- Typical Paralegal Duties from the National Association of Legal Assistants
- Paralegal Career Information from the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Paralegals
- NFPA explanation of certified vs. certificated vs. licensed
- Comparison Chart of National Level Certification Exams (from NFPA)
Job Placement Methodology
The placement rate reflects the percentage of graduates whom we were able to reach currently choosing to work as legal professionals for fiscal year 2016.
- Eleven of the sixteen program completers are currently working in the legal profession.
- Three program completes are employed outside of the legal field.
- One program completer is a current student in a graduate program.
- One program completer is currently not employed.