Paralegal Studies

College of Extended Learning
Dean: Peter Dewees

Paralegal Studies Program
SFSU Downtown Center
425 Market Street, 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA  94105
Fax: 415-405-2339

Program Director: Therese Cannon

Program Coordinator: Richard Kay


Certificate in Paralegal Studies

Program Scope

The Paralegal Studies curriculum is intended to provide a firm grounding in legal skills and in specific substantive areas of law for the undergraduate student as well as the person who is interested in becoming a paralegal. All course work is conducted at the upper division level. The population served is adult, usually employed full-time, has considerable formal education (including the baccalaureate degree, in most cases) and has accumulated more life and work experience than the typical undergraduate.


All courses in this program are taught by attorneys and/or paralegals with practical experience in their respective fields.

Career Outlook

Paralegals are employed in private and public interest law firms, corporations, banks, securities firms, government agencies, and regulatory bodies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks the paralegal occupation as one of the fastest growing in the country through the year 2005.


Admission to Program

Students are required to have a minimum of 56 units of prior college credit to be admitted to the program. Students who hold a baccalaureate degree or an academic associate degree are automatically eligible for admission to the program. Students who do not have such a degree but have at least 56 semester units of college work are eligible if their college work includes at least 18 semester units of general education with courses from at least three major disciplines. Students with at least three years of legal experience who have at least 45 semester units of college work may petition for conditional admission. Students must apply for admission by the end of the first semester in which they enroll.

Writing Skills

Paralegal courses require strong writing skills. Certificate students who do not have a bachelor's degree must pass the Junior English Proficiency Essay Test (JEPET) before completion of nine units in the program in order to satisfy the general university literacy requirement. Students who do not pass the JEPET must pass ENG 414 Elements of Writing, a writing course regularly offered through Open University and offered through CEL during summer sessions.

A certificate is awarded upon successful completion of 30 units. The 30 units required to earn the certificate consist of five required courses and fifteen units of elective courses.

Each course carries three units credit unless otherwise noted. For complete course descriptions, contact the program coordinator.

Required Courses: Foundation Courses and Basic Litigation
Introduction to Law/Civil Procedure
Investigation, Discovery, and Trial Preparation
Legal Research and Writing
Pleadings and Motions
Communications Skills and Legal Ethics

Elective Courses: Advanced and Specialized Practical Courses
Administrative Law
Advanced Legal Research and Writing
Bankruptcy: Debtors' Rights and Creditors' Remedies
Case Law Research: Print, On-line, and CD-ROM (1)
Computer Applications in Law Practice
Computer-Assisted Legal Research
Corporations Law
Criminal Law
Employment Law
Environmental Litigation and Compliance
Evidence for Paralegals
Factual Legal Research (1)
Family Law
Field Experience in Paralegal Studies
Immigration Law
Intellectual Property: Copyright, Trademarks, and Patents
Labor Law
Post-Trial Procedures (1)
Probate Procedures
Real Estate Practice
Statutory Legal Research (1)
Torts, Contracts, and Remedies
Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning
Workers' Compensation Law (2)

Students may concentrate their elective courses in one area of law practice or may select electives in a variety of areas to suit their interests.

Non-certificate Students

If students are not interested in the certificate, but want to take selected individual courses in the program, they may register for those courses, with the consent of the director, without applying for admission to the program.

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Last modified July 05, 2012 by