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440E Pawley Hall
Oakland University
Rochester, MI 48309-4401
(248) 370-4386
Fax: (248) 370-3090

Paralegal Certificate

Paralegal Certificate Program - ABA Approved

Winter Registration Opens Mid-October

Exciting News from Oakland University
Strategic Programs will be offering an Accelerated Evening Paralegal Program!

See Below for more details
The Paralegal Profession: Fast Facts

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts an 17% growth in employment of paralegals and legal assistants between 2012 and 2022 an increase of 46,200 jobs.

The growth of prepaid legal plans also should contribute to the demand for legal services. In an effort to reduce costs and increase efficiency, businesses are hiring paralegals to perform tasks once done by lawyers.  These organizations include but are not limited to:
  • private law firms (largest organization to hire paralegals)
  • corporate legal departments
  • insurance companies
  • real estate and title insurance firms
  • banks
NALA has a useful  guide to typical paralegal duties by specialty. To view current paralegal employment data, take a look at the NALA 2010 National Utilization and Compensation Survey Report.

* Please be advised paralegals may not offer legal services or advice directly to the public, except as permitted by law.  

 "One of the strengths of the Paralegal Program at Oakland University is the extremely knowledgeable faculty whose stories of real life experiences really convey a feel for the real world of law. The OU program is also very compact and easily managed for a student with many other responsibilities."
Maria Dahl - 2016 graduate
"The staff is very passionate about their professions and it shows in how they teach.  The classes are very applicable."
Danielle Mitchell- 2015 graduate

New ABA approved Accelerated One Year Evening Paralegal Program begins January - December 2016

Includes 100 hour Internship and Job Placement

New Location change - Orientation held November 19, 2015 from 6:30-8:30 at the Oakland Center, lower level across from the Bookstore, Lake Huron Room


Registration to reserve your seat will be open on October 1, 2015. 

Evening Program Overview

OU’s Professional and Continuing Education (PACE) will offer a one year, cohort certificate evening program (non-credit) for individuals interested in a paralegal career.   According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 6,110 paralegals employed in Michigan during 2011. There was a statewide average of $50,800 with those in the top ten percent earning $72,520, which was $21,720 more. The majority of paralegals were employed in Detroit, Warren, and Livonia while the highest paid were employed in Flint. Those in the 90th percentile in the Flint area were noted to earn significantly more at $105,500, which was nearly $30,000 more than the state’s overall average.

Approximately 70% of paralegals work in private law firms. The remainder work primarily as in-house legal staff for corporations or for government agencies.

This full time program which begins in the January of 2016, consists of three 14 week semesters- 9 courses; classes run 6:30-9:30 pm.   The co-hort group will follow this schedule.

Winter Semester 1 Ethics and Introduction to Law; Contracts; Torts

Spring Semester 2 Legal Research and Writing; Litigation; CALR- Computerized Legal Research (on-line)

Fall Semester 3 – Special Topics; Special Topics; Internship – 100 hours (may be completed at your current work place.)  Special topics consists of probate, elder law, auto law and employment law.

Admission Requirements
  • Satisfactory completion of 45 semester hours or 60 quarter hours.  A four year degree is highly recommended.  Student will fill out an application and have certified transcript sent to
  • Submit a one page, doubled space, computer created autobiographical writing sample.  This should be representative of the applicant’s best writing skills.  A resume will not meet this requirement.
  • Students must complete the Personal Writing Inventory (PWI).  (Applicants who have earned a baccalaureate degree with an overall "B" average (3.0) are exempt.) Assessment will be given via email. Contact the program coordinator for specific details.

Semester Start/End Dates
(approximate dates)
  • The winter 2016 semester begins January 5 – April 28, 2016.
  • The spring 2016 semester begins May 5, 2016 and ends July 26, 2016.
  • The fall 2016 semester begins September 3- December 15, 2016. 


Paralegal courses will be offered at 3 locations:

  • Auburn Hills University Center at 3350 Auburn Road, Auburn Hills, MI.
  • Thomas M. Cooley Law School at 2630 Featherstone, Auburn Hills, MI.
  • Oakland University,  2200 North Squirrel Road, Rochester, MI.

Program Tuition

Tuition for the one year Certificate in Paralegal Studies is $5,390.00.   Books and materials are a separate cost.

Tuition Payment Considerations

While non-credit professional certificate programs do not qualify for federal financial aid, prospective students should consider the following for tuition payment:

  • Enroll in our interest free payment plan
  • Apply for private education loans through Sallie Mae
  • Visit

The primary goal of the Paralegal Program at Oakland University is to introduce students to the study of law with emphasis on real-world applications and legal procedures. Classes are taught by attorneys, judges and qualified professionals who understand the role of the paralegal in modern legal practice. 

Course Competency Skills
After completion of the paralegal program, each graduate will be able to demonstrate the following skills per the American Association of Paralegal Educators:
  • Critical Thinking Skills
  • Organizational Skills
  • General Communication Skills
  • Legal Research Skills
  • Legal Writing Skills
  • Computer Skills
  • Interviewing and investigating skills
  • Ethical obligations
  • Law Office management Skills

Course Descriptions and Syllabi
Oakland university's new, accelerated Paralegal Program consists of 9 courses: Ethics and Introduction to Law, Substantive Law - Contracts, Substantive Law - Torts, Litigation, Legal Research and Writing, and Computerized Assisted Legal Research and Basic Office Skills. The last semester will consist of a 100-hour internship and 4-7 weeks elective courses covering Auto Law, Employment Law, Probate, Estate Planning and Elder Law. Students who will be in a cohort group are required to take 3 courses every semester, for 3 semesters.

Ethics and Introduction to the Law
Overview of governmental organization (including Michigan and federal court  systems) and sources of law (including statutory law, common law and  administrative law). Includes an introduction to various specific  substantive law and procedural law topics and some basic legal vocabulary.  Students will learn and understand professional responsibility in the field  of law for paralegals.

Substantive Law – Contracts
This course provides a comprehensive view of those major areas of contract  law likely to be encountered by the paralegal; the formation, modification,  assignment, interpretation, enforcement and breach of contracts; and  U.C.C./-Sales. The remedies for breach of contract and discharge of  contract are discussed. Students read and brief cases. Syllabus

Substantive Law - Torts
This course covers the basic law relating to the civil wrong as applied to  personal and property damage. Topics studied include intentional torts,  negligence and defenses to negligence, strict liability, products l iability, nuisance, liability of owners and occupiers of land, defamation,  invasion of privacy, fraud, interference with contractual relations and  torts in the family. Includes discussion of property law.

Legal Research and Writing I
Provides knowledge of primary and secondary legal resources: statutes,  annotated law reports, statutory indexes, court reports, court rules,  digests, treatises, legal encyclopedias, the *Index to legal Periodical,  Words and Phrases, Shepard’s Citations,* restatements and related law  finders. Students prepare a legal memorandum, emphasizing analysis of a  fact situation, organization and use of plain English. Extensive use of the  law library is involved. Assignment deadline is post-term

CALR (Computer Aided Legal Research)
Paralegals are increasingly called upon to do research that goes beyond  traditional law library resources and into more varied areas of law than  ever before. Learn how to use electronic resources for solving advanced  research problems in such areas as business; bankruptcy; patent, trademark,  and copyright law; medical research; employment/labor law; wills and  estates; government publication/legislative history; environmental law; and  criminal law. Students will review basic office skills including word,  excel and power point.

Litigation : Case Preparation Before Trial
Detailed study of pretrial case preparation: alternate dispute resolution;  review of court structure; causes of action; gathering and organization of  materials; legal investigation; client interviewing; complaint, answer and  affirmative defenses; and introduction to motions. A continuation of  Litigation I emphasizing motions, discovery and investigation,  interrogatories, depositions, mediation, expert witnesses and preparation
for trial.

An orientation to the requirements of the internship are discussed. This  course includes one class meeting and 100 hours law office experience.  Effective resume writing and job hunting skills are also coverer.


Auto Law – 7 weeks 
Provides a basic understanding of no-fault concepts, auto insurance, and  terminology. Students learn how to prepare an auto accident case:  identification of who can be sued; what benefits and damages are  collectible; first and third party cases; case work-up; medical and  settlement statements; and duties at trial.

Employment Law - 7 weeks
Course covers areas of the law that deal with the employment relationship  (hiring; wages, hours, and benefits; working conditions; termination) and  includes discrimination and other matters addressed by legislation.


Probate, Estate Planning and Elder Law
An examination of substantive, procedural and practical aspects of probate  practice under EPIC (Michigan's Estate and Protected Individuals Code).  The course focuses on petitions to commence Informal, Formal and Supervised  probate proceedings, including preparation of inventory and accountings,  the claims process, sale and distribution of assets and closing of the  estate.

Estate Planning
Overview of principles relating to the control and disposition of property  inter vivos and after death. Includes discussion of wills, intestate  succession, trusts, future interests, disability planning and living wills.  Fundamental income, gift, estate and inheritance tax and probate  considerations are introduced as part of the estate planning process.  Students draft several representative documents.

Elder Law
Students will be introduced to topics in the law affecting older persons s uch as special needs planning, protective orders, conservatorships and  elder abuse.

Program Calendar
The one-year cohort program begins every winter, January - December. Evening and Saturday courses are offered in three, 14-week terms beginning in January, May and September. The ABA certificate will be earned in December of every year.

ABA Approved
Oakland University's Paralegal Program is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) through its Standing Committee on Legal Assistants. This committee is charged with fostering excellence in paralegal educational programs by requiring adherence to a defined set of guidelines. ABA guidelines focus on admission standards, student services, educational programming, faculty, library and administrative procedures. One of the first established in Michigan, Oakland University's Paralegal Program has maintained the ABA endorsement since its initial recognition in 1976.

A flexible 100-hour internship in a legal setting concludes the Paralegal Program. Internships are designed to give students exposure to the real world of legal practice. Students already employed in a legal setting can use the internship to explore new areas of law or legal procedure. Ongoing internship opportunities are available with the following companies:
  • General Motors at the Renaissance Center
  • Oakland County Circuit Courthouse
  • Michael Morse, P.C.

Professional Development
Many working professionals choose to take paralegal courses for individual professional development, and to update and increase their own knowledge base, employment skills, and overall marketability. Legal, finance, or business professionals may benefit from taking paralegal courses for professional development without applying to the paralegal certificate course plan. Please email to discuss your options. 

Grading Policy

The basic undergraduate grading system at Oakland University is a 32-point system of numerical grades, with passing grades ranging from 1.0 through 4.0, by tenths, and a no credit grade of 0.0. Non-numerical grades are W, I, P, S, U, R and Z. All courses are graded numerically unless otherwise noted.

3.6 to 4.0 = A
3.0 to 3.5 = B
2.0 to 2.9 = C
1.0 to 1.9 = D
0.0 = No credit/CEU
Z = Audit
I = Incomplete
W = Withdrew
P = Progress
S = Satisfactory
U = Unsatisfactory

Graduate's Testimonial
"... I would like to take the opportunity to thank the university, and your department, for this area of study. It is a wonderful program in which I learned and continue to learn. The big surprise was the degree of difficulty. I assumed it was going to be easy with a minimum amount of work. I could not have been more wrong, of which I am grateful. In addition to completing the courses, my reasoning and writing skills have certainly improved, which may be the greatest assets I can take to a prospective employer. I will continue to take courses after receiving my certificate as I am assured that the program is of the highest quality. Thank you." 

Attendance Policy
Attendance is a factor in awarding CEUs. Students are allowed a maximum of two absences from the 14-week course. Extenuating circumstances may be discussed with individual instructors.

Course Evaluation
At the conclusion of each course instructors will ask students to complete a course evaluation. To insure confidentiality, evaluations will be collected by a student in the class and sealed. The student or the instructor then mails or delivers the envelope to PACE. Evaluations are available on our website for those that would like complete anonymity.

Completing the Program
The paralegal certificate is awarded to students who have been admitted to the program, completed all 9 courses with a grade of 2.5 or better in each course, and satisfied the internship requirements. The program is to be completed in one year and students are required to take 3 classes every semester.
How to

Admission Requirements
To earn the paralegal certificate, students must be admitted to the program. To be admitted, students must:

  • Have certified transcripts sent from an accredited higher education institution, college or university showing satisfactory completion of a minimum of 45 semester hours or 60 quarter hours. 
    • Eighteen of those hours must represent a broad general education. 
      • Examples of courses considered general education include, but are not limited to: social and behavioral science, English composition and literature, and  foreign language.
      • Examples of courses not considered general education include, but are not limited to, physical education, performing arts, and accounting.
  • Submit a one-page, double spaced, computer created autobiographical writing sample. This should be representative of the applicant's best writing skills. A resume will not meet this requirement.
  • Students must complete the Personal Writing Inventory (PWI).  (Applicants who have earned a baccalaureate degree with an overall "B" average (3.0) are exempt.) Assessment will be given via email. Contact the program coordinator for specific details.

Applicants Without Requisite College Credits

Under the American Bar Association terms for approval of legal assistant programs, admission of those students without the requisite college credits is limited to 10% of the total admitted. This total is not established until after the PWI when all materials submitted by candidates for admission have been reviewed.  Applicants may be considered for admission to the program if their work experience in a legal setting has provided appropriate background. Applicants who are not accepted for a particular term may apply in a later term by writing to the program director requesting reconsideration.

Applicants should:
  • Describe this experience in a letter to the program director 
  • Submit a letter from their employer(s) attesting to this experience and recommending the applicant for admission to the program.
  • Legal secretaries and individuals with working experience in law offices, corporate law departments, and other law related positions would be considered primarily under this option.

Applicants to the OU Paralegal Program

Students wishing to apply to the OU Paralegal Program may register on a trial basis for one semester (but no more than 3 courses in that time) before being admitted to the program. By the end of the student's second semester, all admission application requirements must be submitted in order to remain in the certificate program.

Individual Courses 

Individual courses are open on a space-available basis to persons not admitted to the program as long as prerequisites are observed. Some legal or business professionals may be interested in taking paralegal program courses for professional development or to invigorate their professional legal skills. Courses identified as having prerequisites presume students have the advanced knowledge necessary to understand the material covered in that course. Admission requirements must be met in order to register for more than 5 additional courses. Once admission requirements are met, such courses will count toward the Program Certificate.

An audit option is available for those students who are already working in a legal setting. It offers the opportunity to broaden knowledge or expand into another area of law without the pressure of assignments and examinations. Regular attendance is the only requirement, and there is no cost difference. Audited courses do not apply to the requirements for the Program Certificate, and no grades or CEUs will be given for students who audit courses. 

Winter 2016 Schedule
Course NameInstructorLocationDayCourse TimeCourse Dates & Special Notes
Introduction to Law and EthicsDavid Palmiere


Room 1

Tuesday6:30 - 9:30 pm1/5/2016 - 4/5/2016
Substantive Law: TortsJudge Mester; Thomas LynchCooley Law School AHWednesday6:30 - 9:30 pm1/6/2016 - 4/6/2016
Substantive Law: ContractsAllan Gordon


Room 1

Thursday6:30 - 9:30 pm1/7/2016 - 4/7/2016


*Oakland University reserves the right to cancel courses due to low enrollment.  To allow maximum enrollment, you will be notified of course cancellation 24 hours before the course start date via your home Email or phone on record.

Benefits of the Internship
PACE 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 internship.

How to Obtain a Student Intern  

Attorneys are invited to request an intern at any time by calling the PACE 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.

Typical Skills of a Paralegal
  • ·Drafting and answering complaints, interrogatories, and requests for production of documents.
  • ·Summarizing and abstracting transcripts, depositions and documentary evidence.
  • ·Investigation and fact gathering.
  • ·Data organization, control, and recovery.
  • ·Drafting of motions, requests for admission, mediation summaries, and judgments.
  • ·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.

Job Referral Service

The Paralegal Program maintains an ongoing, customized job referral service for graduates and students. 

PACE cannot make any guarantee of job placement to graduates. However, firms and agencies seeking qualified legal assistants are contacting the College. To respond to these requests, we maintain files of graduates and students who are seeking employment. Those who would like their resume sent to prospective employers, please email your resume to Students must have completed all the core courses to be eligible for the service. Program graduates will be considered first in responding to request for resumes.

Occasionally, attorneys express interest in hiring a student who is still taking program courses, usually at close to minimum wages, but in situations which provide for learning on the job. From time to time, some part-time positions are also available. These opportunities, in conjunction with program courses, can provide useful experience. Students who would like to be considered for such opportunities should prepare a resume and discuss their plans with the program director.

Hire a Graduate

Employing paralegals 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 Linda Wallace, Program Coordinator, at (248) 370-4386 or We have on file the resumes of programs graduates and students who are currently seeking either full or part-time employment. Several resumes, selected with the the attorney's needs in mind, will be sent upon request.

Before contacting us it is important to prepare a brief job description:

  • Type of position: full-time, part-time, temporary or contract
  • Practice area(s)
  • Primary duties and responsibilities
  • Experience required
  • Level of education (student, program graduate, bachelor's degree)
  • Other non-legal specific skills needed

Employment Opportunities

October 20, 2015
The Seva Law Firm

Networking is the best tool anyone can have to help manage their career, and we encourage our students to attend events, meetings, and functions of professional organizations, and to keep in touch with classmates and business associates. Stay connected with us and other members of the program by liking our page on Facebook.