Professional and Continuing Education

Pawley Hall, Room 440G
456 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-3177

aba paralegal program

Contact Information

Barbara Lister-Tait, Program Director
Phone: (248) 370-4386
Fax: (248) 370-3090
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Paralegal Certificate

Applications are now being accepted for Spring 2020!

Registration opens April 1st

Classes begin May 5, 2020

Mandatory Orientation - Week of April 20th (exact date TBD), 6:30-8:30pm

To receive information and updates related to the Paralegal Program, please click here to join our e-mail list. 
The Paralegal Profession: Fast Facts

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 15% growth in employment of  paralegals and legal assistants between 2016 and 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual wage for paralegals was $50,940 in May 2018. Formally trained paralegals with strong computer and  database management skills should have the best job prospects.

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

Evening Program Overview

The one year, cohort certificate evening program (non-credit) is for individuals interested in a paralegal career.

OU'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.

Cohort Schedule

This full time program consists of 3, 14-week semesters. Classes are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm each semester.  The cohort group will follow the schedule below:

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

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

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.

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:


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 Descriptions 
14-week Courses
Ethics and Introduction to the Law
This course provides an overview of governmental organizations (including Michigan and federal court systems) and sources of law (including statutory law, common law and administrative law).

Substantive Law – Contracts
This course provides a comprehensive overview of contract law. 

Substantive Law - Torts
This course covers the basic law related to a civil wrong as it applies to personal and property damage. 

Legal Research and Writing I
This course provides knowledge of primary and secondary legal resources along with teaching the skills of legal writing. 

CALR (Computer Aided Legal Research)
Students will learn how to use electronic resources for solving advanced research problems. Students will review basic Microsoft Office skills, including Word, Excel, and Power Point. Students will also learn how to navigate various databases utilized in legal environments. 

Litigation : Case Preparation Before Trial
Detailed study of pretrial case preparation: alternate dispute resolution;  gathering and organization of  materials; legal investigation; client interviewing; and drafting a complaint, an answer, and  affirmative defenses.

This course includes one class meeting and 100 hours law office experience.  Effective resume writing and job hunting skills are also covered.


Auto Law – 7 weeks 
This course provides a basic understanding of the law as it relates to auto insurance.

Employment Law - 7 weeks
This course covers areas of the law that deal with employment relationships.  


Probate - 7 weeks
This course examines the substantive, procedural, and practical aspects of probate law under EPIC (Michigan's Estate and Protected Individuals Code). 
Estate Planning - 7 weeks
This course provides an overview of the principles related to the control and disposition of property inter vivos and after death. 
Program Expectations & Grading Policies
The paralegal certificate is awarded to students who have been admitted to the program, completed all 12 courses with a grade of 2.0 ("C") or better, and satisfied the internship requirements. The program is to be completed in one year, and students are required to take all required classes every semester.

As of Fall 2018, Oakland University has a new grading system.  All courses will be letter grades.  Oakland will be rounding GPA's based on the third digit after the decimal. Non-numerical grades will not change.  The non-numerical grades are W, I, P, S, U, R and Z. 

New Transcript Key - PACE Fall 2018

4.0 - 3.8   A
3.7- 3.4    A-
3.3 - 3.6   B+
3.0 - 3.2   B
2.7 - 2.9   B-
2.3 - 2.6   C+
2.0 - 2.2   C
1.7 - 1.9   C-
1.3 - 1.6   D+
1.0 - 1.2   D
0.0 - 0.9   F
Graduate Testimonials
"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

"This internship experience has been invaluable in my preparation for a position as a Paralegal in the legal field. I cannot adequately express how much I learned from AND enjoyed this professional experience - the specific assignments, my sponsor, and the organization and its staff were all helpful and enjoyable!" Lisa Baylis - 2017 graduate

"It is rare to embark an enterprise where hesitations and expectations are substantially surpassed by the satisfaction brought by the final outcome. That is in short, my overall impression of the program. I could not be happier, prouder and more confident. Thank you!"

Magaly A. Castillo - 2017 graduate

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.
How to

Admission Requirements
To be admitted to the program, students must:

  • Have certified transcripts sent from an accredited higher education institution, college or university directly to the paralegal program director, 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, 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.

*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.

Fall 2019 Schedule – 6th Cohort – Graduation December 16, 2019
All classes will be located at Cooley Law School – AH153

Course NameInstructorDayTimeDates

Auto Law

CRN # 90042

Allan Gordon



09/03/19 – 10/15/19

Estate Planning

CRN # 90044

Maureen Sutton



09/04/19 – 10/16/19


CRN # 90038

Barb Lister-Tait




Meets 1x

Employment Law

CRN # 90043

Judge Deb Barno



10/22/19 – 12/03/19


CRN # 90045

Maureen Sutton



10/23/19 – 12/04/19

Fall 2019 Schedule – 7th Cohort – Classes Begin September 3rd
All classes will be located at Auburn Hills University Center – Room 2

Course NameInstructorDayTimeDates


CRN # 90035

Barb Lister-Tait




Meets 1x

Introduction to Law

CRN # 90036

David Palmiere



09/03/19 – 12/03/19


CRN # 90037

Allan Gordon



09/04/19 – 12/04/19


CRN # 90039

Tom Lynch



09/05/19 – 12/12/19

*No class 11/28/19