Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is the difference between a legal assistant and a paralegal?
A. There is no difference. Paralegal is simply a more progressive job title. There are no degree or certificate requirements to be employed as a paralegal in Florida at this time; however, employers prefer degreed and certified applicants over non-degreed applicants.
Q. What is the Paralegal/Legal Assisting Program?
A. The Paralegal/Legal Assistant Program prepares students to obtain employment in law offices, government agencies, banks or business corporations. It also enables persons working in the field without a degree to upgrade their skills to become a professional paralegal. SCF offers three choices for students; Two-year A.S./A.A.S. degree, or two-year A.A. degree and a one-year Advanced Technical Certificate (ATC). The ATC is available only to persons who already have a college degree and want to become a paralegal. The courses prepare the student for immediate employment as a paralegal, legal assistant or for completion of a bachelor's degree.
Q. What does a legal assistant or paralegal do?
A. Legal assistants or paralegals serve as lawyers' assistants or as administrative or technical assistants in corporations, especially banks and insurance companies. They also make up a large part of government agencies or any other work that benefits from knowledge of the law and legal analysis. Lawyers understand that well-trained legal assistants can competently and efficiently perform a substantial portion of legal work.
Q. Are the credits transferable to a four-year degree?
A. Almost all of the law classes are transferable to a four-year degree. Some of them may not be required in the bachelor's degree program you choose and so will be counted as elective credits. If the course is listed in the SCF Catalog as an A.A. course in the course description, then it is potentially transferable.
Q. Does the SCF Legal Assisting Program prepare me for the Certified Legal Assisting (CLA) exam?
A. Yes, all of the SCF legal assisting options qualify students to take the CLA national exam.
Q. Can I attend classes on a part-time basis or register for just one class?
A. Yes, we have many part-time students.
Q. May I take law classes without declaring a major in the program?
A. Yes, students interested in law courses for personal or professional enrichment are welcome. However, completing some, but not all, of the courses will not qualify or fully prepare you to successfully complete the CLA Exam.
Q. Will SCF substitute work experience for specific law course work?
A. Ordinarily, degree requirements may only be satisfied in the classroom, but credit for work experience is an integral part of the programs, and is available.
Q. Will I be able to find a job following graduation from the A.S. in Paralegal/Legal Assisting program?
A. The job placement rate for this program is very high. The demand for paralegals is very high.
Q. Are all legal assisting courses available at SCF Venice or SCF Lakewood Ranch?
A. Yes, the Legal Assisting Program may be completed at SCF Venice, though some classes will be taken by videoconference with the teacher at SCF Bradenton. Some PLA courses are offered at SCF Lakewood Ranch, but not all of them. Some commuting to SCF Bradenton is required.
Q. How can I get in contact with other legal assisting students?
A. The Legal Assisting Club sponsors a mentoring program and a very active program of student events and activities.
Q. Whom do I contact for more information about the Legal Assisting Program?
A. Contact Suzanne Bechtol at 941-752-5359. Venice area residents may call 941-408-1400, ext. 65359. Or email to firstname.lastname@example.org . We will be delighted to help you!