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FAQs Paralegal Program

Frequently Asked Questions - Paralegal

Check frequently asked questions. If you don't find the answers you need, please don't hesitate to contact the Paralegal Program Manager.



Q. What is the difference between a Legal Assistant and a Paralegal?

A. There is no difference. Legal Assistant 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 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. or A.A. Degree Programs and a one year Advanced Technical Certificate (ATC). The ATC program 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 Bachelors Degree.

Q. What does a Legal Assistant or Paralegal do?
A. Legal Assistants or paralegals serve as lawyer's assistants, 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 now realize 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 program you choose and so will be counted as elective credits. If the course is listed in the SCF catalog as an AA 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 programs qualify students to take the CLA national exam. For more information on the NALA CLA/CP examination, go to www.NALA.org.

Q. Does the SCF Legal Assisting Program qualify me to become a Florida Registered Paralegal (FRP)?
A. Maybe. SCF is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS); however, Chapter 20 of the Florida Rules of Professional Responsibility, which is the governing law on becoming an FRP requires four years of work experience in addition to holding an associate's degree from an accredited college. Also, if you are a NALA Certified Legal Assistant, you may also qualify for FRP status. Please check Chapter 20 of the Florida Rules of Professional Responsibility to see how to qualify. The Florida Bar at www.floridabar.org is where you can find more information on the requirements of the Florida Retgistered Paralegal program.

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 or for FRP status.

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 in limited cases.

Q. Will I be able to find a job following graduation from the Legal Assisting, A.S. degree 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 on the Venice Campus or Lakewood Ranch?
A. Yes, the Legal Assisting Program may be completed on the SCF Venice Campus, though some courses will be taken by video conference with the instructor in SCF Bradenton. Some PLA courses are offered at SCF Lakewood Ranch, but not all of them, so some commuting to Bradenton is required. In addition, SCF's paralegal program offers some courses online.

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?Frequently Asked Questions - Paralegal
A. Contact Suzanne Bechtol at (941) 752-5359. Venice area residents may call (941) 408-1400 and ask for the Bradenton campus, extension 65359. Or you may send an email at paralegal@scf.edu . We will be delighted to help you!

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