Westchester Community College Paralegal
Paralegal: General Questions
What are paralegals or legal assistants?
Paralegals or legal assistants are people who have special knowledge of
legal concepts and procedures qualified to perform work formerly performed
only by lawyers. The specialization is acquired generally by way of advanced
education or work experience.
What types of work do paralegals perform?
The answer here varies greatly depending on the paralegal's education,
experience, and size of the law firm for which the paralegal works.
Paralegals must work under the supervision of an attorney. Under that
supervision, the paralegal may perform interviews of clients, conduct legal
research and investigation, perform closings, manage cases, and assist the
attorney at trial. A complete listing is impossible because the tasks vary
greatly. In addition, a paralegal will generally draft documents, including
pleadings, contracts, briefs, wills, health care proxies, probate papers,
tax forms, etc. Again, a complete list of the forms a legal assistant may
prepare is countless.
In what areas may a paralegal be employed?
Paralegals are employed in a wide variety of offices. These include
corporations, government, law firms handling litigation, personal injury,
insurance, real estate, wills, trusts, probate, tax, bankruptcy,
immigration, legal and medical malpractice, collection, employee benefits,
intellectual property, securities, workers compensation, environmental law,
family law, criminal law, computer law, and entertainment law. The listing
here is merely illustrative; it is impossible to provide a full listing.
What is the difference between a paralegal
and a legal assistant?
Nothing. Initially, the term "paralegal" was used. Based upon the expanding
opportunities, however, the term "legal assistant" seemed to cover a broader
range of abilities.
What is the difference between the
Associate's Degree Program and the Certificate Program?
Although exceptions may be made, the
Certificate Degree Program is only for students who have completed at least
60 college credits. See transfer policy. Students in the Certificate program must complete 30
credits of paralegal studies. See Program Requirements page. Those courses
can be completed in as few as two semesters but must be completed within
The Associates Degree Program is for students
who have not completed at least 64 college credits. This program is
comprised of general education requirements (e.g. English, science, math)
and program requirements. See Program Requirements page.
What Classes Should I Enroll Into?
The long answer is: it
depends on whether you enroll in the Fall or Spring and whether you are in
the Certificate program or the Degree program. There are certain "core" or
"mandatory" courses which students must take. These are Introduction to
Paralegal Studies (a prerequisite to all other courses), Litigation, Legal
Research and Writing, Computer Applications for the Law Office, and the
Students then select five (5) "elective"
courses from the following: Torts and Investigations, Real Property Law,
Estates Wills and Trusts, Partnerships and Corporations, Family Law,
Intellectual Property, Medical Malpractice, Criminal Law, Elder Law, Health
Care Law, and Immigration Law. The elective courses are rotated, and
students must consult the "Schedule of Instructions" each semester. You can
find a link to this off the main Westchester Community College home page:
Fall Schedule for Certificate Degree:
Students in the Certificate Program seeking to finish the program within two
academic semesters should be aware that several of the mandatory courses are
only offered in the Fall. Therefore, students generally will enroll in the
following Fall night section courses: Introduction to Paralegal Studies (a
prerequisite to all other courses), Litigation (mandatory), Legal Research
and Writing (mandatory), Computer Applications for the Law Office
(mandatory), and Partnerships and Corporations (elective).
The intensive Introduction to Paralegal
Studies course runs for the first three weeks of the semester. The class
meets for three Tuesday and Thursday nights, 6:00-9:00pm, and three
Saturdays, 9:00am to 5:00pm.
Once that course is complete, Litigation,
Legal Research and Writing, Computer Applications for the Law Office, and
Partnerships and Corporations run for the remaining 12 weeks of the
semester. As noted above, Litigation, Legal Research and Writing, and
Computer Applications for the Law Office are mandatory courses and are
currently only offered in the Fall semester.
Spring Schedule for Certificate Degree:
Returning students choose among the
electives offered. In Spring and Summer, the following courses are generally
offered: Torts and Investigations, Real Property Law, Estates Wills and
Trusts, Intellectual Property, Family Law, Criminal Law, Immigration Law and Health Care
Fall Schedule for Associates Degree:
Students just beginning their
Associates Degree should enroll in the Introduction to Paralegal Studies
course and begin completing their general education requirements. See
Program Requirements page to view the general education requirements.
Can the program be completed on a
Of course. But do note, the
Certificate Program must be completed within three years.
How much does the program cost?
The answer to that question depends on whether you are taking classes on a
full- or part-time basis. Click for
current tuition and fees
Does Your Program Have Any Articulation
Agreements with Other Colleges?
An articulation agreement is an
agreement between Westchester Community College and another college whereby the other college agrees
to accept credits earned while at Westchester Community College. Currently, two such agreements are in
place: one with Mercy College and the other with SUNY Purchase. Both
agreements allow graduates of the Associates Degree program to transfer all
their credits to selected programs at the other institution. Hence,
graduates of the program will transfer into their junior (3rd) year at the
other institution and may obtain a Bachelor's Degree from that college. This
generally results in a large financial savings. See the program director for
specifics of the agreement.
Forms & Samples