Who we are and What we offer
Welcome! The education you receive from the Paralegal Studies Program at SIU Carbondale is more than excellent technical courses and training. Our Paralegal Studies Program grants a four-year ABA approved Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies program in Illinois. The program is also monitored by the Paralegal Studies Advisory Council, comprised of representatives from the College of Liberal Arts, local attorneys, community representatives and practicing paralegals. Because paralegals often go on to become lawyers, our program offers a pre-law specialization in addition to our general paralegal curriculum.
Paralegal Studies Program Objectives
In overall philosophy, the SIU Carbondale Paralegal Studies program is based on the proposed Curriculum for the Training of Law Office Personnel, as stated by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Paralegals. The Paralegal Studies program goals and objectives are to promote critical and analytical thinking; to learn professional oral and written communication skills, including through legal research and writing; to exemplify professionalism and high ethical standards of the legal profession; to prepare students to practice as professional paralegals within law offices, corporations, or administrative agencies; and to perform professional procedural and substantive legal activities in assisting and under the supervision of an attorney. The Paralegal Studies program is also a great steppingstone for those who wish to go on to law school. Paralegals cannot provide legal advice, except as directed by an attorney, nor can they establish a client relationship or represent a client in court. Our program embraces a range of social sciences, humanities, and communication skills that gives students a grasp of the social and ethical contexts of the legal profession, encourages the spirit of inquiry, and develops confidence.
WHAT IS A PARALEGAL?
The American Bar Association defines "paralegal" as "a person, qualified by education, training, or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency, or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible." Paralegals cannot provide legal advice, except as directed by an attorney, nor can they establish a client relationship or represent a client in court.
WHAT KINDS OF TASKS DO PARALEGALS PERFORM?
The work that paralegals do varies with the settings and specialty areas in which they work. Some of the types of the tasks which paralegals perform include:
(1) conducting factual research involving documents and internet resources;
(2) performing legal research using library and online resources;
(3) reviewing and drafting legal documents;
(4) analyzing and organizing records and documents;
(5) assisting with business and real estate transactions;
(6) maintaining corporate records and minute books;
(7) attending to governmental and agency filings;
(8) interviewing witnesses and clients; and
(9) assisting with preparation of cases and with appearances in court.
WHAT KIND OF SKILLS DOES A PARALEGAL NEED?
Ideally, a paralegal displays a mix of analytical, administrative, managerial, research, and communicative skills. These include the ability to organize complex tasks and to independently solve problems, pay attention to details, manage time effectively, research factual and legal issues, work efficiently as a part of a team, and communicate efficiently in speech and writing. In addition, the legal environment requires a proficiency in computer and internet skills. Paralegals typically use word processors, spread sheet programs, data bases, and online resources, but also must learn and adapt to new and specialized software programs unique to their specialty and places of employment. Some paralegals function as coordinators who manage other paralegals. A paralegal must also have an ability to regularly learn about new developments in the law and new technologies as they are integrated into the legal profession.
Further information about paralegals and paralegalism can be found at the following websites.
* The Illinois Paralegal Association web site at www.ipaonline.org which provides information about the Association and links regarding paralegal programs.
* The National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc., (NFPA) web site at www.paralegals.org which provides a national perspective on the paralegal profession.
* The American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE) website at www.aafpe.org which provides information about paralegal education and programs.
* The American Bar Association (ABA) website at www.abanet.org/legalservices/paralegals provides information about the role of paralegals in assisting attorneys.