The Department of Political Science offers a Certificate in Paralegal Studies. The program is designed to educate students about a broad range of legal topics, and we work to equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in law-related careers. Our program focuses on developing the critical thinking and analytical skills of students through research, writing and practical assignments. Our faculty includes many successful attorneys from Indianapolis and surrounding communities.
The Certificate is crucial to finding work as a paralegal. Most law firms now require the Paralegals they hire to have a Certificate from a university. However, the Paralegal Studies courses are also helpful for those students who wish to pursue other law-related occupations. A substantive knowledge of the law and legal systems is important for employees in areas from private business to government agencies. The Paralegal Studies courses teach students to navigate the legal system. Students will leave the program with the professional and analytical skills necessary for law-related careers or even law school. Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public except as permitted by law.
For more information, please contact the Paralegal Studies advisor Professor Shana Stump at 317-278-7558.
To earn the Certificate, students must complete nine courses (27 credit hours) with a grade of C or better in each course. Of the 10 paralegal courses needed for the certificate (9 required courses + Intro to Law prerequisite), at least 6, or a majority of courses, must be completed at IUPUI.
Students declaring the Paralegal Certificate beginning in Fall 2015 must comply with these requirements.
Prerequisites. Before starting the program, all students muct meet the following requirements:
- Placement or completionf of ENG W131 - Reading, Wiriting and Inquiry.
- Speaking proficiency: Completion of COMM R110 - Fundamentals of Speech Communication.
- Computing proficiency: Completion of BUS K201 - Computers in Business, or another course approved by the School of Liberal Arts Baccalaureate Competency Degree Sheet.
- POLS Y211 - Introduction to Law with a grade of C or better.
- 30 credit hours in General Education (including the courses listed above) or prior Associate or Bachelor’s degree.
Required legal specialty courses (9 cr.):
- POLS Y221 - Legal Research & Writing for Paralegal Studies I (3 cr.)
- POLS Y222 - Litigation for Paralegal Studies I (3 cr.)
- POLS Y232 - Professional Responsibility for Paralegals (3 cr.)
Elective legal specialty courses (18 cr.)*. Select six of the following:
- POLS Y223 - Litigation II for Paralegal Studies II (3 cr.)
- POLS P324 - Property Law for Paralegal Studies (3 cr.)
- POLS P325 - Contract Law for Paralegal Studies (3 cr.)
- POLS P326 - Tort Law for Paralegal Studies (3 cr.)
- POLS P327 - Criminal Law for Paralegal Studies (3 cr.)
- POLS P328 - Family Law for Paralegal Studies (3 cr.)
- POLS P329 - Estate Law for Paralegal Studies (3 cr.)
- POLS P330 - Bankruptcy Law for Paralegal Studies (3 cr.)
- POLS P331 - Advanced Legal Writing for Paralegal Studies (3 cr.)
- POLS P333 - Business Associations for Paralegals (3 cr.)
- POLS P431 - Advanced Legal Research for Paralegal Studies (3 cr.)
- POLS Y481 - Field Experience in Political Science (3-6 cr.)
Online non-legal speciality electives. Only two on-line courses are permitted, and can be used as part of your six elective courses:
- INFO I330 - Legal and Social Informatics of Security
- INFO I350 - Foundations in Legal Informatics
- INFO I410 - Electronic Discovery
- INFO I470 - Litigation Support Systems and Courtroom Presentation
- NEW-N 480 - Technology and the Law
* Y211 and Y221 are prerequisites for most of these courses (see Schedule of Classes or OneStart for details). This does not stop you taking these classes before - or at the same time as - you take Y211 and Y221, but instructors in these elective courses will assume that you have the skills taught in Y211/221.
Note : If you have already taken a course which you believe covers similar ground to any of the above, and would like to have that course substituted, you may petition the Department. You will need to provide a syllabus of the course.
BACHELOR’S DEGREE OPTION: Students interested in a bachelor’s degree which includes the Paralegal Certificate may want to consider majoring in Law in Liberal Arts. More information is available on that site.
If you are already an IUPUI student, you only need to complete a one page form in the Political Science department office (Cavanaugh Hall 504J), and declare your intention to pursue the certificate in the Liberal Arts Student Affairs Office in CA 401.
If you have never been admitted to IUPUI and do not hold an undergraduate degree, you will need to file for admission with the IUPUI Enrollment Center. Applications can be picked up from their office in Cavanaugh Hall, or ordered by phone at 317-274 4591, or submitted electronically at Enrollment Center. Once you are admitted to IUPUI, you should complete a one page form in the Political Science department office, and declare your intention to pursue the certificate in the Liberal Arts Student Affairs Office. You can then register for and begin classes in the certificate program.
If you already hold a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, you can file for admission with the IUPUI Enrollment Center for a certificate program. Applications can be picked up from their office in the Campus Center, ordered by phone at 317-2744591, or submitted electronically at Enrollment Center. Once you are admitted to IUPUI, you should complete a one page form in the Political Science department office, and declare your intention to pursue the certificate in the Liberal Arts Student Affairs Office. You can then register for and begin classes in the certificate program.
Note: All students should meet with the Paralegal Studies advisor before registering for classes.
The schedule for upcoming semesters can be found on the web site of the IUPUI Registrar. Remember that all Paralegal Studies classes are listed under the Political Science Department or POLS.
WHAT IS A PARALEGAL?
According to the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Assistants, a Paralegal is "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."
The roles and responsibilities of Paralegals are constantly evolving. You can read more about what Paralegals do in various areas of the law by visiting the web site of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations. Click on the "CLE" tab, scroll down to "Paralegal Responsibilities", and this will take you to the Paralegal Responsibility Handbook.
JOBS FOR PARALEGALS
One of the best sources of information on the paralegal profession in Indiana is the Indiana Paralegal Association. The organization has monthly meetings and is an excellent source for information on the paralegal job market. It publishes a monthly newsletter called The Precedent and maintains a job bank for its members. Students in the Paralegal Studies program must join the IPA in order to receive these benefits. Student dues are $40 per year. Please visit the IPA web site for more details.
The School of Liberal Arts has a Career Center which can help students find positions as a paralegal, and which can put employers in touch with students in the certificate program. During regular semesters the Center is open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm, but we recommend that you make an appointment.
If you are a student, you can register online or you can visit the Center to talk about the job search experience, to file your resume, and to talk about resume preparation and other issues.
If you are an employer, contact the Career Center to list your jobs, and take part in Job Fairs.
JOB OUTLOOK FOR PARALEGALS
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the paralegal job market is expected to grow 17% over the next ten years.
The site lists the average salary for Paralegals as $46,990.00.
At the end of your course work, you may also complete a 140-hour paralegal internship. This can count as one of the six elective courses, if taken as Y481 - Field Experience in Political Science. For those seeking a job as a paralegal, an internship can be a helpful way of learning on the job, and making useful contacts with potential employers. We have a limited list of legal employers who will allow students to work as unpaid interns. Because our list is still so small, we recommend that you locate an internship in a legal field that interests you. Students can only earn internship credit for new positions. You cannot earn credit for a job you have prior to enrolling for the course.
For more information, please contact the Paralegal Studies director Professor Erin Engels at 317-278-0442.
PARALEGAL STUDIES LISTSERV
The dep rtment of Political Science sponsors a Paralegal Studies Listserv, which sends e-mails about internships and events pertinent to paralegal students. To be added to the listserv contact Erin Engels.
To find out more about the instructor s for our courses, see our Faculty page.
If you are interested in teaching courses for us on a part-time basis, and have the required professional qualifications, please send an e-mail to department chair Prof. Scott Pegg, listing the courses you would be most interested in teaching, and attaching your current CV.
STUDENT COMPLAINT PROCEDURE
If you have a concern or a complaint about a faculty member, there is a procedure to follow. First, you should talk with the faculty member and try and resolve the concern directly. If this does not work, then you should contact the chair of the department and arrange a meeting, or present your concerns, with all relevant supporting material. The chair will then investigate and let you know the outcome. If this is still not to your satisfaction, then you can take your concerns to the Associate Dean of Students of the School of Liberal Arts. Under no circumstances should you contact the administration of the school or the university unless you have completed all earlier steps.
COMPLETING YOUR CERTIFICATE
You must notify us when you enter your final semester. Please send an e-mail with your name and student identification number to Erin Engels notifying us you believe you will complete the certificate at the end of the semester. Once you have completed all required courses with a C or better, the paralegal director with inform the School of Liberal Arts and the certificate will be conferred. The Paralegal Studies Certificate will be mailed to your home address. The Political Science department will not request the certificate without notification from you. It is your responsibility to contact the office at the beginning of your final semester to be added to the expected completion list. Exact certificate declaration deadlines are announced on the paralegal listserv. Any delay in contacting the department will result in a one semester delay in the issuance of your Certificate.
LEX HONOR SOCIETY
The faculty select two students each year to join Lambda Epsilon Chi. Students must have completed two-thirds of the required Paralegal Studies courses and have a GPA of 3.6 or higher for consideration.
For more information, please visit the web site of LEX.
PROGRAM OBJECTIVES AND STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES
Developed August 2013
Developed to coincide with the IUPUI Principles of Undergraduate Learning (PULs), more information on which is available at http://ctl.iupui.edu/Resources/PULs
Objective 1: To prepare students to communicate effectively in a legal environment. This objective is demonstrated by the student’s ability to:
- Analyze legal situations;
- Use legal research tools or print electronic sources effectively;
- Write well researched and legally reasoned responses;
- Effectively communicate both orally and in writing.
Objective 2: To stimulate critical thinking in our students. This objective is demonstrated by the student’s ability to:
- Evaluate legal situations;
- Consider legal arguments and counter-arguments and prepare a response;
- Arrive at reasoned persuasive legal conclusions and be able to support these conclusions.
Objective 3: To prepare students for careers in the legal field. This objective is demonstrated by the student’s ability to:
- Behave in a professional and courteous manner;
- Develop an organizational system for accomplishing work;
- Meet strict deadlines;
- Develop General Computer and Office Skills.
Objective 4: To provide a foundational knowledge of legal principles. This objective is demonstrated by the student’s ability to:
- Develop an understanding of legal concepts and structures;
- Learn legal vocabulary;
- Retain knowledge about the legal system.
Objective 5: To prepare students to invoke an understanding of legal rules and structures to promote fairness and civility. This objective is demonstrated by the student’s ability to:
- Understand and apply procedural rules;
- Prepare effective and persuasive pleadings and other documents.
Objective 6: To prepare students to learn and apply rules of legal ethics. This objective is demonstrated by the student’s ability to:
- Understand the impact of rules of professional conduct;
- Apply the rules of professional conduct.
The following is a list of web sites you may find useful.
- American Bar Association
- ABA-Standing Committee on Paralegals
- Indiana Paralegal Association
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations
Code of Ethics
Search Legal Jobs
- Indiana Paralegal Association
- Law Match
- Legal Staff
- Law Bulletin
Legal Research. These sites provide free legal research information.
- Case Law - Limited Federal Decisions
- All Supreme Court and 10 years Federal and State
- Indiana Supreme Court Since 1999
- Indiana Court of Appeals Since 1999
- Codes - Indiana Code
- Indiana Administrative Code
- United States Code
- Code of Federal Regulations
- All Federal Codes and Rules
- Municipal Codes
- Find Law
- Basic Citation Manual
- Occupational Outlook Handbook for Paralegals