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Associate in Science/Associate in Applied Science

Paralegal Studies (Legal Assisting) (2299)

Florida Community College’s Legal Assisting Program is approved by the American Bar Association.

When lawyers walk into the court room, chances are their case, hearings, pleadings, legal arguments, motions and closings were researched and prepared in large part by a paralegal. This is a profession with many responsibilities. Depending on your specialty, you may write contracts, review mortgages, handle separation agreements, prepare tax returns or manage estate planning. You may also coordinate the activities of the law office staff and maintain financial office records. Indeed, there are only two things legal assistants and paralegals don’t do: practice law and give legal advice.

Mission Statement
The Florida Community College at Jacksonville Legal Assisting Program affirms the comprehensive mission of fostering the effective integration of legal assistants/paralegals into the legal service delivery team. Its primary mission is to provide rigorous, high-quality instruction, designed and developed to conform to the standards set by the American Bar Association, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the State of Florida, in a climate respecting the worth and dignity of each individual. The Florida Community College at Jacksonville Legal Assisting Program affirms the student as the heart of that educational endeavor. As such, the Legal Assisting Program works vigorously to ensure its standards of excellence are maintained and that its students possess the knowledge, skills and confidence needed to meet the demands and challenges of a legal assisting profession. In the spirit of its philosophy, the Legal Assisting Program is relentlessly dedicated to developing and achieving excellence in its individual student goals so that our mission is carried out as a lifelong learning process in the thinking and through the lives of our students.

Educational Goals of the Legal Assisting Program
An associate in science degree prepares graduates to assist attorneys as legal assistants in administrative agencies, insurance companies, private law firms, state agencies, corporations, government, and other legal environments. The technical curriculum has been designed to provide students with knowledge and skills in the areas of the role of a legal assistant, ethical requirements, legal research, analysis, the preparation of legal documents, litigation practice and procedure, real estate transactions, family law, administrative law, tort law, criminal law and probate law and practice. Emphasis is on training students in both civil and criminal matters.

An associate in science degree in Legal Assisting is offered to students who complete a minimum of sixty-four (64) credits, which must include:

  • Eighteen (18) general college credits
  • All of the Legal Assisting Program’s required courses
  • At least ten (10) credits of Legal Assisting Program electives
  • A minimum grade-point average of 2.00

The program culminates in a professional internship program. All other professional core courses must be completed prior to enrollment in the internship. In this course, students will work not less than 120 hours in a law-related office. In addition, students will meet weekly to share work experiences and receive final preparation for paraprofessional practice.

Graduates of the Legal Assisting Program shall be able to apply knowledge of the law and legal procedures in rendering direct assistance to lawyers. Note: While legal assistants/paralegals are not permitted by law to give legal advice, they do work under the direct supervision of attorneys, performing specifically delegated duties necessary in the effective delivery of legal services to the client. The program supports these ethical guidelines against the unauthorized practice of law by non-attorneys and students have extensive training in legal ethics.

Career Opportunities, Rapid Placement
Florida Community College’s Career Development Centers handle job placement for the majority of paralegals in Jacksonville and the surrounding five-county area. Lawyers benefit by shifting certain responsibilities to certified legal assistants and paralegals whose hours are billable.

Annual Salaries
Salaries and bonuses for paralegals average about $39,OOO and range as high as $61,400 with advancement and experience.

Certification and Articulation
The Certified Legal Assistant/Certified Paralegal credential is recognized in the legal community as representing the highest standard of excellence and professionalism, especially for those who have taken the additional step to attain the Specialty designation in one or more fields of practice. FCCJ and the Northeast Florida Paralegal Association cosponsor a five-week review course to help you prepare for the rigorous two-day certification exam.

Students who want to pursue a baccalaureate degree should consult the program director. Graduates of this degree program can articulate into a bachelor’s degree program in Legal Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University. See more information on articulation.

This program is approved by the American Bar Association. In fact, FCCJ has the only paralegal program in North Florida approved by the ABA. In accordance with stringent guidelines, all FCCJ legal program faculty members are ABA approved and the program has an active advisory committee of 24 area lawyers, judges, court administrators and business leaders.

Application Procedure
Students desiring to enter the legal assisting program must have a personal interview with the legal assisting program director prior to enrollment. New students are required to attend an orientation with the program director prior to enrolling in the PLA courses.

Estimated cost of tuition is $4,250 (for Florida residents, as of 7/06). Contact the program manager for additional costs (textbooks, materials, fees).

Paralegal Studies (Legal Assisting) (2299)

General Education Courses
ENC 1101 English Composition I (prerequisite
to PLA 1104)
ENC 1102 Writing About Non-Fiction 3
  or LIT 2000 Introduction to Literature: Writing
  About Fiction
  *Mathematics 3
  *Social and Behavioral Sciences 6
  *Humanities 3
  Credit Hours 18

Professional Courses
BUL 2131 Business Law I — The Legal Environment of Business 3
CGS 1570 Microcomputer Applications 3
  or CGS 1100 Microcomputer Applications
  for Business and Economics (4)
***SPC 2016 Speech Communication for Business and the Professions 3
Paralegal Courses  
PLA 1003 Introduction to Paralegal Studies 3
PLA 1104 Legal Research and Writing I 3
PLA 2273 Torts Law 3
PLA 2610 Real Estate Law 3
PLA 2730 Computer Assisted Legal Research 1
PLA 2114 Legal Research and Writing II 3
PLA 2600 Wills, Trusts and Estates 3
PLA 2800 Family Law 3
PLA 2200 Litigation 3
**PLA 1943 Internship
(students must request permission
from program director to enroll)
  Credit Hours 37

Professional Electives
ACG 2021 Financial Accounting 4
ACG 2071 Managerial Accounting 3
ACG 2100 Intermediate Accounting I 3
CJL 2062 Constitutional Law 3
ENC 2210 Technical Report Writing 3
BSC 1005 Life in Its Biological Environment 3
BSC 1005L Biology Laboratory 1
BSC 2050 Biology of Environmental Systems 3
BSC 2010C Principles of Biology 4
BSC 2020C Human Biology 4
BSC 2085C Human Anatomy and Physiology I 4
BSC 2086C Human Anatomy and Physiology II 4
CGS 1060 Introductory Computer Concepts 3
CGS 2512 Spreadsheet Concepts and Practices 3
CGS 2525 Introduction to Multimedia 3
CGS 2542 Database Concepts for Microcomputers 3
CGS 2554 Introduction to Eletronic Commerce 4
CGS 2555 Introduction to the Internet 4
HSC 1531 Medical Terminology 3
MAN 2021 Principles of Management 3
MAN 2043 Quality Management 3
MAN 2125 Supervision and Performance
MAN 2300 Human Resources Management 3
MAN 2582 Introduction to Project Management 3
MAR 1011 Principles of Marketing 3
MAR 2612 Marketing Research 3
OST 1581 Professional Development in the
Work Environment
OST 2501 Office Systems Management 3
OST 2771 Word Processing for Windows I 3
OST 2773 Word Processing for Windows II 3
OST 1100 Keyboarding/Introduction to
Word Processing
OST 1108 Keyboard Skills/Speed Building 3
OST 1336 Fundamentals of Business
OST 1355 Introduction to Information and
Records Management
OST 1384 Introduction to Customer Service 3
OST 2335 Applied Business Communications 3
OST 2402 Administrative Support Systems
and Procedures
SBM 2000 Small Business Management 3
SPA 1602 American Sign Language I 3
SPN 1120 Beginning Spanish I 3
FRE 1120 Beginning French I 3
GER 1120 Beginning German I 3
Any course with an ACG, CCJ, CJL, FRE, GER, MAN,
MAR, OST, SPA or SPN prefix
  Credit Hours 6

Law-Related Elective Courses
PLA 2880 Constitutional Law 3
PLA 1931 Selected Topics in Paralegal Studies 1
PLA 1933 Selected Topics in Paralegal Studies 3
PLA 1303 Criminal Law and Procedure for
Legal Assistants
PLA 1423 Contract Law 3
PLA 2240 Alternative Dispute Resolution 3
PLA 2263 Evidence for the Legal Assistant 1
PLA 1080 Legal Interviewing and Communicating 3
PLA 2763 Law Office Procedures 3
BUL 2242 Business Law II 3
PLA 2465 Debtor/Creditor Law 3
PLA 2433 Business Organizations 3
PLA 2732 Technology in the Law Office 3
Any course with a PLA prefix  
  Credit Hours 3

Total Credit Hours: 64

*Refer to A.S. degree General Education Requirements.
**An approved elective may be substituted for this course if students have verifiable, related work experience of not less than 12 consecutive months.
***Transfer students may use speech equivalent SPC 2600 or SPC 2040 or an acceptable SPC prefix elective.

The final responsibility for meeting graduation requirements stated in your Degree Audit Report rests with the student.

Record of Conviction of a Crime
Most public service agencies and some law firms require students to undergo drug screening and criminal background checks prior to placement in legal departments. Students who drug screening and criminal background checks are deemed unsatisfactory may be denied access to public service agencies. If the students enroll in an internship or cooperative education class and are seeking experience at a State Attorney’s Office or other public service agency, then a background check is performed by the SAO or facility and the student may be denied the internship based on their criminal record.

You have two options in this program: the associate in science (A.S.) degree, which can prepare you for employment or transfer to a state university, and the associate in applied science (A.A.S.) degree, which is intended primarily for students who want immediate employment after graduation. If you choose the A.S. degree you must take MAC 1105, MGF 1106 or a higher level mathematics. The A.A.S. degree requires MAT 1033 or higher. Please see an advisor to determine the option that is best for you.


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