Professional and Continuing Education

Pawley Hall, Room 440G
456 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-3177

aba paralegal program
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Contact Us: 

Barbara Lister-Tait
Program Director

Pawley Hall Rm 440E
456 Pioneer Dr
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(248) 370-4386
Fax: (248) 370-3090

Paralegal Certificate

The Paralegal Profession: Fast Facts

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 15% growth in employment of  paralegals and legal assistants between 2016 and 2026, much faster than the  average for all occupations. The median annual wage for paralegals was  $50,410 in May 2017. Formally trained paralegals with strong computer and  database management skills should have the best job prospects.

The growth of prepaid legal plans also should contribute to the demand for legal services. In an effort to reduce costs and increase efficiency, businesses are hiring paralegals to perform tasks once done by lawyers. These organizations include but are not limited to:
  • private law firms (largest organization to hire paralegals)
  • corporate legal departments
  • insurance companies
  • real estate and title insurance firms
  • banks
NALA has a useful  guide to typical paralegal duties by specialty. To view current paralegal employment data, take a look at the NALA 2016 National Utilization and Compensation Survey Report.

* Please be advised paralegals may not offer legal services or advice directly to the public, except as permitted by law.  

Evening Program Overview

OU’s Professional and Continuing Education (PACE) will offer a one year, cohort certificate evening program (non-credit) for individuals interested in a paralegal career.

Oakland University's Paralegal Program is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) through its Standing Committee on Legal Assistants. This committee is charged with fostering excellence in paralegal educational programs by requiring adherence to a defined set of guidelines. ABA guidelines focus on admission standards, student services, educational programming, faculty, library and administrative procedures. One of the first established in Michigan, Oakland University's Paralegal Program has maintained the ABA endorsement since its initial recognition in 1976.

This full time program consists of three 14 week semesters- 9 courses; classes run 6:30-9:30 pm.  The cohort group will follow the schedule below:

Semester 1 Ethics and Introduction to Law; Contracts; Torts

Semester 2 Legal Research and Writing; Litigation; CALR- Computerized Legal Research (on-line)

Semester 3 – Special Topics; Special Topics; Internship – 100 hours (may be completed at your current work place.)  Special topics consists of probate, elder law, auto law and employment law.

Semester Start/End Dates

Cohorts may begin in September or January. Each cohort runs three semesters, 14 weeks in each semester.

September cohort classes begin in September, January, and May. Graduation is at the end of August.

January cohort classes begin in January, May, and September. Graduation is at the end of December.


Paralegal courses will be offered at 3 locations:

  • Auburn Hills University Center at 3350 Auburn Road, Auburn Hills, MI.
  • Thomas M. Cooley Law School at 2630 Featherstone, Auburn Hills, MI.
  • Oakland University,  2200 North Squirrel Road, Rochester, MI.
Program Tuition

Tuition for the one year Certificate in Paralegal Studies is $5,390.00.   Books and materials are a separate cost.

Tuition Payment Considerations

While non-credit professional certificate programs do not qualify for federal financial aid, prospective students should consider the following for tuition payment:


The primary goal of the Paralegal Program at Oakland University is to introduce students to the study of law with emphasis on real-world applications and legal procedures. Classes are taught by attorneys, judges and qualified professionals who understand the role of the paralegal in modern legal practice. 

Course Competency Skills

After completion of the paralegal program, each graduate will be able to demonstrate the following skills per the American Association of Paralegal Educators:

  • Critical Thinking Skills
  • Organizational Skills
  • General Communication Skills
  • Legal Research Skills
  • Legal Writing Skills
  • Computer Skills
  • Interviewing and investigating skills
  • Ethical obligations
  • Law Office management Skills

Course Descriptions and Syllabi
Oakland university's new, accelerated Paralegal Program consists of 9 courses: Ethics and Introduction to Law, Substantive Law - Contracts, Substantive Law - Torts, Litigation, Legal Research and Writing, and Computerized Assisted Legal Research and Basic Office Skills. The last semester will consist of a 100-hour internship and 4-7 week elective courses covering Auto Law, Employment Law, Probate, Estate Planning and Elder Law. Students who will be in a cohort group are required to take 3 courses every semester, for 3 semesters.

Ethics and Introduction to the Law
Overview of governmental organization (including Michigan and federal court  systems) and sources of law (including statutory law, common law and  administrative law). Includes an introduction to various specific  substantive law and procedural law topics and some basic legal vocabulary.  Students will learn and understand professional responsibility in the field  of law for paralegals. Syllabus

Substantive Law – Contracts
This course provides a comprehensive view of those major areas of contract  law likely to be encountered by the paralegal; the formation, modification,  assignment, interpretation, enforcement and breach of contracts; and  U.C.C./-Sales. The remedies for breach of contract and discharge of  contract are discussed. Students read and brief cases. Syllabus

Substantive Law - Torts
This course covers the basic law relating to the civil wrong as applied to  personal and property damage. Topics studied include intentional torts,  negligence and defenses to negligence, strict liability, products l iability, nuisance, liability of owners and occupiers of land, defamation,  invasion of privacy, fraud, interference with contractual relations and  torts in the family. Includes discussion of property law. Syllabus

Legal Research and Writing I
Provides knowledge of primary and secondary legal resources: statutes,  annotated law reports, statutory indexes, court reports, court rules,  digests, treatises, legal encyclopedias, the *Index to legal Periodical,  Words and Phrases, Shepard’s Citations,* restatements and related law  finders. Students prepare a legal memorandum, emphasizing analysis of a  fact situation, organization and use of plain English. Extensive use of the  law library is involved. Assignment deadline is post-term. Syllabus

CALR (Computer Aided Legal Research)
Paralegals are increasingly called upon to do research that goes beyond  traditional law library resources and into more varied areas of law than  ever before. Learn how to use electronic resources for solving advanced  research problems in such areas as business; bankruptcy; patent, trademark,  and copyright law; medical research; employment/labor law; wills and  estates; government publication/legislative history; environmental law; and  criminal law. Students will review basic office skills including word,  excel and power point. Syllabus

Litigation : Case Preparation Before Trial
Detailed study of pretrial case preparation: alternate dispute resolution;  review of court structure; causes of action; gathering and organization of  materials; legal investigation; client interviewing; complaint, answer and  affirmative defenses; and introduction to motions. A continuation of  Litigation I emphasizing motions, discovery and investigation,  interrogatories, depositions, mediation, expert witnesses and preparation
for trial. Syllabus - Karen Liddle Syllabus - Sarah Kuchon

An orientation to the requirements of the internship are discussed. This  course includes one class meeting and 100 hours law office experience.  Effective resume writing and job hunting skills are also covered.


Auto Law – 7 weeks 
Provides a basic understanding of no-fault concepts, auto insurance, and  terminology. Students learn how to prepare an auto accident case:  identification of who can be sued; what benefits and damages are  collectible; first and third party cases; case work-up; medical and  settlement statements; and duties at trial. Syllabus

Employment Law - 7 weeks
Course covers areas of the law that deal with the employment relationship  (hiring; wages, hours, and benefits; working conditions; termination) and  includes discrimination and other matters addressed by legislation.


An examination of substantive, procedural and practical aspects of probate  practice under EPIC (Michigan's Estate and Protected Individuals Code).  The course focuses on petitions to commence Informal, Formal and Supervised  probate proceedings, including preparation of inventory and accountings,  the claims process, sale and distribution of assets and closing of the  estate. Syllabus

Estate Planning
Overview of principles relating to the control and disposition of property  inter vivos and after death. Includes discussion of wills, intestate  succession, trusts, future interests, disability planning and living wills.  Fundamental income, gift, estate and inheritance tax and probate  considerations are introduced as part of the estate planning process.  Students draft several representative documents. Syllabus

A flexible 100-hour internship in a legal setting concludes the Paralegal Program. Internships are designed to give students exposure to the real world of legal practice. Students already employed in a legal setting can use the internship to explore new areas of law or legal procedure. Ongoing internship opportunities are available with the following companies:
  • Oakland County Circuit Courthouse
  • Michael Morse, P.C.

Grading Policy

As of Fall 2018, Oakland University has a new grading system.  All courses will be letter grades.  Oakland will be rounding GPA's based on the third digit after the decimal. Non-numerical grades will not change.  The non-numerical grades are W, I, P, S, U, R and Z. 

New Transcript Key - PACE Fall 2018

4.0 - 3.8   A
3.7- 3.4    A-
3.3 - 3.6   B+
3.0 - 3.2   B
2.7 - 2.9   B-
2.3 - 2.6   C+
2.0 - 2.2   C
1.7 - 1.9   C-
1.3 - 1.6   D+
1.0 - 1.2   D
0.0 - 0.9   F


Graduate Testimonials

Alum helps serve justice at The Sam Bernstein Law Firm

"One of the strengths of the Paralegal Program at Oakland University is the extremely knowledgeable faculty whose stories of real life experiences really convey a feel for the real world of law. The OU program is also very compact and easily managed for a student with many other responsibilities." Maria Dahl - 2016 graduate

"This internship experience has been invaluable in my preparation for a position as a Paralegal in the legal field. I cannot adequately express how much I learned from AND enjoyed this professional experience - the specific assignments, my sponsor, and the organization and its staff were all helpful and enjoyable!" Lisa Baylis - 2017 graduate

"It is rare to embark an enterprise where hesitations and expectations are substantially surpassed by the satisfaction brought by the final outcome. That is in short, my overall impression of the program. I could not be happier, prouder and more confident. Thank you!"

Magaly A. Castillo - 2017 graduate

Attendance Policy
Attendance is a factor in awarding CEUs. Students are allowed a maximum of two absences from the 14-week course. Extenuating circumstances may be discussed with individual instructors.

Completing the Program
The paralegal certificate is awarded to students who have been admitted to the program, completed all 9 courses with a grade of 2.0 or better in each course, and satisfied the internship requirements. The program is to be completed in one year and students are required to take 3 classes every semester.
How to

Admission Requirements
To earn the paralegal certificate, students must be admitted to the program. To be admitted, students must:

  • Have certified transcripts sent from an accredited higher education institution, college or university directly to the paralegal program director, showing satisfactory completion of a minimum of 45 semester hours or 60 quarter hours. 
    • Eighteen of those hours must represent a broad general education. 
      • Examples of courses considered general education include, but are not limited to: social and behavioral science, English composition and literature, and  foreign language.
      • Examples of courses not considered general education include, but are not limited to, physical education, performing arts, and accounting.
  • Submit a one-page, double spaced, computer created autobiographical writing sample. This should be representative of the applicant's best writing skills. A resume will not meet this requirement.
  • Students must complete the Personal Writing Inventory (PWI).  (Applicants who have earned a baccalaureate degree with an overall "B" average (3.0) are exempt.) Assessment will be given via email. Contact the program coordinator for specific details.

Applicants Without Requisite College Credits

Under the American Bar Association terms for approval of legal assistant programs, admission of those students without the requisite college credits is limited to 10% of the total admitted. This total is not established until after the PWI when all materials submitted by candidates for admission have been reviewed.  Applicants may be considered for admission to the program if their work experience in a legal setting has provided appropriate background. Applicants who are not accepted for a particular term may apply in a later term by writing to the program director requesting reconsideration.
Applicants should:
  • Describe this experience in a letter to the program director 
  • Submit a letter from their employer(s) attesting to this experience and recommending the applicant for admission to the program.
  • Legal secretaries and individuals with working experience in law offices, corporate law departments, and other law related positions would be considered primarily under this option.
Winter 2019 - Schedule 5th Cohort

Last semester - Graduation April 30, 2019

Classes begin on Monday, January 14th, 2019

Course nameCRNInstructorLocationDayTimeDates & Notes
Auto Law90096Allan Gordon Cooley Rm 153Tuesday 6:30pm-9:30pm 01/15-02/26
Employment Law90098Judge Deb BarnoCooley Rm 153Tuesday6:30pm-9:30pm 03/05-4/16
Estate Planning90095Maureen SuttonCooley Rm 153Wednesday6:30pm-9:30pm


Probate90097Maureen SuttonCooley Rm 153Wednesday6:30pm-9:30pm


Internship90094Barb Lister-TaiyAHUC Rm 2Monday6:30pm-7:30pm

01/14 Meets 1x

Winter 2019 - Schedule 6th Cohort

Classes begin on Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

Course nameCRNInstructorLocationDayTimeDates & Notes
Introduction to Law90072David PalmiereAHUC Rm 2Tuesday 6:30pm-9:30pm 01/15-04/16
Contracts90073Allan GordonCooley Rm 112 DE Wednesday6:30pm-9:30pm 01/16-04/17
Torts90071Tom LynchAHUC Rm 2Thursday6:30pm-9:30pm01/17-04/18
Orientation90058Barb Lister-TaitPawley Hall Rm 436Tuesday6:30pm-8:30pm12/04 Meets 1x

*Oakland University reserves the right to cancel courses due to low enrollment. To allow maximum enrollment, you will be notified of course cancellation 24 hours before the course start date via your home email or phone on record.