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JMU Online Paralegal Program Details

Paralegal program in Virginia

James Madison University’s Paralegal Certificate is specially designed for working adults.

Our program is offered in a convenient four-month online format and combines the theoretical and practical sides of law. Our students log into the live, instructor-led classes twice a week, where they will be invited to participate in the discussions. Paralegal course materials are also hosted in the online environment. This tailored program of study is convenient for you as an adult learner so that you can quickly start your legal career in a few short months.

The skills, training, and knowledge acquired in this program include an advanced understanding of legal procedure, ethics, and substantive law as well as research, communication, and writing skills.

Who Should Attend the JMU Online Paralegal Certificate Program?

  • Legal staff wanting to advance their careers by completing formal paralegal education
  • Career changers looking for a profession with strong earning potential

This online certificate program serves paralegals in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and several surrounding states.

Our Online Paralegal Certificate Program Includes the Following Courses:

Career Preparation – The Career Preparation sections provide up-and-coming paralegals the tools they need to compete for jobs. This course also provides an introduction to the paralegal profession and workplace.

EFFECTIVE FALL 2016: As part of the Career Preparation classes, you will complete a paralegal career portfolio. The paralegal career portfolio is a collection of written assignments from the paralegal program along with your résumé and cover letter. It is a visual tool that highlights skills employers want. This is an opportunity to showcase your formal training and build potential employers’ confidence in you.

Introduction to Law – The Introduction to Law course provides an overview of the environment in which a paralegal works, as well as legal writing and citation, the operation of the court system, the role of government in the legal system, and the basics of attorney/paralegal ethics.

Legal Research & Writing – The Legal Research & Writing course provides the foundation for finding legal authority, conducting legal analysis, and writing a basic legal memorandum. During the course, students will conduct legal research through LexisNexis’ online database. Paralegal certificate students will identify and distinguish the difference between primary and secondary authority, and author a legal memorandum.

Civil Litigation – The Civil Litigation course prepares students to work in the context of civil litigation. Note that Virginia’s legal system is similar to many other states, and this knowledge is applicable outside of the Commonwealth of Virginia. During the course, students will learn both the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures (applicable in all federal courts) and the Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure.

Contract Law – The Contract Law course provides an introduction to the broad area of contract law, the basics of contract law, and the elements necessary to create a valid contract. During the course, students in the paralegal certificate program will learn the basic requirements of an enforceable contract, contract performance, and remedies available upon the breach of a contract.

JMU wants to ensure that students receive the best educational experience, which will result in future employment opportunities. In order to achieve this goal, every student will complete legal projects throughout the entire program, leading to the creation of a paralegal career portfolio.

JMU Online Paralegal Certificate Program versus Certification?

A few states require paralegal certification. To become “certified,” the paralegal passes an exam given by a formal organization, such as the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA.) Virginia, however, does not require paralegal “certification.” As well, certification is not even required by the American Bar Association. Still, employers value paralegals who possess job-related education or training. JMU’s certificate in paralegal studies is taught to provide the student with a command of several essential skills paralegal employers are looking for, including knowledge of legal procedure, research, and ethics, and the ability to draft legal documents.

JMU’s certificate is NOT a certificate of participation, which is given to individuals who attend very brief workshop events and aren’t required to demonstrate mastery of the learning material taught in our course.

Enroll in the JMU Paralegal Certificate Program now »