Program Overview

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 via a convenient four-month online format and combines the theoretical and practical sides of law. The live, interactive instructor-led classes meet online in two-hour evening sessions twice a week. Paralegal course materials and textbooks will also be hosted in the online platform. 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 assistants and staff wishing to enhance or advance their careers by earning a professional credential
  • Career changers seeking a profession with strong compensation

This online certificate program accommodates 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 the up-and-coming paralegal the tools needed to compete for jobs. This course also provides an introduction to the paralegal profession and workplace.

NEW FOR 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 resume and cover letter. It is a visual tool that highlights skills employers want. This is an opportunity to showcase your credibility and enhance prospective 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 Lexis Nexis’ 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.

Upon meeting the necessary requirements of the program, you will receive a certificate of completion from James Madison University.

The online Paralegal Studies Certificate is also approved for 6.2 Continuing Education Units (CEUs, or 62 contact hours) through Outreach & Engagement at James Madison University.

JMU Online Paralegal Certificate Program v. Certification?

A few states require paralegal certification. To be considered “certified,” the individual passes a comprehensive exam administered by a credentialing body, 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, even the ABA does not define a paralegal as “certified.” Nevertheless, employers value paralegals who possess relevant education or training. JMU’s certificate in paralegal studies is structured to provide the student with a command of several key competencies employers seek, including legal procedure, research, ethics, and legal writing.

JMU’s assessment-based certificate is NOT a certificate of attendance or participation, which is issued to individuals who attend very brief education/training events and aren’t required to demonstrate mastery of the learning material taught in our course.

Enroll in the JMU Paralegal Certificate Program now »