Paralegal Graduate Certificate Program

Rice paralegals are in demand. The Paralegal Graduate Certificate program is skills-based and offered in both a classroom and online format. The paralegal studies program is taught by practicing attorneys and includes career search support. Individuals who successfully complete the program receive a Rice Certificate of Achievement.

Paralegal Graduate Certificate Program

In 2017, Rice's online Paralegal Graduate Certificate Program ranked No. 2 for Best Online Paralegal Programs by College Choice. 

Rice University's Paralegal Graduate Certificate Program is skills-based and offered in both a classroom and online format. The paralegal studies program is taught by practicing attorneys and includes career search support. Individuals successfully completing the program will receive a Rice Certificate of Achievement. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the paralegal profession is projected to grow 17 percent between 2012 and 2022, significantly faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual salary for paralegals was $47,570 in 2013, with the top 10 percent earning an annual salary of $76,960.

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The paralegal profession is the right fit for career changers, professionals looking to gain legal experience, and young professionals looking to enter the legal field.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the paralegal profession is projected to grow 17 percent between 2012 and 2022, significantly faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual salary for paralegals was $47,570 in 2013, with the top 10 percent earning an annual salary of $76,960.

Participants who successfully complete the Essential Skills course and substantive topic courses earn the Rice University Paralegal Graduate Certificate. Class projects and exams, including a comprehensive final will be administered. Participants must score 70 percent or above on the final exam, obtain a class average of 70 percent or above and attend at least 70 percent of the classes in order to earn the certificate.

The Paralegal Graduate Certificate Program is offered in online and classroom formats.

Classroom Format

Our class sizes are small and feature high-caliber students who hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Students receive personalized attention and direction, ensuring greater success in the paralegal program.

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Online Format

Have a new career in five months.

No matter where you live or plan to practice, the online paralegal certification program provides access to legal research and writing labs for all 50 states, as well as all U.S Territories, something no other program offers. In addition, the program trains students in skills that are transferable to any law firm – in any city.
In our online paralegal certification program, you will attend regularly scheduled classes with live instruction and access to online study tools that include practice exercise questions, lecture notes, quizzes and mock exams. Students will have access to LexisNexis® and Westlaw® accounts.
Class recordings are made available in video (MP4) format.

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the paralegal profession is projected to grow 17 percent between 2012 and 2022, significantly faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual salary for paralegals was $47,570 in 2013, with the top 10 percent earning an annual salary of $76,960.

Participants who successfully complete the Essential Skills course and substantive topic courses earn the Rice University Paralegal Graduate Certificate. Class projects and exams, including a comprehensive final will be administered. Participants must score 70 percent or above on the final exam, obtain a class average of 70 percent or above and attend at least 70 percent of the classes in order to earn the certificate.

Whether you choose to attend class on campus or online, you will attend regularly scheduled classes with live instruction. You will also have access to online study tools that include practice exercise questions, lecture notes, quizzes and mock exams. Exams and assignments are delivered online as well. The curriculum consists of Essential Skills and substantive topics such as Tort Law, Civil Procedures and Contract Law.

Participants must successfully complete the Essential Skills course and substantive topic courses to earn the Rice University Paralegal Graduate Certificate. Class projects and exams, including a comprehensive final, will be administered. Participants must score 70 percent or above on the final exam, obtain a class average of 70 percent or above and attend at least 70 percent of the classes in order to earn the certificate.

Not in Texas? No problem.

No matter where you live or plan to practice, the online program provides access to legal research and writing labs for all 50 states, as well as all U.S Territories, something no other program offers. In addition, the program trains students in skills that are transferable to any law firm – in any city.

Topics

Introduction to the legal field Participants learn about paralegal career opportunities and the types of tasks a paralegal may perform.

Legal terminology By following an actual legal matter through the legal process, participants are introduced to relevant legal terms. The case presented is tracked through both the civil and criminal court procedures.

Legal analysis To understand the process and structure of proper legal analysis, participants develop the skills to analyze both case law and statutory authority.

Legal memorandum form After learning the analytical process, participants analyze provided cases and statutes to prepare internal and external memoranda.

State-specific instruction Local and state trial and appellate courts specific to Texas jurisdiction are discussed. Participants are also provided with information related to researching the law within Texas.

Federal court structure Participants are instructed in the basic differences between state and federal jurisdiction as well as the jurisdictions for the various federal courts in Texas.

Stages of litigation Participants learn the three stages of the litigation process and the functions a paralegal may perform during each stage.

Government structure Because each branch of government uses various forms of law, participants learn the structure of government and the laws that apply to each branch.

Ethical considerations Because a violation of an ethical rule may affect the supervising attorney as well as the paralegal, it is critical that participants be familiar with the rules of ethics and learn to maintain a high ethical standard.

Court rules Court rules are the procedural requirements for trials. Students are taught the most relied-upon court rules as well as the skills necessary to find any rule for specific procedural questions.

Discovery preparation Participants are taught form utilization and create sets of interrogatories, requests for admissions, and requests for production and inspection of documents. Participants are provided with templates, just as they would within a law-firm environment.

Discovery coordination The discovery process is one of the most important aspects of a paralegal’s involvement in the litigation process. Participants learn the rules relevant to discovery.

Pleading preparation Pleadings are documents filed with the court asking the court to take a specific action. Participants study pleadings and prepare a complaint (with a summons) and an answer.

Utilization of legal forms In a law-firm environment, a paralegal would rarely prepare a document from scratch, but would rely on previously existing forms and templates. In this class, participants learn to manipulate templates and utilize formbooks to become more effective and efficient paralegals.

Preparing for depositions A deposition is the oral questioning of a witness under oath, usually outside a courtroom. Participants learn the considerations for a deposition setup.

Deposition digesting Students are provided with a deposition transcript and then learn to summarize that document, an important paralegal skill.

Arbitration process Arbitration is the pre-trial process that encourages parties to avoid trial. Participants learn how the arbitration system works.

Application of hearsay rule and rule elementization The hearsay rule is discussed, and participants utilize the developed skill of rule elementization to properly analyze and apply rules to facts.

Index research The foundation of all legal research is the ability to use indexes. Participants learn to efficiently utilize fundamental research tools.

Interviewing clients Specific techniques to be considered when interviewing a client are discussed.

Law-office investigation Participants learn techniques of in-office and out-of-office investigations, including interviewing witnesses.

Legal research skills By using hands-on, interactive training devices, participants learn proper law library utilization, how to locate primary authority, how to use secondary sources, how to update research sources, and how to utilize specific legal materials, including American Law Reports, American Jurisprudence, 2d, Corpus Juris Secundum, West Digests, Words & Phrases, Am. Jur. Proof of Facts, formbooks, treatise research, legal periodicals, Shepard's, and state and federal statutory research. Participants are also trained in the use of the two most important legal research systems, the Key Number System and the Total Client Service Library.

Online legal research skills Due to a special relationship between the Rice Paralegal Graduate Certificate Program and LexisNexis, enrolled participants are trained in and have access to LexisNexis Online Legal Research for approximately one year.

Bluebook citation form A citation is an address to a legal document. Bluebook is the most widely accepted form of citation. Participants are thoroughly trained in citation form.

Informal advocacy Advocacy is the process of acting on behalf of another’s interests. Being able to obtain information through informal techniques is an invaluable skill for a paralegal.

Authority identification Authority is anything a court can use to reach its decision. Participants learn to identify the various types of authority, including primary, secondary, mandatory, persuasive and non-authority.

Strategies for employment Multiple strategies for seeking employment are discussed, including traditional and non-traditional methods.

 

For individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree, certificate programs offer the highest quality of paralegal education at an affordable cost. Please note that the Rice program requires that applicants hold a bachelor's degree.

According to a 2013 survey conducted by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), paralegals who have graduated from post baccalaureate certificate programs, such as the Rice program, are among the highest-paid individuals in the field.

Education Average Salary Average Compensation Responses
Undergraduate Certificate $57,026 $62,585 140
Post Baccalaureate Certificate $56,403 $58,631 200
Associate's Degree $53,399 $56,413 428
Bachelor's Degree $50,387 $52,436 117
Master's Degree $62,203 $65,196 7
Other $54,287 $57,048 136
None $54,631 $57,733 265

Source: NALA, 2012 National Utilization and Compensation Survey Report, October 2013 (pdf).