El Centro College of the Dallas County Community College District is pleased to offer the Associate in Applied Science Degree Paralegal Studies Program. The program is designed to prepare an individual to function as a technically qualified assistant to an attorney to contribute to the efficient and economical delivery of legal services. Paralegals typically work in law firms, governmental agencies, and corporations. The program does not qualify a graduate to take a bar exam, represent clients in court, or give legal advice.
Is El Centro College an accredited institution?
El Centro College is accredited by the Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges, the Association of Texas Colleges and Universities, and the League for Innovation in the Community College.
The El Centro College Paralegal Studies Program currently consists of fourteen paralegal courses and seven general education core curriculum courses. Courses are sixteen week semester-length courses offered in the fall and spring. A limited number of paralegal careers are offered Summer I and Summer II. Most of the paralegal courses have both day and evening sections available.
Is the Paralegal Studies program approved by the American Bar Association?
The El Centro program is the only community college paralegal program in the North Central Texas area that is approved by the American Bar Association.
The Paralegal Studies Program is an institutional member of:
What are the courses like?
The curriculum includes courses that provide a combination of legal theories, principles, procedures, practical applications, and production of legal documents.
Concepts that the student should grasp during the course of the Program include:
Among the specific competencies and tasks that a graduate will be expected to perform upon completion of the Program are:
What are Cooperative Work Experience/Internship placements?
Students may earn credit for experience gained "on the job". Throughout the metroplex legal community, Cooperative Work Experience/Internship placements are available to students who enroll in elective courses LGLA 1380 and LGLA 2380. Students work in private and public legal agencies, corporate law departments, and law firms.
In addition to working at least 15 hours a week at a work site, enrolled students attend a one-hour weekly seminar. Seminar topics include setting goals, balancing quality of life, time management, interview techniques and resume construction.
Where is El Centro College located?
El Centro College, the flagship college of the Dallas County Community College District, is located in downtown Dallas, Texas, between Main, Elm, Lamar and Market Streets -- only a block from the West End station of DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit).
The college's location is particularly advantageous for paralegal students. The federal courthouse, the district courthouse, the Records Building, the county law library, and numerous law firms are all within walking distance. The College's convenient urban location is an asset to students who may work in or near the downtown Dallas area.
Does El Centro College have on-campus housing?
No, El Centro College is located in the heart of downtown Dallas. Students are responsible for providing their own housing.
How do I travel to the college and other sites?
Students are responsible for providing their own transportation and parking. Students may qualify for a free DART bus and light rail pass for each semester.
Where may I take courses besides El Centro College?
All of the paralegal courses are available at El Centro College during the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters. Two introductory courses are available at North Lake College and Richland College on a home/host basis. This allows students to become acquainted with the Paralegal Studies Program. Under the home/host program, El Centro College is the "home campus;" North Lake and Richland Colleges are each a "host campus." All "home-host" courses are taught by El Centro Paralegal Studies Program faculty.
Paralegal courses offered at the host campuses include:
For the remainder of the degree requirements, students take program courses at El Centro.
Refer to the Fall or Spring Schedules of North Lake or Richland for times and days of "home-host" course offerings under Paralegal or Legal Assistant listings.
Is job placement assistance available?
The Dallas County Community College District provides job placement services free of charge to DCCCD students (credit and noncredit), alumni and former students. Job opening notices the Program receives are also posted in the college's Career Services Center and on the ECC Paralegal Student Association website.
How do I obtain my textbooks?
New and used textbooks required for most paralegal courses are available for purchase by students in the College Bookstore on campus. The cost of books per course can vary. Online resources are also available.
Does the college library have legal-specific resources available?
The Program's primary library (the "Law Library") specifically serves the Program, although it is open to all College personnel and students.
The Law Library offers legal resources in two formats:
Print (hard and soft cover) Computer (WESTLAW, LEXIS, the Internet, and various resources on CD-ROM)
Can I transfer courses into/out of the Paralegal Studies Program?
Students who have successfully completed academic credit courses with a grade of "C" or better from other colleges and universities may seek to have these courses considered for transfer into the El Centro College Paralegal Studies program. Students should contact the program conselor at El Centro to have these courses considered for transfer credit.
What if I have coursework over ten years old?
Applicants with coursework over ten years old who wish to have that transcript work ignored under the "Academic Fresh Start" provision should consult the program couselor as to the advisability of such an action.
What if I have coursework from colleges outside the United States?
Consideration of courses for transfer credit from colleges and universities outside the United States will be given. Before foreign credentials will be considered for transfer credit, the student must arrange the evaluation of transcripts and related documentation by a professional evaluation agency. The student is responsible for all costs of the evaluation and translation of foreign credentials. Students are advised that this process is sometimes quite lengthy and expensive. Contact the program counselor for information.
Is the ECC Paralegal Studies Program offered online?
The ECC Paralegal Studies Program consists of 14 paralegal courses and 7 general education core courses. Many of the general education courses are offered in both on-campus and online formats. All of the paralegal courses are offered in on-campus or web-enhanced on-campus format so that the high educational standards required by the American Bar Association can be maintained.
Are there any courses I should take in high school to help me prepare?
Some courses that you will find helpful to prepare for the paralegal profession are:
Whom do I contact for more information?
ADVISORY COMMITTEEMembers of the Advisory Committee include paralegals employed in the public and private sectors (some of whom are graduates of the Program), practicing attorneys, faculty and school administrators, as well as representatives of the general public.
Past presidents of the local and state paralegal associations also serve on the Advisory Committee and teach in the Program. These individuals play an active role in the curriculum planning of the Program and work closely with the Program staff in ongoing operation and evaluation of the Program.
The Advisory Committee members:
Students are encouraged to join the local, state, and national professional organizations and participate in the various activities each organization provides. Program graduates and faculty are active in these professional organizations and statewide paralegal activities.
Student membership in the Legal Assistants Division of the State Bar of Texas allows students to participate in LAD-sponsored and State Bar-sponsored continuing legal education seminars, and receive quarterly and monthly LAD publications, and job bank listings.
The Dallas Area Paralegal Association (DAPA) (formerly known as Dallas Association of Legal Assistants - DALA) also offers student membership to the Program's students. Students are welcome at DAPA's general and sectional meetings. DAPA's mentor program offers a student member the opportunity to associate one-on-one with a working paralegal. DAPA student members also receive the monthly DAPA newsletter, which links the student to the news and information from the paralegal community as a whole and with local job bank listings. A student membership in DAPA includes student membership in the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). Program students and faculty have published articles in its monthly publication.
Scholarships are offered annually by DAPA.
Students are encouraged to participate in various legal community activities such as mock trials and career seminars held by the National Institute of Trial Advocacy throughout the year, Southern Methodist University Law School, Dallas Young Lawyers Association, and other groups
The Legal Assistants of North Texas Association (LANTA) is the local arm of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Students are invited to attend the monthly meetings.
The El Centro College Paralegal Student Association is the college Program's professional organization. Meetings are held each semester.
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