Aspiring paralegals in Florida can find more than 60 schools that offer paralegal training programs. Associate degrees are most common, but bachelor's degrees and post-bachelor's certificates are also available at some colleges. While a paralegal studies program isn't intended for continuation to law school, many of the courses in a degree program are recommended if this is a path that the graduate desires to pursue. A paralegal internship is commonly required so that students can get field experience in a law setting.
While pursuing a bachelor's degree, students may be able to earn a specialized certificate in an area of interest, such as estate planning, litigation, criminal law or commercial law. As the name implies, to enroll in a post-bachelor's certificate program, a bachelor's degree is required. Standard admissions requirements apply to associate and bachelor's degree programs. Profiled below are 10 of the largest schools in Florida that offer programs in paralegal studies.
Fort Lauderdale's Broward College offers an associate degree in paralegal studies that has American Bar Association (ABA) approval. This 64-credit degree program is offered at the school's South and North campuses and includes courses in legal writing and drafting, civil and criminal litigation, business law and principles of economics. Students also study ethics, immigration law, real estate law, business math and paralegal office systems.
Florida State College at Jacksonville
Florida State College at Jacksonville has an ABA-approved associate degree program with courses in legal research, law office technology, family law and torts law. A wide variety of business and legal electives are available, including interviewing, contract law, dispute resolution, evidence and law office procedures. At the end of the program, students are required to complete a 180-hour internship in a professional setting. Students who complete the program should be qualified for the exam that leads to the Certified Legal Assistant/Certified Paralegal designation.
Hillsborough Community College
Undergraduates at Hillsborough Community College, located in Tampa, can choose from associate and certificate programs in legal assisting. The Associate of Science requires 64 credits and include courses in litigation procedures, real estate law, legal ethics, criminal litigation, bankruptcy law and law office management. With permission of an instructor, students can pursue an internship towards the end of their studies. The certificate program requires 21 credit hours to complete and is designed for students who hold a bachelor's degree in another field.
Miami Dade College
Miami Dade College in Miami offers an ABA-approved associate degree program that requires a hands-on practicum or internship. Students can choose between day and evening courses in the fundamentals of law, trial preparation, appeals and criminal law. The program also includes legal seminars in ethics, real estate closing, immigration law and intellectual property law.
Nova Southeastern University
Fort Lauderdale's Nova Southeastern University features a bachelor's degree program and a 30-credit post-bachelor's certificate. The programs, which are both approved by the ABA, include some evening and online courses. Attorneys and judges in the state teach all classes. Students study criminal procedures, legal computer applications, real estate practice, torts and civil ligation, business relations and family law. Students have the opportunity to pursue an internship through elective options. Additionally, the school has a chapter of Lambda Epsilon Chi, a paralegal honor society.
Palm Beach State College
Palm Beach State College offers a paralegal associate degree program at its Lake Worth and Palm Beach Gardens campuses. Courses include the court system, bankruptcy law, immigration law, legal writing and research, administrative law and estate law. Undergraduates can choose electives in family law, American government and paralegal office systems and/or participate in a legal assistant co-op program. Students also have access to a law library with paper and electronic legal research materials.
Seminole State College of Florida
Students at Seminole State College of Florida, located in Sanford, can pursue an associate degree program with courses in civil and criminal litigation, torts, family law, administrative law, wills and trusts, property transactions, computer-assisted legal research, economics and law office management. This ABA-approved program is taught by four faculty members and includes a mandatory internship and mock trials. Upon graduation, students will be prepared to take the Certified Legal Assistant certification exam. The school also has a law library.
St. Petersburg College
St. Petersburg College in Clearwater offers several ABA-approved options in paralegal studies. The associate degree program covers accounting, interview and investigation techniques, legal research, guardianship law and business organizations. The bachelor's degree program builds on this foundation with coursework in constitutional law, comparative legal systems and professional responsibility as well as a capstone course. Students with an existing degree may choose the 24-credit certificate program, which prepares candidates for the Certified Legal Assistant/Certified Paralegal exam.
University of Central Florida
Orlando's University of Central Florida has Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in legal studies. Additionally, students can declare a specialization in a variety of areas, such as public law, sports and entertainment law and commercial law. Available courses include ethics, civil practice, real estate law, economics and the legal system. Seniors must complete a capstone course as well.
Valencia College, based in Orlando, offers an associate degree program that is approved by the ABA. Undergraduates can choose from litigation or transactional specializations with courses in legal theory, civil litigation, bankruptcy, real property and estate administration. A capstone course is required. Students can also take electives in family law, computer applications and criminal evidence and procedures. The college has several articulated programs for students who plan to transfer to a university.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Paralegal Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)|
|Broward College||4-year, primarily associate's; public; midsize city||Associate in Science in Legal Assisting (Paralegal Studies)||$2,830 in-state; $8,952 out-of-state*|
|Florida State College at Jacksonville||4-year, primarily associate's; public; large city||Associate in Science in Paralegal Studies (Legal Assisting)||$2,878 in-state; $9,992 out-of-state*|
|Hillsborough Community College||2-year; public; large city|| Associate in Science in Legal Assisting,
Advanced Technical Certificate in Paralegal/Legal Assisting
|$2,506 in-state; $9,111 out-of-state*|
|Miami Dade College||4-year, primarily associate's; public; large city||Associate in Science in Paralegal Studies||$2,838 in-state; $9,661 out-of-state*|
|Nova Southeastern University||4-year; private, not-for-profit; large suburb|| Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies,
Paralegal Studies Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
|Palm Beach State College||4-year, primarily associate's; public; large suburb||Associate in Science - Paralegal||$2,444 in-state; $8,732 out-of-state*|
|Seminole State College of Florida||4-year, primarily associate's; public; large suburb||Associate in Science - Legal Assistant/Paralegal||$3,131 in-state; $11,456 out-of-state*|
|St. Petersburg College||4-year, primarily associate's; public; small city|| Associate in Science in Paralegal Studies,
Bachelor of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies,
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Paralegal Studies
|$2,682 in-state; $9,286 out-of-state*|
|University of Central Florida||4-year; public; large suburb|| Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies,
Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies
|$6,368 in-state; $22,467 out-of-state*|
|Valencia College||4-year, primarily associate's; public; midsize city||Associate in Science in Paralegal Studies||$2,474 in-state; $9,383 out-of-state*|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics.