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Paralegal Degrees


Start your legal career at Southwestern Michigan College and save up to 50% on your degree!

A paralegal degree from SMC can prepare you to work as a paralegal or to transfer to earn a bachelor’s degree in any law-related field, including those that lead to law school.

Whether you want to be a paralegal or, eventually, a lawyer or a judge, our paralegal degree programs can get you there.

About Paralegals and
Paralegal Studies

Paralegals perform essential functions for attorneys. They may draft wills, collect documents, prepare petitions, review clients’ records and more. They often work in large law firms, but may also be hired by solo attorneys. They can also work as insurance claims adjusters or in corporate compliance. The State of Michigan has identified paralegal as a high-wage, high-demand “hot job” of the future.

A paralegal degree can also be used as a stepping stone to enter law school. In fact, students who study paralegal are often more prepared for law school because they have more direct experience with law than, for example, someone entering law school with a political science degree.

A paralegal degree can be a great introduction to the legal field for those who are considering a career in law. It can also be a career boost for those currently working as legal assistants or in related fields.

About the Paralegal Degree at SMC

Southwestern Michigan College offers two paralegal degrees: the Associate in Applied Science and the Associate in Arts.

Associate in Applied Science

The Associate in Applied Science is a two-year degree for those who want to work as a paralegal. After an introduction to the legal system, the paralegal field, legal research and ethics, students learn the “Big 3” fields of law: estate planning, bankruptcy and litigation, including personal injury. Students’ education is capped with practical experience applying what they’ve learned in the classroom in an internship. Students are qualified to enter the workforce immediately after graduation.

Licensing is generally not required for employment as a paralegal, but students are encouraged to seek national certification through the Paralegal Core Competency Exam as an extra credential for professional development.

Associate in Arts

The Associate in Arts is for those who want to go to law school or who want to work as a paralegal in a specialized field of law. It is designed to transfer to four-year institutions for a bachelor’s degree in paralegal. A bachelor’s degree is not required for employment, but it introduces students to fields of law not covered in the two-year degree such as tax law, family law and intellectual property law. A bachelor’s degree in paralegal can also be used to enter law school.

The Associate in Arts in paralegal is designed to meet Michigan Transfer Agreement (MTA) requirements so you can transfer seamlessly to Michigan universities. It may also transfer to universities in other states.

Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public except as permitted by law.

Career Options & Salaries
Paralegal:           $50,940
Judges and Hearing Officers:           $117,190
Lawyers:           $120,910
Arbitrators, Mediators and Conciliators:           $62,270
2018 median pay. Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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