If you or someone in your life has some uncertainty about the next step in their career or professional development, perhaps it’s time to consider a career as a paralegal.
As U.S. News noted, “behind every great lawyer is a great paralegal”, and paralegals are currently experiencing a major uptick in demand. For a number of reasons, a career as a paralegal is something a lot of people should and will consider.
While potential paralegals will need to complete a base program, Columbus State University offers one of the nation’s most comprehensive and flexible Advanced Paralegal programs.
For those already working as paralegals or those wishing to maximize their employability, the program at Columbus State University is a first-rate way to diversify and improve their skillset within the profession.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about the Advanced Paralegal Program at Columbus State University.
Columbus State University Overview
Founded in 1958 and located in Columbus, GA, Columbus State University has an undergraduate enrollment of just under 7,000 students.
Based on a survey conducted by U.S. News, Columbus State University ranks 106th among Regional Universities South, and 45th among public schools.
In state tuition fees are $7200 as of 2017-18 for in-state students, and almost $21,000 for out of state students.
The college is a vibrant part of the smallish city, running an expansive 132 acres.
As part of their curriculum, Columbus State University offers a number of Advanced Certificate and Continuing Education programs to assist in further professional development.
One of their most popular programs is their Advanced Paralegal Program, which is will be discussed in detail below.
What is a Paralegal?
A paralegal can be seen as the strong arm of an attorney, as paralegals perform a wide array of functions to support lawyers.
These functions can include filling motion, filling out preparatory paperwork, and summarizing legal precedents – really anything and everything an attorney needs to do their job. The more versatile and well-The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the paralegal, the better the attorney can perform her or his job.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offers a few insights and numbers relating to paralegals:
- The industry has an expected employment growth of 15% for paralegals from 2016 to 2026, which will add 41,800 positions
- Paralegals in the U.S. in 2016 made a median salary of $49,500, with the top 25% of paralegals making over $63,000
- The median salary in 2017 bumped to $50,410, or $24.24 per hour
- Overall, this growth rate is well above average for professions within the U.S.
- Paralegals have been proven to improve efficiency and reduce costs for law firms, so hard data will also compel legal firms to continue this hiring wave
If a person has interest or aptitude in the law but is undecided or unable to attend law school, becoming a paralegal can be a very appealing alternative.
While a paralegal does not need a particular certification or line of education, nationally recognized certificate programs such as the Advanced Program offered through Columbus State University certainly don’t damage a person’s employability.
Why Become a Paralegal?
As with most certificate programs, the two primary benefits of a certificate versus a degree program are the sum cost and the time of completion.
A good certificate program can churn out qualified professionals within 4-6 months’ time, a much quicker timetable than most degree programs – many of which require 2-4 years or more to complete.
Additionally, certificate programs cost a fraction of what degree programs tend to cost.
To use Columbus State University as an example, a year of tuition in an undergraduate program is almost $7000 for an in-state student, while the entire Advanced Paralegal Certificate will require $1800-$2100 in tuition fees.
Cost is always a factor in making career decisions, and those looking to enhance or diversify their career skills need to strongly consider the debt they will potentially accrue attending a traditional degree program.
And not to further pile on higher education, but certificate programs such as the Advanced Paralegal Program at Columbus State University are intended to launch people directly into the working world, again at a much lower investment cost.
While higher education certainly has its benefits – one of which is likely more money in the long run – if a person is unsure about their career track or wants to get to work more immediately, certificate programs such as certified paralegal can make a lot of sense.
Columbus State University Advanced Paralegal Certificate
To begin, the Advanced Paralegal Certificate Program at Columbus State University consists of over a dozen advanced law courses that can be taken online or on campus.
To obtain the Advanced Paralegal Certificate, a student needs to complete six APC topics from the selection.
Here are some of the topics offered by Columbus State University:
- Advanced Legal Research
- Bankruptcy Law
- Constitutional Law
- Criminal Law
- Estate Planning
- Family Law
- Real Property Law
- Water Law
Students can pick and choose which topics interest them the most or best suit their professional needs in order to customize their certification. A student’s unique combination of course study will likely distinguish her or him from most other candidate applying for a particular paralegal job.
The topics offered by Columbus State University are meant to be used in addendum to the contact the university, which is collectively offered by over 100 colleges across the United States. This will be discussed at greater length below.
To enroll in the APC program at Columbus State University, a person needs to first complete the aforementioned Paralegal Certificate Course. Details on admission to that course will also be provided below.
What Comes Next
Once admitted, students will need to complete six Advanced Topics online over a seven-week period. Columbus State University allows their students to take these courses in any order, on their own timeline and within the framework of their personal schedule.
Each of these Advanced Topics merits 3 CEUs (Continuing Education Units), with a total of 27 CEUs necessary for course completion.
The entire process can be completed electronically, with no need for a student to ever step on campus. Students add Advanced Topics to their Cart at a cost of $300-$350 per Topic, while CSU suggests corresponding textbooks to each course.
As an example, a student might want to take “Estate Planning: Wills, Trusts, and Probate”. The course runs for six weeks at a cost of $300.
The required textbook for the Estate Planning Topic is Introduction to Estate Planning in a Nutshell, which is available through the university at a fair price.
Students can likely save some money in textbook cost by purchasing from third-party sites such as eBay, Amazon, or textbooks.com, but CSU does offer a lot of convenience by allowing student to purchase textbooks in one fell swoop along with their chose Topics.
While the Advanced Paralegal Certificate program is part of the national Paralegal Certificate Course program, it’s also part of the Columbus State University Continuing Education program.
Individuals who want to learn more about the Continuing Education and Professional Development programs at CSU can contact the university for more information.
What is the Paralegal Certificate Course?
The Center for Legal Studies oversees a national program called the the Center for Legal Studies. Within the legal world, this certificate is widely recognized and greatly preferred by hiring managers.
In fact, it would not be a stretch to say that a prospective paralegal is doing her or himself a professional disservice by not obtaining this particular certificate. It’s that highly regarded within the legal community.
Columbus State University is one of over 100 schools that participate in the Paralegal Certificate Course program. While CSU focuses on Advanced Topics that enhance the standard Paralegal Certificate, potential students have an almost unmatched number of options for completing the standard certificate.
A few of the colleges that participate in the Paralegal Certificate Course program include:
- University of Alaska – Fairbanks
- California State University – Long Beach
- Florida Gulf Coast University
- University of Michigan – Flint
- Winston-Salem State University
As you can see, this is a truly national program, and the schools within the program offer a diverse array of options to allow busy parents or professionals to complete the certificate in a timely manner.
The Paralegal Certificate Course program is overseen by the Center for Legal Studies, a group based out of Evergreen, Colorado.
The Center for Legal Studies is Better Business Bureau (BBB) accredited with an A+ rating. This is as legitimate as an institution can get.
Interested parties can contact the Center for Legal Studies at [email protected] for additional information.
Is Paralegal the Right Career Path for You?
If you’ve read through this article, it’s likely that you’re a professional considering a career change, or a student with a bit of uncertainty about the next step in their professional development.
Paralegal, for many of the reasons explained above, is one of the fastest growing industries within the United States. For a number of reasons, the world is growing increasingly more litigious, and with this demand for legal counsel is an increased demand for paralegal career support staff.
In conjunction with the Center for Legal Studies and the Paralegal Certificate Course program, Columbus State University offers an exceptional, flexible number of options for advanced paralegal career preparation.
Potential students can apply confidently to the Columbus State University Advanced Paralegal Program knowing that their investment cost will go toward first-rate career preparation in a rapidly growing industry.