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Paralegal Program

TU’s paralegal program is one of four Oklahoma programs approved by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Paralegals and the only such program in the Tulsa area since 1999. The program works with the local legal community, employing top area legal professionals as instructors and offering internships at local law firms and organizations.

Our program views the paralegal field as a dynamic and modern profession — one that requires adaptability. In order to meet the changing needs of the legal field, we continually update and re-evaluate our curriculum. All courses are designed to prepare our paralegals to innovate and energize their field.

What is a paralegal?

ABA Definition of a “Paralegal”
According to the ABA’s House of Delegates, the current definition of a legal assistant or paralegal reads as follows:

A legal assistant or paralegal is a person, qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency, or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.

It is important to note, however, that paralegals cannot give legal advice, accept cases, set legal fees, represent clients in court or perform any legal service without the supervision of a licensed lawyer, and may not provide legal services directly to the public except as permitted by law.

Paralegal vs. Legal Assistant

Certification organizations such as the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) recognize both Certified Legal Assistants (CLAs) and Certified Paralegals (CPs) and hold the terms to be synonymous, differing in use by geographic location only.

Job Description

Becoming a paralegal requires a great deal more than excellent organizational skills and office diplomacy; it is no mere clerical career.  While being a paralegal can be both rewarding and stimulating, it can also be emotionally and intellectually demanding, requiring skilled and motivated individuals.

Duties

Duties include, but are not limited to:

  • Interviewing witnesses and clients
  • Investigating cases
  • Researching legal issues
  • Reviewing and organizing client files
  • Preparing legal documents
  • Assisting attorneys in court
  • Assisting in closings and trials
  • Handling other activities as directed by the supervising attorney

Skills

Becoming a paralegal requires a great deal more than excellent organizational skills and office diplomacy; it is no mere clerical career. While being a paralegal can be both rewarding and stimulating, it can also be emotionally and intellectually demanding, requiring skilled and motivated individuals.

Necessary skills include, but are not limited to:

  • Organizational Aptitude
  • Communication Skills
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Technological Savvy
  • Ethical Knowledge
  • Analytical Ability

Who Hires Paralegals?

Because of the nearly all-inclusive nature of a paralegal’s training, paralegals and
legal assistants increasingly assume a variety of roles in a multitude of fields, in
nearly any organization with a legal department. These include:

  • Law firms and sole practitioners
  • Corporations
  • Insurance companies
  • Banks and trust companies
  • Labor unions
  • State and federal courts
  • Government agencies

Compensation

Earnings vary considerably depending upon factors such as: the size of the community; the geographic allocation; the size of the firm; the nature of the legal practice; and the paralegal’s educational and professional experience.