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FAQs - Paralegal

What is a paralegal/legal assistant? Is there a difference between a paralegal and a legal assistant?

The terms “paralegal” and "legal assistant" are synonymous. The American Bar Association defines a paralegal and legal assistant as “a person qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental organization, or other entity who performs specifically delegated substantive work for which a lawyer is responsible.” Paralegals/legal assistants cannot engage in the actual practice of law by doing such activities as giving legal advice, setting fees, negotiating, or representing clients in court.

Where can paralegals work?

Paralegals work in virtually all areas of law, including but not limited to the following:  civil litigation, real estate, estate planning and probate, bankruptcy, family law, criminal law, corporate law, elder law, immigration law, administrative law, intellectual property, and employment law. 

Paralegals enjoy diverse employment opportunities.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, approximately 72 percent of paralegals work in law firms.  However, paralegals also can work in corporations with in-house counsel, insurance companies, lending institutions, mortgage companies, adoption agencies and non-profit institutions.


What duties do paralegals perform?

The duties attorneys delegate to paralegals vary greatly depending on the type of entity employer (law firm, government agency, corporation), its size and the nature of its practice. Some of the more common duties paralegals perform are: 

  • Helping attorneys prepare for closings, hearings, trials, and corporate meetings
  • Organizing and maintaining client files
  • Drafting legal documents and legal correspondence
  • Drafting pleadings and motions
  • Monitoring deadlines
  • Conducting factual research
  • Conducting legal research
  • Analyzing documents
  • Assisting at depositions
  • Assisting at trial
  • Conducting litigation support
  • Assisting with the planning of estates and probate matters
  • Acting as liaison with clients and others
What are the employment prospects and what is the earning potential for paralegals?

The paralegal/legal assistant profession is one of Broward County’s fastest growing occupations. The Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation anticipates an average of 151 new positions to open annually in Broward County alone. The projected 2016 employment figures show an impressive 4.5 percent growth in the profession. 

Nationally, paralegals/legal assistants can expect an 8 percent increase in employment opportunities from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average growth rate for all professions is 7 percent. As of May 2015, the annual mean salary for paralegals/legal assistants in Broward County was $48,540, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and WagesStarting salaries may be lower and salaries for very experienced paralegals may be higher than this mean average.
Are paralegals licensed?

At the current time there is no licensing of the paralegal profession in Florida.  There is voluntary certification that requires the passage of the Certified Paralegal (CP) Exam offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the passage of the Paralegal Advanced Competency (PACE) Exam offered by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA).

For more information, please see and 

Additionally, there is voluntary registration through The Florida Bar’s Florida Registered Paralegal Program.  The Florida Registered Paralegal (FRP) Program became effective March 1, 2008.  One may become an FRP by meeting the qualifying criteria for one of two categories: 
1) Education and work experience, or
2) Certification through NALA or NFPA
For more information pertaining to The Florida Bar’s Florida Registered Paralegal Program, please go to
Note that both certification and registration are voluntary, although some prospective employers may indicate either or both as a condition of employment with a particular firm. 
Broward College’s Paralegal Studies Program is ABA-approved. What does this mean?

An ABA-approved program is one that meets the standards and guidelines set forth by the American Bar Association (ABA) for quality paralegal education. This is a voluntary process and ABA approval is accomplished through an intensive review and on-site evaluation of a paralegal program. Once approved, ABA-approved programs go through a re-approval process every seven years. 

When and where are paralegal studies courses offered at Broward College?

The Paralegal Studies Program is offered on Broward College’s North Campus in Coconut Creek, Florida and on its South Campus in Pembroke Pines, Florida.  Courses are offered in the evening and are offered every semester (Fall, Winter/Spring, and Summer).

How do I apply to the program?

The first step is to apply to Broward College via Follow the instructions to apply and all the steps thereafter.  Then contact a program advisor.  The program advisor on North Campus is George Ortega.  His email address is and his telephone number is 954-201-2015.  The program advisor on South Campus is Nicole Holoboff.  Her email address is and her telephone number is 954-201-8111.

Are internships available?

Broward College offers legal assisting internships as a three-credit course, PLA 2940 Paralegal Practicum. This is an elective course and is designed to give a student the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills developed in the required courses to actual work experience in a legal environment.  It is essentially on-the-job training in which the student performs 144 hours of legal work under the supervision of an attorney.  The internship requires on the average nine to ten hours per week, although for some weeks, the student may spend more or less than that as long as the intern devotes a total of 144 hours to the internship throughout the semester. Participants in the internship should be near the completion of their Associate of Science degree.  In order to participate in an internship, the Program Manager’s approval is required.

How many total credits are required to complete the program? How many legal specialty courses are required? Are there specific graduation requirements?

 The Associate of Science (AS) in Paralegal Studies is a 64-credit program. There are twelve legal specialty courses (PLA courses) that are required.  Additionally, students can choose another legal specialty course from a menu of program electives.  The two legal specialty courses included in the menu of program electives are PLA 2930 Special Topics in Paralegal Studies and PLA 2940 Paralegal Practicum (Internship). To graduate with an AS in Paralegal Studies, students must complete all course work with a grade of “C” or higher.  At least 25 percent of the AS in Paralegal Studies must be earned at Broward College, of which 12 credit hours must comprise Broward College legal specialty courses.



Is the Paralegal Studies Program offered online?

ABA guidelines prohibit an ABA-approved program from being offered exclusively online.  At the current time, no PLA courses are offered online.

How long does it take to complete the program?

The length of time it takes to complete the program is based on the number of courses a student takes per semester.

What is the cost of the program?
The cost of the program is based on the number of credits taken each semester.  The costs differ for Florida residents and non-residents. See the Financial Aid section for more cost information.

How much do textbooks cost?
Textbook costs vary by course.  All required textbooks may be purchased at the Broward College bookstore located on the campus at which the course is scheduled to be taught.
Is financial aid available?

For information regarding financial aid, please contact the Financial Aid office at 954-201-8846.

Is a certificate awarded upon completion of the program?

No.  The Paralegal Studies Program is not a certificate program.  An Associate of Science degree is awarded upon completion of the program.

Is class credit awarded for paralegal work experience?

No class credit is awarded for paralegal work experience.

Can I take an exam to test out of a legal specialty course?

No class credit is awarded by exam for legal specialty courses.

If I have college credits or a degree from another academic institution, how do I find out which, if any, of these credits are transferable into the program?

The first step is to obtain a copy of any transcripts and make an appointment to speak with an advisor for the program.  The program advisor on South Campus is Nicole Holoboff.  Her email address is and her telephone number is: 954-201-8111. The program advisor on North Campus is George Ortega.  His email address is and his telephone number is 954-201-2015. The program advisors consult with the relevant academic departments for a determination of course equivalencies.   


Broward College’s Paralegal Studies Program honors credits for courses taken at other institutions that are fully accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education that participate in the Florida statewide course numbering system and are judged by the appropriate common course designation and numbering system faculty task forces to be academically equivalent to legal specialty courses offered at Broward College.  All other legal specialty courses that are completed and transcripted from either an accredited institution or an ABA-approved program will be evaluated by the Program Manager for specific course equivalencies and how accepted credit will be applied toward specific degree requirements.

As part of this evaluation, the Program Manager may review course syllabi, textbooks, catalog descriptions and other documentation.  It is the responsibility of the student to provide all requested materials promptly.  Additionally, the Program Manager may request to interview the student to obtain any additional information that will assist in making an evaluation.
Can Broward College assist me in finding a job?

Broward College’s Career Centers assist with résumés, cover letters, and interviewing skills. Career Centers also post paralegal job announcements.

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