Clarion University has expanded its American Bar Association-approved paralegal opportunities, opening the program as a concentration for students pursuing the Bachelor of Science in integrative studies. Previously the program was available only as a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration-paralegal studies.
"Clarion University has had a superb business-based paralegal program for a number of years. It is accredited by both the most prestigious business accreditation standard in the world, AACSB, and the most rigorous legal approval, the American Bar Association, both of which are the strongest possible statements of academic quality achievable, said Dr. Frank Shepard, director of the program. He noted that program graduates are employed in challenging positions and have attended law schools throughout the United States.
"At the same time we were always cognizant of the fact that many students seeking to bring justice to the world wish to do so in a realm other than business," he said.
Graduates of the BSBA in paralegal studies develop expertise in the business field and also become paralegals, whereas graduates of the BS in integrative studies-paralegal studies learn from an arts and sciences perspective and are academically prepared for a legal career not centered in the business world.
"My undergraduate degree is in political science and my first graduate degree is in history. This provided a sense that our students need courses in history, political science and philosophy to understand where we are and where we need to go to advance our quest for justice," Shepard said. "Not every student seeking a career in the law needs to understand advanced mathematics, accounting and finance, but many do. That is why we now offer both."
The integrative studies program has 21 credits of free electives, allowing students to tailor their degree to their passions. A dual major is one possibility, as is selecting a range of classes to meet particular goals. Jobs are available for paralegals in the military, law offices, corporate legal departments, advocacy groups and benevolent associations, according to Shepard.
"There is no area of our society that is not touched by law, so the possibilities are endless," he said.
The Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that growth in paralegal positions will continue to grow much faster than average through at least 2028. At a 12 percent growth rate, this makes paralegal studies one of the most in-demand majors.
The BSBA in paralegal studies recently was ranked first in the nation for job placement, and Shepard expects graduates of the BS in integrative studies program to enjoy the same marketability.
"Accreditations and approvals are of vital importance to our students. Our graduates are employed in regions of the United States that may never have heard of Clarion University, but they most assuredly have heard of the American Bar Association and AACSB," Shepard said. "The exacting standards of AACSB and ABA speak volumes to potential employers about the quality of our institution and the quality of our graduates."
Both programs, as well as the Advanced Paralegal Certificate, are offered at the Clarion campus. Clarion law classes are taught by experienced attorneys.