Paralegal (PLGL 0100/0101/0104)


Phone: 703-993-2109

Fax: 703-993-2121

George Mason’s Paralegal Certificate is offered in collaboration with The Center for Legal Studies.

Employment for paralegals is projected to grow much faster than average, as employers try to reduce costs by hiring paralegals to perform tasks once done by lawyers*

*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Paralegals and Legal Assistants.

This intensive, nationally acclaimed program is designed for beginning as well as advanced legal workers. Students will be trained to assist trial attorneys, interview witnesses, investigate complex fact patterns, research the law, and assist in preparing cases for courtroom litigation. The instruction is practice-oriented and related to those areas of the law in which legal assistants are most in demand.

  • A total of 84 hours of instruction in a classroom.
  • Upon successful completion of the program you will receive a Certificate of Completion from George Mason University.
  • Research can be done at George Mason University's Law Library in Arlington.
  • This program will help students increase their office's efficiency, productivity, and billable hours as well as learn new marketable job skills.

Legal Terminology, Documents, Ethics, and the Litigation Process

This session focuses on the history of American jurisprudence, the theory of law, the legal process, and the nature of litigation. Discussion will cover pre-trial, trial, and post-trial procedures, as well as an in depth coverage of legal ethics. At the end of the first session of class, student will know how to prepare Complaint and Petition, Answer Third Party Complaint and Petition, and Motion for Summary Judgment.

Introduction to the Evidentiary Predicate

This session covers the rules of evidence and civil procedure. Basic interviewing and investigation techniques and the development and use of demonstrative evidence will also be explained. At the end of the second session, students will prepare discovery matter such as Interrogatories, Requests for Admission, and Requests for Production of Documents.

Identifying Relevant Authority

During this session students will learn how to identify relevant law and determine the differences between primary and secondary authority, and between mandatory and persuasive authority, and learn how to find and apply authority to hypothetical factual situations.

Introduction to Legal Research

Students will learn research techniques for use in legal memoranda, motions, and briefs. Primary and secondary source materials will be discussed, and a concise approach to legal research will be developed.

Legal Research Practice

Legal research skill will be applied in this session with emphasis on shepardizing statutory and case law and learning to use computerized legal search terminals. Numerous research assignments will be given, discussed, and critiqued. The West Key Number System® will be learned thoroughly.

Legal Writing and Appellate Procedure

This session will concentrate on the preparation and critique of legal memoranda, including an Interoffice Memorandum of Law and Appellate Brief. Principles of appellate procedure will also be reviewed. Proper citation format will be covered along with a discussion of job hunting techniques and job leads for those seeking their first employment as paralegals. Please visit for the course syllabi.

  • Students will be expected to complete a significant amount of homework for each session.
  • Students must successfully complete and pass all course requirements to be awarded a certificate.
  • Students must pass six quizzes and successfully complete five legal document-writing assignments. Assignments include, but are not limited to, creating an interoffice memo, preparing a cover and resume for instructor critique, drafting a motion, and preparing an answer to a complaint served to you by a fellow classmate.
  • Students cannot have more than two absences.

Textbooks: not included in course registration fee. Please visit for more information.

Westlaw: legal research access–fee not included in course registration. Please contact the Center for Legal Studies at 1-800-522-7737 or for information and Westlaw pricing.

Click here for continuing education financial aid information.

Please click here for a list of our instructors.

  • “This course was more than I expected. It was well worth the cost of the course.”
  • “This course covered a lot of information. Many of the topics discussed I have been able to apply in my current job.”
  • “Great course for people of any age or professional background.”
  • “A comprehensive overview of law through inquiry and debate that illuminated the subject matter and made for an engaging and rewarding classroom experience.”
  • “Great course- all course materials presented are relevant and I would recommend it to others.”
  • “This course exceeded my expectations. The instructor was very knowledgeable and shared very valuable information.”
  • “[This course] gave me an excellent introduction to the skills and knowledge needed to enter the profession.”
  • “It’s a fantastic way to learn the basics and essentials of paralegal work, especially if you’re not already in the law field but hope to transition that direction.”
  • “The instructor was interesting, knowledgeable and enjoyable! He showed an interest in all of our work, studies, etc. He is excellent at making this course a worthwhile experience.”

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