Paralegal Studies: Bilingual

School of Business and Technology

Dean: Mink Stavenga, DBA

Department Chair: Elisabeth Shapiro, Esq., J.D., M.A.L.D

Office: 35-119, (619) 482-6582

School/Department Location:


General Description

The paralegal (legal assistant) works under the supervision of an attorney. Responsibilities are broad and varied including preparing and interpreting legal documents, interviewing clients, performing legal research, preparing for trial, and organizing and managing documentation. Paralegals often work with attorneys in specialized areas of law such as immigration, family law, personal injury, contracts, wills, trusts, and probate.

Southwestern College offers two programs, paralegal studies and paralegal studies—bilingual, which provide students with a litigation background and focus on developing an awareness and sensibility to the language, culture, and common legal issues of clients from various ethnic groups within the community. An understanding of international legal issues which impact San Diego due to its geographical location, and other legal and business related activities are also developed.

Employment in the field tends to vary. Larger, well-established law firms commonly require a bachelor’s degree, and smaller law firms and legal agencies often require a two-year associate degree or its equivalent. Potential employees who have an advanced education level, knowledge of a frequently used foreign language, and/or an emphasis in a legal specialty will have the greatest opportunities in the job market.

Career Options

Below is a sample of the career options available for the paralegal studies major. A few require a certificate of achievement, some require an associate in science degree, and some require a bachelor’s degree: claims examiner, compensation and benefits manager, corporate legal assistant, court clerk, customs agent, forms and procedures specialist, freelance paralegal, legal assistant, investigator (for local, state, and federal departments and agencies), legal aide, legal research assistant, legal technician, and title examiner. This training can also provide entrance to some careers in administration of justice such as youth authority, probation, and parole officer when a candidate passes appropriate tests and gains related experience.

Degree/Certificate Options Major Code
Associate in Science Degree: Career/Technical
Paralegal Studies: Bilingual (English/Spanish) A2517
Certificate of Achievement
Paralegal Studies: Bilingual (English/Spanish) A2519

Consult with a counselor to develop a Student Education Plan (SEP), which lists the courses necessary to achieve your academic goals.


Elisabeth Shapiro, Esq. J.D., M.A.L.D.