Auburn University Office of Professional and Continuing Education Interview

Auburn University

We recognized Auburn University for offering one of Top Entry-Level, Pre-Degree Paralegal Certificate Programs, adding them to our list of top recommendations for students in the area.

We were excited to hear from Kelly Ard, faculty member at Auburn University, who took the time to answer a few questions about how the school works to create a great student experience that helps prepare graduates for a career in the legal field.

Are you finding a lot of career changers in your program looking to get their start in the legal profession?

Kelly: Absolutely. We see a range of students looking to explore the legal profession from recent college graduates to seasoned professionals.

Paralegals are really getting the respect they deserve these days, and taking on more and more responsibilities on the job. How is this changing the approach to educating new paralegals?

Kelly: The paralegal field is a true profession that has evolved into a necessary, and vital, role within law firms and legal settings. Paralegals are necessary to all legal teams, including in-house corporate legal offices. Because of this, paralegals have a vast array of opportunities to explore. We must educate paralegals in a manner that lends itself to the flexible, ever-changing roles they will execute in the field. The paralegal role can swivel from drafting legal documents to interviewing witnesses, to preparing a slideshow for a trial, all in one week. We must take a dynamic approach to educating paralegals.

Does the program at your school include an internship and are faculty available to help students find one?

Kelly: While a formal internship is not provided as a part of this course, Auburn has reported to me that employers frequently call Auburn to inquire about the # of students in class and the completion date of current classes that are on-going and have recently graduated. The program developer at Auburn, encourages students to seek out local law offices before completing the course to see who may be interested in bringing on an intern or even a candidate for an entry level position upon completion of the program. While there is no formal system of Job placement offered through this course, Auburn faculty involved with the course are always happy to help students with questions about how this course can lead to excellent opportunities in the paralegal field, before, during or after the course has concluded.

What are some of the things you love most about the paralegal program at your school – the kind of things you’d like future students to know about as they consider their options?

Kelly: The paralegal field is a growing and viable profession that creates wonderful opportunities for students. Having the ability to learn a new trade in the legal profession, while working full-time, taking care of a family, or pursuing other education makes this program so exciting.

Check out our full interview series here to see what other professors and faculty are saying about their paralegal programs.