Paralegal Studies (Legal Assistant) Program2011-12 Program ReviewLast Review: 2006-07Current Year: 2011-12Preparers’ Names: R.J. Ruppenthal, Faculty MemberArea Dean: Dr. Jonathan KingSummary of the Department/Program (“Program”)1. Provide a brief summary of your program. Assume the reader does not know anything about it. Your explanation should include a brief history and a discussion of any factors that have been important to the program’s development. Please explain the purpose of your program, what students you serve, what services you provide, and why these services are valuable.The paralegal and legal assistant job field is one of the fastest growing careers in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in a report updatedin June 2011, employment for paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow “much faster than the average for all occupations.”1In explaining the job growth in this field, the BLS report includes the following information:Employers are trying to reduce costs and increase the availability and efficiency of legal servicesby hiring paralegals to perform tasks once done by lawyers. Paralegals are performing a wider variety of duties, making them more useful to businesses. Demand for paralegals also is expectedto grow as an expanding population increasingly requires legal services, especially in areas suchas intellectual property, healthcare, international law, elder issues, criminal law, and environmental law. The growth of prepaid legal plans also should contribute to the demand for legal services.In California, the job outlook for paralegals is strong also. According to the Employment Development Department (EDD) Occupational Guides, “the number of Paralegals and Legal Assistants is expected to grow much faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Paralegals and Legal Assistants are expected to increase by 19.4 percent, or 5,500 jobs between 2008 and 2018.”2TheEDD includes this job field on its list of the state’s fastest growing professions.3There is a particularly high demand for legal professionals in Silicon Valley, since many companies are based here and many law firms have local offices. The BLS estimates an average salary of $65,520 per year ($31.38 per hour) for paralegals and legal assistants in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA metropolitan area. This salary is far high than the national average, and in fact it placesthis region at #2 on BLS’ list of paralegal salaries for all metropolitan areas in the nation.4In 2000, in response to the growing demand for paralegals and perceived lack of training standards in the profession, California became the first state in the nation to regulate this job field. As a result of this legislation, both the “paralegal” and “legal assistant’ job titles are defined under 1 BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011, available at 2 EDD Summary Occupational Guide 2011, available at ?