Eastern Michigan University’s paralegal studies degree program and Washtenaw Community College finalized an agreement on Oct. 23 that will allow WCC students to directly transfer into EMU’s paralegal studies program.
The university said this will prevent duplication of classes and hopefully save students money.
Nancy Caine Harbour, EMU’s Paralegal Program Coordinator said EMU wants to draw in the huge pool of students that WCC has, and the new program will be faster and cheaper for students.
“It's a great win, win for both institutions,” Harbour said. “We have to be smarter in the future. We have to look at the cost.”
Harbour said she expects there to be more growth in paralegal jobs in the near future than actual careers as full lawyers.
Recently, the job pool for students graduating with paralegal studies degrees has shrunk, while the cost of those degrees has steadily increased.
“The enrollment in law schools has dropped significantly,” Harbour said. “You can see that just in our own back yard with the closure of Cooley's Ann Arbor's school. And most analysts say that going to law school is a bad deal these days. You come out with so much debt.”
According to an article by the American Bar Association, the average amount of law student debt is now more than $100,000. They said law students took loans of over $4 billion. This is not good when the bar themselves said that the economy would create one job for every two graduates, among other problems.
A paralegal degree costs less, is more likely to get you a job in the real world and allows you to enter the law field under the supervision of an attorney.
Paralegal studies students at EMU often find internships in EMU’s legal resources center at the Washtenaw County Courthouse.
This unique program allows students to gain experience at a real courthouse and allows them to build a good reputation in Washtenaw County. The LRC is run by students, and helps residents in Washtenaw county navigate family, probate, landlord/tenant and small claims law.
To sign up for the program you have to declare your major as a paralegal intent.
“The program has been growing a lot in that respect,” Harbour said. “As an awful lot of the arts & science students realize that in law poli sci is not the only track.”