Become a Paralegal in Michigan

On employment search engines such as Monster and Indeed, jobs for paralegals can be found in the offices of prosecuting attorneys, as well as in litigation defense, banks, the U.S. military, major corporations and beyond. With the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicting an 18 percent overall increase in the demand for paralegals and legal assistants between 2010 and 2020, entering the legal profession or increasing your skills in this field is a promising strategy in an ailing economy.

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As of 2012, the annual mean wage for paralegals and legal assistants in Michigan was $49,250, with an hourly mean wage of $23.68. Paralegals in prime positions can make as much as $72,110 per year; and, even part-time paralegals can earn $30,000, giving individuals juggling family responsibilities the opportunity to earn a significant income without working full-time hours.

Paralegal Certification

Paralegal certification is not required in the state of Michigan. The State Bar of Michigan (SBM) provides resources for paralegals; information and news regarding conduct, laws and membership can be found in the paralegal/assistant section of their website.

Where to Earn Your Paralegal Certificate or Degree in Michigan

Paralegal Certificates

  • Lansing Community College

    Lansing Community College is a two-year public institution. Its post-baccalaureate certificate in paralegal studies requires 33 credit hours to complete and includes an internship as well as an optional law clinic that allows students to practice their skills in an office environment. This program emphasizes acquiring practical skills such as preparing legal documents, performing research and working as team members, along with developing students’ abilities in critical thinking, analysis and understanding legal theory. The college is only two blocks from the state capital building and close to government offices, giving students abundant opportunities to see the legal system at work.

    • Estimated Program Cost*: $2,739 for district residents; $5,478 for out-of-district state residents; $8,217 for out-of-state students; $9,603 for international students (based on 2013 per billing hour tuition; more information is available at the college’s tuition and fees webpage)
    • Requirements: Bachelor’s degree
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Legal Research
    • Legal Writing
    • Business Law I, Basic Principles
    • Commercial Law
    • Tort Law
  • Oakland University

    Located in Rochester, Oakland University offers a paralegal certificate program via evening and Saturday classes. While this program, consisting of 34 continuing education credits, can be completed in a year of full-time study (three 12-week terms), working students may take up to five years to complete it. Students benefit from the real-world experience of an internship and the program maintains an ongoing job referral service for students and graduates. In addition to earning a generalized certificate, students can pursue a legal specialty certificate in litigation, business or probate administration.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $13,150 for state residents; $29,011 for out-of-state students (based on 2013-2014 per credit hour tuition)
    • Prerequisites: A minimum of 45 semester hours or 60 quarter hours at a college or university; students who do not meet this requirement may be admitted if they have significant work experience in a legal setting.
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Introduction to the Law and Legal System
    • Substantive Law – Contracts
    • Substantive Law – Torts
    • Ethics and Law Practice Management
    • Legal Research and Writing I & II
    • Computer Aided Legal Research (CALR)

Paralegal Associate Degrees

  • Baker College

    Baker College‘s Associate of Business paralegal degree is available on several of this school’s campuses, including those in Allen Park, Auburn Hills, Clinton Township, Jackson and Muskegon. As part of the Baker College Smart Degree Program, this program is a prelude to a Bachelor of Business Administration in management. This relatively affordable programs allows students to learn research and writing skills, document preparation, interview techniques, interrogatory response and technical skills that enable them to assist attorneys whether they join law firms or chose to work in the corporate or government environments where paralegal skills are in high demand.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $20,925 (based on 2013-2014 per quarter hour tuition)
    • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED; students may also be admitted on the basis of test scores
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Fundamentals of Accounting
    • Law, Legal Profession, & Terminology
    • Legal Writing, Research, & Analysis I, II & II
    • Torts
    • Contract Law
    • American Political Systems
  • Ferris State University

    Located in Big Rapids, Ferris State University‘s (FSU) offers an Associate in Arts in pre-law through which students can acquire a liberal arts education, while gaining a basic understanding of the law and the legal process. Although this program is geared toward students who are planning on entering law school, it also provides a valuable foundation for paralegals.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $21,900 for state residents; $32,880 for out-of-state students; $35,160 for international students (based on 2013-2014 semester credit hours)
    • Prerequisites: High school diploma and the demonstration of academic preparedness, maturity and seriousness of purpose; transfer students must have at least 12 credits at the time of application with a minimum 2.0 GPA
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Principles of Accounting
    • Introduction to Logic
    • Law in the United States 1 & 2
    • American Government – People & Politics

Paralegal Bachelor’s Degrees

  • Grand Valley State University

    Both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in legal studies are available at Grand Valley State University (GVSU), a four-year public institution in Grand Rapids that has been repeatedly named one of the nation’s “100 Best College Buys.” These programs are designed to provide a comprehensive liberal arts education while preparing students to assist attorneys or continue their studies in graduate or law school. Students interested in going to law school can take advantage of the school’s LEAP program, an accelerated course of study that allows students to complete their undergraduate coursework in three years before studying law at Michigan State University.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $53,630 for state residents; $76,975 for out-of-state students (based on 2013-2014 per credit hour tuition)
    • Prerequisites: High school diploma (exceptions apply); ACT or SAT scores
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Introduction to Law
    • Property & Probate Law
    • Factual Investigation
    • Legal Thought
    • Commercial Law
  • Madonna University

    Madonna University is a private Catholic institution located in Livonia, only a 15-minute drive from Dearborne, 20 miles from Detroit and an easy commute from Ann Arbor. It offers a Bachelor of Science in paralegal studies with small class sizes and evening and weekend courses. The faculty is comprised of practicing attorneys and paralegals, and students can select from a wide range of paralegal elective courses that allow them to focus on specific areas of law that interest them.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $64,800 (based on 2013-2014 per credit hour tuition)
    • Prerequisites: High diploma or GED; 2.75 GPA or ACT composite score 20 or above
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Introduction to Paralegal Studies
    • Legal Research on the Internet
    • Litigation
    • Legal Seminar
    • Legal Research & Writing II
    • Law Office Economics & Technology

Additional Paralegal Educational Programs

Professional Organizations

  • The State Bar of Michigan (SBM) oversees attorneys in Michigan and has a vested interest in keeping paralegals informed and connected. Paralegals can become affiliate members of the SBM and and can access numerous resources on the paralegal section of its website.
  • The Great Lakes Paralegal Association (GLPA) is dedicated to mentoring, networking, providing continuing legal education (CLE) and promoting the paralegal profession as well as national certification. Members receive discounted rates on GLPA programs and have access to networking opportunities.
  • NALS of Michigan is a state branch of one of the oldest legal assistant/paralegal associations in the nation, the National Association of Legal Assistants. Members can take advantage of networking and continuing education opportunities.