Wednesday, August 13, 2008

ABA Approves New Paralegal Baccalaureate Degree for Clayton State

Clayton State University is adding another new baccalaureate degree, this time in a discipline where the University’s College of Professional Studies (CPS) has already established a significant record of success.

For the past decade, the Paralegal Studies programs, which included both a certificate program and an associate’s degree program, have been a shining star in first the Clayton State School of Technology and now the College of Professional Studies. On Wednesday, June 11, 2008, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG) approved Clayton State’s proposal to add a Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies to the University’s existing American Bar Association (ABA)-approved associates (A.A.S.) degree program. Following the Regents’ approval, the ABA recently gave its approval for the new program, notes Matthew S. Cornick, J.D., assistant professor and program coordinator of the Paralegal Studies program.

“We are ready to start admitting students into the B.S. program immediately,” he says. “We're the only ABA-approved program in the city and one of the few schools in the country with certificate, A.A.S. and B.S. programs. And, with the HOPE Scholarship, this is a good field for field changers -- a lot of folks do this. It's the best deal in town.”

The B.S. degree is significantly more advanced than the on-going associate/certificate programs. However, the undergraduate degree has much significance to past and present students in Clayton State’s A.A.S. program.

“The majority of our B.S. students will come from our current A.A.S. students who are looking for the opportunity to continue their education,” says Cornick. “Employers in the field want employees with a bachelor’s degree. That's more and more the trend.”

Cornick also points out that the associates degree previously only led to a Bachelors of Applied Science in Administrative Management. Now, with the B.S. option available, a lot more doors will be opened, due in part to a rigorous curriculum written into the B.S. degree proposal by Assistant Professor of Paralegal Studies Mara Mooney, J.D.

“Mara Mooney essentially wrote the entire proposal for the USG. It was reviewed by myself and Associate Dean Dr. Benita Moore, but Mara deserves the lion's share of the credit,” says Cornick. “We re-mapped the curriculum for all of our programs… they bear almost no similarity to the old curriculum. However, the bachelor’s is an extension of what we're already doing in the certificate and associate’s programs.

“We're really pleased that the general education courses contain a lot of English and history, a lot of sophisticated writing and reading. Communications skills at the highest possible level are needed. The degree serves a purpose and the requirements aren't easy. The students who take the program will earn their degree, and they'll be very well prepared.”

“We are proud to add this new degree to our existing array of certificate, associate, bachelor and graduate degrees that provide professional education and training for the region,” says Dr. Rodger Bates, dean of the College of Professional Studies.

The new B.S. degree may cap the paralegal program at Clayton State, however Cornick points out that the certificate program, which is only available to students with at least two full years of college credit, is supported by the HOPE Grant, and presents another strong option for potential paralegals.

“Most of our certificate students are able to attend practically for free. If someone already has his/her degree, the certificate program is an ideal option,” he says.

For further information on Clayton State’s Paralegal Studies program, contact Cornick at mattcornick@clayton.edu.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.
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