Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Fairmont State's Lewis County Center will begin offering an Associate of Applied Science degree in Paralegal Studies starting this month.

Jennifer Weist, Fairmont State Community & Technical College Director of Academic and Community Support, said that in two years the new academic program will be eligible to be certified by the American Bar Association.

Weist said FSC&TC chose to launch the program at the Lewis County Center because research has shown that Central West Virginia has a higher need for paralegals and the growth in the paralegal job market is expected to continue in this area for the next several years.

The last day to register for the paralegal studies program for the spring 2006 semester is Monday, Jan. 23. For more information or to register, call the Lewis County Center at (304) 269-6389 or e-mail jhawkins1@fairmontstate.edu.

Weist said FSC&TC staff consulted several practicing lawyers in developing the curriculum for the new program. The core curriculum for the two-year degree includes three writing courses as well as a science and a math class and elective course offerings that include business law, criminal law and procedure and domestic, property and probate and bankruptcy law. The plan is to offer all of the courses in the evening.

"We received a lot of good input from lawyers we consulted," Weist said. "Paralegals do a lot of correspondence work, a lot of research and a lot of preparation work for lawyers. Lawyers feel that paralegals need to have a basic understanding of law and to know how law offices work."

The new Associate of Applied Science degree will be offered at the Gaston Caperton Center in Clarksburg this fall as part of the Weekend College program.

The Weekend College program allows adult students to earn degrees by attending classes on Saturdays on the main campus in Fairmont and at the Gaston Caperton Center in Clarksburg. Accelerated eight-week sessions allow students to concentrate on fewer courses at one time but still maintain full-time student status.

The following programs are available through the Weekend College program: Associate of Arts in General Studies, Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice, Associate of Applied Science in Business Technology with specializations in Accounting and General Business, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a specialization in General Business. For more information on Weekend College, call Jennifer Weist at (304)-367-4503.

"Lots of adults consider the Weekend College to be a good alternative for them," Weist said.