From classroom to courthouse: Eastern Michigan University's Paralegal Program offers real-world experience

A gavel and scales of justice representing the legal industry.

YPSILANTI – According to the National Association of Legal Assistants, the legal industry is evolving rapidly, creating a greater need for well-trained paralegals. Eastern Michigan University's Paralegal Program meets this demand by offering students a comprehensive education, practical skills, and hands-on experience and is recognized as a key player in both academia and the economy.

One of Eastern’s unique features is the opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience through the Legal Internship course, LEGL 488L4. During this course, students can work at the Washtenaw County/EMU Legal Resource Center, situated within the Washtenaw County Courthouse. This experiential learning opportunity, led by EMU Professor Elizabeth Donovan, also a Legal Resource Center board member, sets the program apart.

“A hands-on experience like the legal internship in EMU's Paralegal Program is transformative for future paralegals,” said Donovan. “Students have the opportunity to assist patrons at the Legal Resource Center and delve into real-world legal scenarios, which provides insight and a remarkable foundation for a successful career.”

In this program, students engage with the academic curriculum and actively contribute to their community under the guidance of an attorney employed by Engage@EMU. During the internship, students assist members of the public in navigating the court system and guide various legal matters, including family issues, probate cases, and landlord-tenant disputes. This hands-on experience is a crucial component of the Paralegal Program, enabling students to gain practical insights into the legal field while positively impacting their local community.

“At the Legal Resource Center, I experienced the challenge and excitement of serving Washtenaw County patrons. I learned professionalism while guiding those who needed help navigating the court system,” said Zvy Ponce De Leon, former EMU student and Paralegal Program intern. “Now employed as a paralegal at Ford Motor Credit Company, I credit the skills gained at the Legal Resource Center and in the Paralegal Program with helping me transition readily into the workplace.”

Since Eastern’s paralegal program and internship focus on real-world experience, they ensure students are prepared to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation. Graduates of the program have secured positions in national, state, and local governments and law firms, where their expertise and skills are in high demand.

Moreover, many of the program's graduates pursue advanced degrees, such as law school, or engage in postgraduate studies related to the legal field, such as Human Resources, arbitration, and legal compliance. The program's versatility allows students to explore various paths within the legal realm, creating endless possibilities for their futures.

The program also makes a substantial economic contribution by supplying the workforce with well-prepared professionals who, in turn, benefit their employers and the community. It is also available during the fall, winter, and summer semesters. 

For more information about the Eastern Michigan University Paralegal Program, visit the landing page.

About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It serves more than 14,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

November 15, 2023

Written by:
Brittany Mobley

Media Contact:
Brittany Mobley