Paralegal program hosts open house

Matt Harwood



The Petrocelli College of Continuing Studies recently held an open house for its paralegal studies program.

On Feb. 23, Room 103 in Danforth Hall on the Florham Campus was packed with over 30 interested students, all eagerly learning about the benefits and structure of the program.

Rita De Lillo, associate director for both paralegal studies and Petrocelli College, led the event, elaborating on how the program works and its overall objectives.

The paralegal studies program at Fairleigh Dickinson University has been running since 1988, first receiving approval by the American Bar Association in 1990.

De Lillo explained that the program runs in two ways: a six-month day program, with classes hosted Monday through Thursday, and a 12-month evening program in which students only take two classes – one on Tuesday and the other on Thursday.

The location of the courses rotates each semester among three campuses: Florham, Teaneck and Eatontown MCGC (Monmouth County Graduate Center).

De Lillo also explained that the program’s coursework is designed “to prepare students for a smooth transition from the classroom to the office of any of the various legal settings.” Examples of such courses are: Civil Litigation, Criminal Law, Family Law and Legal Research and Writing, along with other legal specialty courses that help students maximize their paralegal studies experience.

Professor Ira Decker spoke about his experiences practicing law and how he balances it with his love of teaching. He explained that “the role of the program is to make you marketable paralegals… you want to be employed as a paralegal.”

Decker also said that because of the rapport his students have built with him, he has hired two former FDU paralegal students. Furthermore, a number of interns in the program who have taken his class have come through his law firm and have utilized that experience to find jobs at other law firms.

Decker said that the paralegal program is good for those who “are either just coming into the job force, getting back into the job force, or those who have jobs but wish to move on to something better,” adding that the program “grants that opportunity to succeed and build up your experience.”

Professor Andrew Turkish followed Decker by giving more technical information. Turkish explained that “one of the books we use is an actual legal book that lawyers use early on in their career. … In this program we teach both ends of the aisle, the theory, your mindset, thinking like a paralegal, as well as the practical side, the form and what you do out in the real world.”

Graduates who complete the paralegal studies program receive certification to work as certified paralegals.

The open house concluded with a round of applause and the attendees eagerly talked about their newfound information. They also spoke with some of the other professors in the program, who stayed for a few extra minutes to answer any questions.

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