Since launching in 2011, the paralegal program offered through Liberty University has experienced three-fold growth, from just under 300 students to 941 currently enrolled.
“The program is growing fast, and the word is getting out that Liberty University’s paralegal program is, bar none, one of the best ones out there,” said Matt Barber, associate dean for online programs for Liberty University School of Law. “People are getting excited about it and we are as well.”
Barber said corporations are interested in hiring paralegals who are versatile and trained in various areas of law, a background that Liberty's online curriculum provides.
“While they are not practicing law, paralegals are able to interpret various aspects of law that people without a paralegal degree would not be able to provide or would have difficulty understanding,” he said.
Demand for paralegal professionals continues to increase, making a degree in the field from Liberty extremely marketable.
“It’s definitely a growing field for paralegals, especially in a tough job market, because they can do a lot of the heavy lifting for the attorneys,” said Suzanne Caruso, associate dean for career and professional development, residential professor at Liberty Law, and an online professor for the university’s Paralegal Studies program. “They can’t practice law, but they’re much more than a secretary. They work with attorneys and do a lot of the behind-the-scenes research, writing, and preparation.”
A month after attending Liberty’s graduation exercises in May, Alexa Smith began working as a legal secretary with an opportunity for promotion to a paralegal program at a personal injury firm in Pittsburgh, Pa.
“I sent my résumé to the firm and within 20 minutes they had an interview set up with me,” said Smith, who was offered and accepted the job the day after her interview. “During the interview, I learned that my résumé stood out as unique to them, and Liberty was a huge part of that. My interviewer, who was the firm’s case manager, was also a Christian. I can't help but think that God led me to that specific job advertisement, and for that I am blessed.”
Caruso emphasizes God’s Word and Christian principles in the Foundations of Law course she teaches for the paralegal program.
“The course helps paralegal students understand the founding era from a Christian perspective … and the law through the lens of a Christian worldview,” she said. “We are fostering a love for the original Law Giver, which is God Himself.”
Barber said students have appreciated this line of teaching.
“We have received feedback from a number of students who are very happy about the training that they’ve received,” he said. “Certainly, that is part of our curriculum, an emphasis on a Christian worldview and how that worldview applies to the legal field.”