Frequently Asked Questions
When does the program begin?
Students are grouped together with start dates several times a year, timed to the ALP Exam. You should contact us to determine when the next opportunity will be to start the program.
What are the prerequisites for the program?
The minimum prerequisite is a high school diploma but either (a) an associate's degree and two years of administrative experience or (b) four years of administrative experience are a plus for those seeking to enter the legal field as a legal secretary/lawyer's assistant. (For seniors in high school this requirement may be waived with a letter of recommendation from the school guidance counselor.)
Is a Lawyer's Assistant the same as a Legal Assistant or a Paralegal?
No. A lawyer's assistant cannot conduct client interviews, locate and interview witnesses, or conduct investigations which are some of the tasks that a legal assistant/paralegal can do under the supervision of an attorney. Our program is not a legal assistant/paralegal program; it is for the very rewarding career of lawyer's assistant.
I was thinking about becoming a paralegal... is this program for me?
It depends. As stated above, we are not a paralegal program. Paralegal programs are moving towards four-year degree programs, though there are currently other ways to attain the designation. This means, for most people, a lot more schooling. For those who are considering the legal profession, including becoming a paralegal, our program could be the first step.
Who teaches your program?
Our course is taught by excellent licensed, experienced, practicing lawyers. Biographical information is listed here on this website.
What is the program's cost?
Tuition is $995. This includes two BMLA texts (BMLA Text and the corresponding BMLA Student Study Guide) and access to the Stetson University password-protected learning management system that has additional course materials. This is an excellent value considering all that a student receives for this training: Personal contact with our attorney-instructor, outstanding support materials, a written communication course built into the program. See the many success stories from satisfied students.
Are there any computer or system requirements to participate in the program?
There are some technology requirements for this course. See the technology requirements page for details.
How does the process work for interacting with the course materials and the instructor?
We have a highly interactive program. Here is the outline of course actions:
- Once you register and pay, we ship your course texts to you, create an account for you in Stetson University's Blackboard learning management system, and notify your instructor. You'll be informed of the schedule and other pertinent information for the course will be sent to you. You'll participate in the course orientation. During orientation, questions about the course flow, expectations, etc., are discussed. All students participate in the orientation at the same time on the date and time shown on the course schedule.
- Once in the course, one of your first tasks will be to take a diagnostic exam in written communications because this area is extremely important in the legal profession. You can use your Gregg Reference Manual throughout the course to strengthen any areas that are identified as needing improvement.
- For each chapter, you'll read the material from the Basic Manual for the Lawyer's Assistants (BMLA), complete the review questions and take the chapter quiz.
- Each chapter also has one or more projects, vignettes or anecdotal stories that reinforce the BMLA chapter material. You will be expected to be able to discuss these during the weekly Blackboard Collaborate sessions (considered your "class"). More about your "class" is below.
- There will also be Gregg Reference Manual (GRM) worksheets assigned to strengthen your written communication skills. Answer sets will be provided. Although GRM worksheets aren't graded, they're key to doing well on the written communications portion of the ALP exam so it behooves each student to do the sheets, check the answers and learn from any mistakes.
- After the review questions have been submitted, they'll be graded within 48 hours by the instructor. Once your answers for all the review questions for a chapter are submitted, you'll be provided the password to access the chapter quiz.
- On a weekly basis, your instructor will conduct a Blackboard Collaborate conference call ("class") during the specific day and time of the week that's been designated for your group. We'll walk you through everything during orientation to familiarize you with this process. Weekly conference call classes are the time when you'll discuss that chapter's vignettes, projects, exercises, and get answers to any questions you might have regarding the subject matter. This will continue through the entire length of the course.
How are review questions and quizzes graded?
They are graded differently.
Review questions/quizzes contain subjective (essay) questions. Review questions can be answered "open book" and there is no time limit except that all chapter review questions must be submitted before taking the quiz. Answering review questions and being prepared to discuss them during your weekly conference call is our online version of class participation.
Quizzes only have objective questions (mainly multiple choice, true-false, multiple answer) that are graded automatically. Quizzes are open book evaluations but are timed because the intent is to have students read and learn the material before the quiz rather than having the unlimited time to look up every answer. Students who complete their quiz within the specified time limit get their grade right away.
- Quizzes: Multiple choice, true/false
- Review Questions: Essay, short answer
Open Book or Closed Book?
- Quizzes: Open
- Review Questions: Open
Timed or Not Timed
- Quizzes: Timed
- Review Questions: Not timed
- Quizzes: Automatic (via Blackboard)
- Review Questions: Manually (instructor)*
- Quizzes: Based on point of value of questions answered correctly
- Review Questions: Based on instructor's overall assessment of work submitted
*- Student scores will not appear in Blackboard until after the instructor has manually graded the review questions.
About how many hours a week are required to take this course?
This is a professional development program and not a semester-hour course. Most students need about 10 to 12 hours per week. (See the course outline). This is generally the work associated with reading and learning the topic from the chapter, except for a few occurrences when students are responsible for two chapters as those chapters are short. The time also includes vocabulary study, answering review questions, going through the Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, and working the case studies and exercises, taking the quiz, and reviewing the quiz results. The weekly instructor-led conference "class" usually requires 30-45 minutes each week.
How do I take the quizzes and exams?
For open book quizzes and exams, including answers to review questions, the only requirement is to take the quiz or exam at a location where there is a reliable Internet connection. Note that quizzes and exams are timed. The Stetson Honor Code applies to all work in the program. For the closed book NALS Final and the ALP Exams, they must be taken from a proctored location.
The NALS Final
This exam is taken on a computer with an Internet connection.
- The location for the NALS Exam also must be one where there is a computer and a reliable Internet connection.
- It is the student's responsibility to arrange a proctored test location, and to pay any test proctoring fees, if any. The person or activity proctoring must be cleared in advance with Stetson program administrators. A local law office or school might be willing to provide this proctoring service. (For military personnel, the local Education Office could do the proctoring; just provide the contact information to Stetson.)
- During the course, we will ask you to send the proctor's name and contact information (Name, title, organization, email address) to Rosemary Cangelosi, Stetson Student Liaison.
The ALP Exam
This exam is administered by the NALS Organization as it is one of several credentialing exams they offer.
- To schedule and pay for the ALP Examination visit the NALS website, click on certification and then on exam applications in the drop-down menu.
- Follow the application instructions to register for the test. There are application deadlines to meet to avoid late fees. Students who remain in the course can request the NALS Student rate which is a reduced application fee.
- NALS will arrange for the proctor and a location for the examination. They'll send you these details shortly before your test day. Specific exam questions should be directed to the NALS Organization.
Can I get college credit for completing this program?
This is a certificate program so we cannot award any college credits.
Is financial assistance available?
There is no financial aid available through Stetson University; however, consider investigating possibilities with the Career Training Loan lender, Sallie Mae.
What happens when I complete the program?
Successful graduates receive a Stetson University Basic Legal Training Course Certificate and a NALS Basic Legal Training Course Certificate. Those interested in taking the ALP exam administered by NALS will be provided information during the course on how to apply. (Also see below.)
How do I schedule and pay for the ALP Examination?
Visit the NALS website and click on certification and then on exam applications in the pulldown menu.
Do you guarantee I will pass the national ALP Exam?
No guarantee, but if you apply yourself, do the lessons, and become active in the learning process you should pass. (Beware of providers who "guarantee" that students will pass. They often charge a substantial additional fee for this service and demand that students who fail a test complete a remedial test preparation program that is so rigorous that most people drop out of it and never pass... and give up their guarantee money also.)
What if I enroll and find the course is not right for me?
We hope that won't be the case, but if you decide to dis-enroll for any reason, you may do so within the first 10 days after receiving your Blackboard password. Your request must be received in writing. Your tuition will be refunded less $175, which covers administrative costs. If books have already been sent to you, there will be an additional $100 fee as once books are sent, they are non-returnable/non-refundable. Refund requests outside of this window (10 days) will result in no refund whatsoever.