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Welcome to the University of Miami Paralegal Certificate Program

Paralegal Certificate

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The University of Miami Paralegal Certificate Program is a comprehensive non-credit program for those seeking to explore a career in the law field. Unlike similar programs at other schools and institutions, our curriculum concentrates on the skills needed to become a professional working paralegal. Through a combination of exercises, case studies, knowledge checks, and practice exams, students will gain proficiency in a wide range of core paralegal functions. The program’s instructors are all seasoned professionals—attorneys, judges, and magistrates who have demonstrated both top-notch teaching ability and expertise in their subject matter.   

This program is offered through the Office of Professional Advancement at the University of Miami.

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Quick Facts About the Program

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  • Career Outlook

    While the role of the paralegal is sometimes diverse, the truth is that paralegals can perform most of the same duties as a lawyer. Other than giving legal advice and representing a client in court, there are few tasks that the paralegal isn’t equipped to do. Preparing briefs and documents, performing legal research, conducting client and witness interviews, organizing case files, and assisting attorneys in their duties are all part of the paralegal’s rich and varied skill set. Just like lawyers, paralegals can either handle a broad spectrum of legal matters or focus on specialized topics like litigation, family law, corporate law, or immigration. 

    The U.S. Department of Labor projects that the employment rate for paralegals will grow by 17% between 2012 and 2022, much higher than the average growth rate for all professions combined. With the employment rate for lawyers expected to grow only 10% during that same time frame, it’s clear that the legal profession will be relying heavily on paralegals in the near future. To reduce costs and increase the availability and efficiency of legal services, more firms will rely on paralegals to perform tasks once handled by lawyers.

  • What Will I Learn?

    The University of Miami Paralegal Program learning is focused on skill building of foundational paralegal responsibilities with emphasis on procedure and ethics. Students will also learn key concepts in Tort Law, Contract Law, Business Law, Real Estate Law, Foreclosure and Eviction Law, Bankruptcy Law, Elder Law, Healthcare Law, Wills, Trusts, and Estate Law, Family Law, Employment Law, Workers’ Compensation Law, Immigration Law, and Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure. 

    Upon successful completion of the University of Miami Paralegal Certificate program, the participant will demonstrate proficiency in: 

    • Applying ethics rules in the legal environment
    • Navigating procedural rules for case management and compliance
    • Conducting electronic legal research using Lexis and Westlaw
    • Constructing legal analysis based on law interpretation
    • Drafting legal documents
    • Using legal technology
    • Exploring key components of fourteen substantive areas of law
    • Demonstrating fundamental and substantive specific skillsets associated with career readiness

      Click here for access to the curriculum

  • How Will I Benefit From UM's Program?

    Our program focuses only on those skills needed to become a professional working paralegal. 

    In addition to learning from respected judges and top-notch attorneys, students are provided with access to the Westlaw and LexisNexis online legal research systems. They also have access to the Westlaw and Lexis Labs, which offer instruction to students logged on to the sites.

  • Is This Program Right For Me?

    This program is best suited for individuals seeking to enter the legal field as paralegals. It also provides valuable experience for potential law school applicants.

  • How Long Is The Program?

    The Ground Paralegal Program is 64 hours. Students will spend approximately 10–12 additional hours on assigned readings, drafting, research, testing, utilization of web-based study support, and material review.

  • Program Format & Location

    UM’s paralegal certificate program is offered in a synchronous and asynchronous remote delivery format. 

  • Tuition & Fees

    Tuition is $6,995

  • Financial Assistance Options

    Financial assistance and payment plans are available for this program. To learn more, please speak with an enrollment advisor at (305) 284-4000.


  • What Can I Do After Earning The Certificate?

    Program graduates will be qualified for a variety of jobs in both the public and private sectors. Possible employment settings include law firms of all sizes, corporate in-house legal departments, and government offices at the municipal, county, state, or federal level. Paralegal skills and experience also prove valuable to clerks and administrators in the court system and in certain business or finance jobs where research and analysis play a key role.

  • What Are The Requirements To Earn The Certificate?

    • Twenty program blocks focusing on incremental paralegal skill-building.
    • Twenty program blocks focusing on fourteen substantive areas of law.                   
    • Throughout the fundamental skills and substantive law blocks, students showcase learning through paralegal research and writing assignments.  
    • Complete all the program blocks and obtain a passing score of 70% or higher on each corresponding block. 

  • Program Requirements

    • Education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
    • Experience requirements: Work experience is not required.
    • Computer literacy: Students must possess computer word processing skills (Microsoft Word for Windows) and must have access to a computer and reliable Internet connection. 

  • Faculty

    Tammi Clearfield, Lead Instructor is a practicing attorney who has instructed paralegals for over fourteen years. Mrs. Clearfield has taught various online and on-ground courses in law, criminal justice, paralegal studies, business and human resources at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. She was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1995 and admitted to practice before the Southern District in the US District Court and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

    Mrs. Clearfield graduated with honors from Florida International University in 1995 with her MS degree and from the University of Miami School of Law in 1995 with her JD degree. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution.

    Mrs. Clearfield is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator, a member of the Coral Gables Bar Association, the Florida Bar Family Law Section, the Florida Bar Criminal Law Section, and the Florida Bar Labor and Employment Law Section. She is also a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Alpha Phi Sigma Honor Society., and a board member of the Citizens' Crime Watch of Miami-Dade Executive Committee. 

    Judge Antonio Arzola was appointed to the Miami-Dade County Court bench by Governor Jeb Bush in 2005 and subsequently re-elected to the County Court bench in 2008 without any opposition. In 2009, he was elevated to the Circuit Court bench by Governor Charlie Crist. Judge Arzola presided in the criminal division for 7 years and currently presides in the civil division.

    He graduated with honors from Miami Dade College and Florida International University with his undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice. He was the first college graduate in his immediate family. Judge Arzola subsequently went to the University of Miami School of Law where he graduated magna cum laude and was a member of the UM Law Review. Judge Arzola was number one in his class after his first year and as a result, obtained a full scholarship for his second and third years of law school. He also received book awards at UM for the best-written exams in the following subjects: Torts, Property, and Constitutional Law.

    Upon graduating from law school, Judge Arzola clerked for United States Chief District Court Judge Federico A. Moreno. After his clerkship, he joined the law firm of Murai Wald Biondo & Moreno as a commercial litigator handling complex civil litigation matters.

    General Magistrate Karl Brown In May 2005, General Magistrate Brown was appointed as a Magistrate in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of the State of Florida, Miami-Dade County. He founded and was the principal owner and practitioner of the Law Offices of Karl S.H. Brown, where his areas of practice ranged from environmental, commercial & contract law to corporate, labor, real estate, and family law.

    He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and African and Afro American Studies from the University of South Florida. He earned his Juris Doctorate in May 1989, from Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law.

    Craig M. Dorne was born and raised in Miami-Dade County and is a graduate of the University of Miami School of Business and School of Law. Mr. Dorne has focused his entire legal career on serving individuals and businesses in a wide variety of areas. He is a general practitioner who strives to provide his clients with the most cost-effective method to resolve their legal problems. 

    Mr. Dorne is a member in good standing of the Florida Bar since 1990. He was admitted to practice in the State Courts of Florida and the United States District Courts for the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida. Mr. Dorne stays current on the law through the latest computer technology and membership in the Florida Bar Association, American Bar Association, Dade County Bar Association, and the American Health Lawyers Association.

    Mr. Dorne is also very active in the community. He has served on the Board of Directors of several charitable organizations and provides free legal services to many individuals and entities. 

    Adela Estopinan has been affiliated with the University of Miami's Paralegal Program for several years and has taught both Essential Skills and substantive subjects. She started her law career as an Assistant State Attorney in Miami-Dade County. Later, she was appointed as a voluntary Hearing Officer with Dade County Public Schools. Currently, she is a partner at a major national bankruptcy law firm in Florida. In this capacity, she oversees operations at several Florida offices and manages a professional staff of attorneys and paralegals. Additionally, Adela serves as lead counsel in Florida and personally oversees all bankruptcy matters before the courts.

    She was admitted to the Florida Bar and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florid and is a member of the American Bar Association, the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, and the Southern Florida Bankruptcy Bar.

    Armando G. Hernandez is the founding and managing partner of the Law Offices of Armando G. Hernandez. Before that, he spent his career at a large Florida-based law firm with national outreach and Fortune 500 corporate clientele. Armando focuses his law practice in the areas of product liability, medical malpractice, personal injury, property insurance claims, construction litigation, commercial litigation, professional negligence, and other general litigation matters.

    Mr. Hernandez has extensive trial experience in state and federal courts nationwide, including Florida, Georgia, California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Texas, and other jurisdictions. He has successfully handled appeals in state and federal courts. He has been recognized as a Florida Super Lawyer Rising Star, Florida Legal Elite Up and Comer, Top 40 Under 40 Lawyers in South Florida, Daily Business Review Most Effective Lawyer Finalist in Product Liability, and HYPE Go-Getter Award Finalist.

    He dedicates time to serving other causes and local organizations such as Ethical Governance Day by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics, a board member of the Miami Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Venture Law Project Board, fundraising for the Leukemia Research Foundation, and mentoring law students.

    Thomas Rebull was appointed as a Circuit Judge in September of 2011 by Governor Rick Scott. Judge Rebull was born and raised in Miami. He earned his law degree, magna cum laude, from American University’s Washington College of Law in 1995, where he served on the law review. His first job after law school was as a law clerk for two years for the late Judge Joseph Nesbitt on the Third District Court of Appeal of Florida. 

    He served on the City of Miami Civilian Investigative Panel for 9 years, the last two as its Chairperson. The Panel is charged with civilian oversight of the Miami Police Department. He also participated in a two-year fellowship through the Miami Fellows Initiative, a program of the then Dade Community Foundation. The Initiative is a leadership development program for individuals in the early stages of their careers. 

    Judge Rebull is a frequent lecturer on professionalism and civility issues, as well as matters related to practice in the civil division of the Circuit Court. Judge Rebull has also served as faculty at the Florida College of Advanced Judicial Studies

    Roberta Mandel has argued over 850 cases before every Florida District Court of Appeal,  the Florida Supreme Court, the Eleventh District Court of Appeal and served as co-counsel before the United States Supreme Court during her 26 years of practicing law. She has over 530 published appellate decisions. She was involved in the legal proceedings following the death of Anna Nicole Smith. In addition to practicing appellate law, Ms. Mandel renders trial support in both civil and trial matters and has sat "second-chair" in approximately 1800 jury trials. 

    Ms. Mandel is allowed to practice before the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida; the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York; the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas; the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. She is an appointed member of the Executive Council of the Appellate Practice Section of the Florida Bar and the Appellate Rules Committee of the Florida Bar. She is also a member of the Dade County Bar Association's Appellate Committee and the Third District Court of Appeal Historical Society. Ms. Mandel serves on the Amicus Committee for the State Florida Association of Women Lawyers and is a member of the Defense Research Institute. 

    In her spare time, Ms. Mandel coaches local high school mock trial teams and judges moot court competitions at the University of Miami, School of Law. She was named a "Legal Leader" in Florida in 2014 and 2015. Her law firm (Mandel Law Group, P.A.) was also named "Boutique Law Firm of the Month" in September 2013 by Attorney At Law Magazine.

    Judge Rodney Smith was appointed to the Miami-Dade County Court bench by Governor Charlie Crist in May of 2008, where he presided over criminal, civil and domestic violence cases. Judge Smith was subsequently re-elected to the County Court bench in 2010 without any opposition. Judge Smith was elevated to the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court bench by Governor Rick Scott in June of 2012, where he has been presiding in the felony criminal division. Judge Smith was initially appointed by former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Peggy A. Quince and reappointed by then-Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles T. Canady to fill the judicial vacancy on the Mediator Qualifications Board in the Southern Division. 

    A cum laude graduate of Florida A & M University and also a cum laude graduate of Michigan State University College of Law, Judge Smith has handled appellate cases and tried over 100 jury and non-jury civil, criminal, and administrative cases before the state and federal courts and administrative bodies. He has received numerous honors, awards, and recognition for his commitment and dedication to the community. Judge Smith is also an Eagle Scout where he serves as an Assistant Scoutmaster for a local inner-city Boy Scouts Troop.

  • Professional Badges



    The Division of Continuing and International Education’s mission is to empower people to reach their full potential through lifelong and lifewide learning. Revolutionary learning experiences are created for our students to ensure that we meet the demands of the ever-changing economy. We continuously measure our programs’ core competencies, instruction, quality, standards, and service.

    The continuing education landscape has elevated an era of innovation and disruption and as such, the Office of Professional Advancement has instituted a badging system.  Graduates of our programs will be able to virtually display a badge, which showcases their new skillset to prospective employers and professional colleagues.

    How does it Work?

    Badges are earned by successfully completing a certificate program through the Office of Professional Advancement. * Upon completion, you will receive an email with instructions on how to collect your badge. Once collected, you can display your badge on social media sites like LinkedIn. Any potential employer will be able to click on the badge for a list of specific skills associated with the respective certificate received.

    *Please call us for a list of approved programs.

    For more information about our career and professional development badging, please call us at 305-284-4000.

  • Have Questions?

    For more information, please call 305-284-4000. Our enrollment advisors can answer any questions or schedule a meeting to discuss your goals and opportunities.

Speak to an Enrollment Advisor