Advanced Paralegal Certificates

UHD offers six Advanced Paralegal Certificates.

In order to register for the Advanced Paralegal Certificates (APC), you must provide proof that you have already obtained a paralegal certificate, paralegal degree, or have at least three years of experience performing substantive legal work under the supervision of an attorney.

Legal Writing APC

You can be a better paralegal by being a better legal writer. Learn the craft of legal writing. This Advanced Paralegal Course in Legal Writing will give you more knowledge of, and more practice in:

  • Writing differently for different audiences;
  • Writing with clarity and impact;
  • Writing effective paragraphs, sentences, and words;
  • Writing letters and emails;
  • Writing legal memoranda;
  • Writing case briefs and appellate briefs;
  • Writing to persuade:
  • Drafting contracts;
  • Drafting motions; and
  • Editing yourself and others.

This course will be offered on three consecutive Saturdays, from 9:00 – 3:30.

Jac Brennan has been an attorney since 1998. A graduate of the University of Houston, she is licensed to practice in Texas and is admitted to the practice before the Supreme Court of the United States. She taught the Paralegal Certificate Program for eleven years at UH before moving the program to UHD in 2017. She has been a logophile for her entire life.

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Criminal Law APC

Learn and understand the procedures and legal structure of the Criminal Justice System, including both state and federal jurisdiction, and the role of the paralegal in criminal prosecutions. Coursework will focus on the practical aspects of paralegal work, with emphasis on research, investigations, drafting motions, and client interaction. In addition to classroom instruction, students will learn from guest speakers including judges, prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys, and paralegals.

This course will be offered in six 3-hour evening classes, 6:30 – 9:30, over three weeks.

James McCalla is the instructor for this course. He has been practicing as a criminal defense lawyer since 2005. He graduated with honors from the University of Houston Law Center in 2005. He has been in solo practice since 2010. During his career, he has handled a wide variety of criminal cases, ranging from capital murder to trespassing on school grounds. He practices in Harris, Fort Bend, and Galveston counties.

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Personal Injury Litigation APC

The Advanced Paralegal Certificate in Personal Injury Law gives students the knowledge and skills needed to effectively support the prosecution and defense of personal injury claims. The program provides students with a detailed understanding of common personal injury claims, including simple and gross negligence, premises liability, product liability, and medical malpractice. Students will also learn to recognize applicable defenses, analyze medical records, and appreciate the interplay between personal injury claims and applicable insurance coverage issues. In addition to understanding these legal principles, students will develop the practical skills necessary to follow a personal injury claim from an initial client interview through trial or settlement. Class assignments are designed to improve students’ legal writing abilities while also expanding their legal skillset. Students not only learn to recognize important facts and legal issues, but will also begin to appreciate why those facts and issues can be critical to the case as a whole. The combination of legal knowledge and practical skill taught in this Advanced Paralegal Certificate program will help to make any paralegal an invaluable asset to the personal injury attorney.

This course will be offered on six consecutive Wednesday evenings, from 6:30 – 9:30.

Jennifer Bonds Cabrera is a litigator with experience handling all aspects of personal injury claims. She has represented both plaintiffs and defendants in a range of actions, including those caused by defective products, dangerous conditions on premises, medical malpractice, and motor vehicle negligence. Prior to becoming an attorney, Jennifer worked as a paralegal for a boutique litigation firm in Houston. She has been a guest speaker for the University of Houston Paralegal Program since 2012, and currently practices in the litigation group of an AmLaw 100 firm. Jennifer is licensed to practice in all Texas state courts and the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

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Family Law APC (two separate courses)

Family Law APC I: From “I Do” to “Divorce Granted.”

The APC Family Law courses will prepare you to apply the skills you have obtained through your paralegal certificate course, or experience in the legal field, to the practice of family law. Skills include:

  1. Client intake;
  2. Preparation of a petition for divorce (both with and without children);
  3. How to prepare a petition with a request for Temporary Restraining Order and/or temporary orders;
  4. Preparing for a temporary order hearing;
  5. Preparing a Financial Information Statement;
  6. Preparation of temporary orders;
  7. Propounding and answering discovery that’s appropriate for your case;
  8. Preparing an inventory from discovery documents and client information;
  9. Preparing for mediation;
  10. Court-Specific requirements, County-Specific requirements, Scheduling orders & calendaring;
  11. How to docket due dates when a case is set for trial;
  12. Pretrial Hearing documents;
  13. Trial prep, trial notebooks, exhibits;
  14. Preparation of Final Decree of Divorce;
  15. Closing out the case.

Vanetta Peterson has more than 40 years of paralegal experience, including 30 years as a family law paralegal. She received her Board Certification in Family Law from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 2002. In 2010 and 2011, she served as the CLE Co-Chair for the District 1, Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas. She was the Chair of the Houston Area Paralegal Association-Family Law from 2004 to 2007. Currently a member of the Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas, the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, and the Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists, Vanetta is a frequent speaker at family law seminars. Vanetta brings a treasure trove of knowledge combined with “in the trenches” experience to the Advanced Paralegal Certificate Family Law Program, which consists of two individual courses, each covering different topics and skills.

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Family Law APC II: Parentage, Modifications, Enforcements

The APC Family Law courses will prepare you to apply the skills you have obtained through your paralegal certificate course, or experience in the legal field, to the practice of family law. Skills include: 

  1. Initial Client intake;
  2. Modification of a Texas Order;
  3. Order Modifying Prior Order;
  4. Enforcement of Texas Orders;
  5. Enforcement Order;
  6. Parentage;
  7. Order Establishing Parentage;
  8. Ancillary Motions and Orders;
  9. Obtaining hearing dates;
  10. Preparing your attorney for hearing.

Vanetta Peterson has more than 40 years of paralegal experience, including 30 years as a family law paralegal. She received her Board Certification in Family Law from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 2002. In 2010 and 2011, she served as the CLE Co-Chair for the District 1, Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas. She was the Chair of the Houston Area Paralegal Association-Family Law from 2004 to 2007. Currently a member of the Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas, the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, and the Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists, Vanetta is a frequent speaker at family law seminars. Vanetta brings a treasure trove of knowledge combined with “in the trenches” experience to the Advanced Paralegal Certificate Family Law Program, which consists of two individual courses, each covering different topics and skills.

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Civil Litigation APC

The Advanced Paralegal Class in Civil Litigation will provide more knowledge of, and more practice in:

  1. Rules and Courts – A discussion of applicable local, state, and federal rules of civil procedure and evidence, including practical advice about filing, deadlines, and service of process
  2. Budget, Schedule, and Resources – How to assess and plan for a litigation matter from its inception, including costs, complexity, and duration
  3. Pretrial Case Management – Moving a litigation case through its pretrial development, including legal research, discovery, and the role of technology
  4. Interviewing techniques and investigations – How to conduct effective interviews; introduction to basic techniques used in investigations
  5. Trials – An examination of trial preparation and assistance at trial, including trial notebooks, coordination of the trial team, and understanding the courtroom
  6. Post-trial work and final exam – A review of post-trial motions and appeals; one-hour final exam

The course will be offered on six consecutive Saturdays, from 9:00 – noon.

Lue Dillard has practiced law for more than thirty years, trying cases in courts all over the country. She is board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Labor and Employment Law. She has also served as an arbitrator and mediator on the American Arbitration Association’s employment and commercial panels for twenty-five years. As a partner in a law firm and assistant general counsel of a major oil company, her experience has taught her to understand the needs of clients and law firms. Part of her work involved supervising paralegals and the administrative staff, so she appreciates the contributions made by all members of the legal team.

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