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Associate in Paralegal Studies

Program Description

The Paralegal Studies program is a practice-oriented course of study designed to prepare you to be a paralegal. As the legal industry experiences transformation due to economic and technological changes, opportunities for accomplished and technically-savvy paralegals have increased significantly. As a Paralegal student you will receive education in many different facets of substantive law, including the litigation, criminal law, legal databases and alternative dispute resolution. The Paralegal Studies Program combines academic rigor with legal and technical competencies to develop well-rounded legal professionals. As a graduate you can pursue a successful career as a paralegal in legal, corporate, non-profit, or government organizations, and many continue to law school.

Program Objectives

  • To teach you substantive and procedural law with the objective of preparing you to complete any paralegal assignment in a competent, professional, and ethical manner.
  • To develop your legal writing skills by exercising your critical thinking skills and analytical skills.
  • To give you an understanding of legal research and to develop your ability to locate answers to legal questions.
  • To ensure that you have up-to-date skills in technology, including the use of computers for data and word processing, and legal research.
  • Through practical application, to improve your ability to work cooperatively with others; develop the your leadership skills and the ability to assume responsibility; and to improve your ability to follow directions.
  • To maintain good communications with private and public legal services providers to ensure that the paralegal program stays abreast of changes in the legal field in order to provide you with meaningful and current paralegal training.
  • To maintain good relations with national, state, and local bars and paralegal associations and to work collaboratively with these groups to improve and increase the utilization of paralegal services.

Curriculum

Curriculum

Required Courses

Total Major Credits (25 credits)

Required Courses (22 credits)

PLS 100 Introduction to Law and Legal Studies
PLS 101 Criminal Law for the Paralegal
PLS 110 Emerging Technologies and the Legal Environment  
PLS 210 Legal Research and Writing I
PLS 221 Law of Contracts  
PLS 222 Law of Business Organizations
PLS 310 Litigation I  
PLS 400 Legal Ethics (1 Credit)

 Major Electives

Major Electives (3 credits)

Select one course in Paralegal Studies course electives.

Core Curriculum  21 credits 

Includes two writing courses (Expository Writing and Critical Writing for the Professional) a Mathematics skills course; Effective Speaking Across Audience; Social Science; one liberal arts electives and at one of the following approved courses from the following categories: Natural Science, Humanities, Fine Arts. 

Electives (15 credits)

Total Credits required to graduate 61

Course Descriptions

PLS 100 – Introduction to Law and Legal Studies
Introduction to the law and the American legal system. Includes an introduction to legal research, legal writing and analysis, communication skills, law office administration, and legal and professional ethics. Basic concepts of substantive and procedural law, legal terminology, the functions of the courts and the role of attorneys, paralegals and other legal professional, will be stressed. (3 credits) Fall

PLS 101 – Criminal Law for the Paralegal
(Students majoring in Criminal Justice are not permitted to register for this course.) Analysis of substantive criminal law, federal and state, with emphasis on background of the common law. Includes discussion of general principles of criminal law such as the extent to which the law attributes criminality to acts or omissions; criminal intent; conspiracy; infancy; insanity; drunkenness; special defenses; entrapment, mistake, and ignorance; and specific offenses such as offenses against the person, habitation, property, public peace, and morality. (3 credits) Spring (Offered for School of Continuing Studies students only.)

PLS 110 – Emerging Technologies in the Legal Environment
Hands-on experience using standard computer software packages to perform operations, including form letters and legal documents; and spreadsheet applications that will encompass accounting principles as experienced in the legal environment. Stresses the importance of timekeeping, billing, and docket control. Use of the Internet and computer software packages to perform litigation support, investigations, and legal research. (3 credits) Fall, Spring

PLS 210 – Legal Research & Writing
Prerequisites: Successful completion (C- or higher) of Expository Writing Integrates the “how to” procedural aspects of legal research with the bibliographic knowledge necessary for effective research. Introduction includes: use of all primary legal sources, including cases, constitutions and statutes, and administrative rules and regulations, as well as texts and treatises, encyclopedias, law journals, and other secondary sources; “hands-on” use of electronic means of research such as CD-ROM and online database searching (Westlaw); analysis of legal problems and formulation of appropriate research procedures to determine the applicable law. The writing component stresses basic written communication skills as applied to common legal documents such as opinion letters and memoranda. (3 credits) Fall

PLS 221 – Law of Contracts
Study of the history and development of the law, including court structure and procedure. Consideration of criminal justice and tort law followed by a thorough study of contract law, including the basic elements of a valid contract, rights of the third parties, and remedies for breach. (3 credits) Fall

PLS 222 – Law of Business Organization
Considers the basic principles of the law of business associations; includes a study of agency, partnerships, and corporations. Discusses government regulation of business, business ethics, and sanctions for violations of the law by businesses. (3 credits) Spring

PLS 310 – Litigation I
Prerequisite: PLS 210 Study of state and federal courts, and the civil litigation process including:, preparation of case before trial, interviewing prospective witnesses, interviewing expert witnesses, preparation of pleadings, pretrial discovery, trial proofs, and actual courtroom experience observing trials. (3 credits) Fall

PLS 400 – Legal Ethics
Designed to familiarize students with the various ethical responsibilities in the practice of law. In-depth analysis of the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility and discussion of actual ethical problems. Includes unauthorized practice of law, confidentiality, conflict of interest, advertising, disciplinary process, and malpractice. (1 credit) (This course, required of all seniors, is offered on two consecutive Saturdays in September for the Fall semester and in January for the Spring semester.) Fall, Spring, Summer

Outcomes

The Program’s educational goals are:

  • Provide students with knowledge of ethics and professional responsibility to enable him/her to recognize these values and perform legal services in an ethical manner.
  • Provide each student with tools to develop critical thinking and analytical skills.
  • Develop in each student the ability to communicate effectively through training in legal research, writing, listening and speaking skills

Faculty