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Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies

Program Description

The Paralegal Studies program is a practice-oriented course of study designed to prepare you as a paralegal to undertake a highly responsible position in the United States legal system. You will be educated in many different facets of law, including the use of computers, legal databases and alternative dispute resolution. In 1998, the Paralegal Studies program was approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). Some courses are available via distance education, but in accordance with ABA requirements, a minimum of 10 semester credits of legal specialty courses must be taken in a traditional classroom setting (face-to-face). Paralegals are prohibited from the practice of law except when allowed by law or court rule.

 

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 (37 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 120 Law in Contemporary Society
PLS 210 Legal Research and Writing I
PLS 211 Legal Research and Writing II
PLS 221 Law of Contracts
PLS 222 Law of Business Organizations
PLS 310 Litigation I
PLS 311 Litigation II
PLS 400 Legal Ethics (1 Credit)
PLS 401 Paralegal Internship
PLS 420 Legal Capstone Course

Major Electives (9 credits)
Select three courses in Paralegal Studies course electives.

CORE Curriculum (30 credits)
Includes two writing courses (including Expository Writing and Critical Writing for the Professional); a Mathematics skills course; Effective Speaking Across Audiences and at least one approved course from each of the following categories: Natural Science, Humanities, Fine Arts, and Social Science; and two additional liberal arts electives for a total of 30 credits. 

Electives (45 credits)
Total Credits required to graduate (121 credits)

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 120 – Law in Contemporary Society
Emphasizes comprehensive understanding of the role of law in today’s world, including an overview of American legal institutions, federal, state, and local; the fundamental distinctions between civil and criminal law, common law and statutory law, substantive and procedural law, trial and appellate courts; quasi-judicial agencies and administrative law, current sources of law, and the U.S. Constitution. (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 211 – Legal Research & Writing II
Prerequisite: PLS 210 Builds upon the basic skills taught in Legal Research & Writing I. Involves students in individualized projects requiring research in multiple sources and use of various writing modes. Explores “non-library research” through government agencies, court personnel, and peer networking; specialized research tools available in particular subject areas in which paralegals are frequently involved; research into legislative history; techniques for searching and updating complex government regulations, both federal and state; and introduction into searching foreign law. (3 credits) Spring (Evenings only)

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 311 – Litigation I
Prerequisite: PLS 310 Building on the principles covered in Litigation I, students develop practical skills in drafting pleadings, discovery, documents, motions, jury instructions, trial notebooks, and post-trial and appeals memoranda. The role of the paralegal in assisting attorneys during settlement, trial or Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods is stressed. (3 credits) Spring (Evenings only)

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

PLS 401 – Paralegal Studies Internship
(Senior standing and consent of the Director of the Paralegal Studies program) The internship combines practical experience in a legal environment for students to apply theory and practical skills to legal situations. It is oriented toward the student’s career path. This course is open to Paralegal Studies majors. (3 credits) Spring, Fall, Summer

PLS 420 – Justice Studies Capstone
Prerequisite: Senior standing or permission of the instructor. This is a Capstone course for the justice studies major. Students integrate knowledge of theoretical concepts and practical application of research methods, writing for the legal and criminal justice professions, and selected specialty areas in the law and criminal justice through assigned readings, seminar discussion, and the completion of assigned projects. (3 credits) Fall

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