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Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Paralegal Studies

Program Description

This program is open to you if you have previously earned a baccalaureate degree. Under exceptional circumstances, this requirement may be waived. You must petition the Paralegal Studies Department and submit supporting documents which must include evidence of a significant combination of college achievement and law-related work experience.

Of the following requirements, half must be completed at the University. New students may begin during any semester. This program is approved by the American Bar Association. Paralegals are prohibited from the practice of law except when allowed by law or court rule. A minimum of 10 semester credits of legal specialty courses must be taken in a traditional classroom setting.

 

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 and analytical skills.
  • To give you an understanding of legal research and to develop your ability to locate answers to legal questions.
  • To ensure 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 meaningful and current paralegal training to our students.
  • 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

PLS 100 Introduction to Law and Legal Studies
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 235 Torts
PLS 310 Litigation I
PLS 311 Litigation II
PLS 400 Legal Ethics (1 credit)

and

Two PLS Electives

Note: None of the Paralegal Studies offerings are affiliated with the Legal Studies Program offered by the University’s day division. These include the bachelor and associate degree programs as well as the certificate programs. Continuing Studies students in the Paralegal Studies programs will not satisfy degree or certificate requirements by taking Legal Studies Program courses. Only the Paralegal Studies degree and certificate programs are ABA approved. 

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 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 235 – Torts
Study of the nature of civil wrongs and of jurisprudential concepts concerning liability. Includes the study of injuries to persons, property, and relationships; intentional wrongs; strict liability; negligence; contributory negligence; and causation, deceit, defamation, malicious prosecution, and the impact of insurance on tort liability. (3 credits) Fall

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

Outcomes

Program Outcomes:

  • To teach paralegal students substantive and procedural law with the objective of preparing them to complete any paralegal assignment in a competent, professional, and ethical manner.
  • To develop the student’s legal writing skills by exercising the student’s critical thinking skills and analytical skills.
  • To give the student an understanding of legal research and to develop the student’s ability to locate answers to legal questions.
  • To ensure that students 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 the student’s ability to work cooperatively with others; develop the student’s leadership skills and the ability to assume responsibility; and to improve the student’s 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 meaningful and current paralegal training to our students.
  • 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.

Faculty