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The Paralegal Studies program is a course of study for those interested in becoming non-lawyer legal professionals. This certificate is recommended only for those students with a strong law-related educational or work experience background. A paralegal (sometimes called a legal assistant) is, in the words of the American Bar Association, a person “who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work, for which a lawyer is responsible.” Paralegal employers prefer applicants who have completed a formal training program.
Lawyers employ new paralegals in a variety of settings. In addition to traditional law firm positions, paralegals assist attorneys in businesses and corporations, financial institutions, title and escrow companies, and government institutions. Paralegals may also qualify for positions as trust officers, title examiners, contract clerks, legal investigators, and law firm administrators. Typical paralegal job duties include:
• Conducting legal investigations
• Performing legal research
• Drafting legal documents
• Conducting interviews of clients and witnesses
• Collecting, retrieving, analyzing, and summarizing data
• Managing and organizing cases
and other complex legal tasks. While specific assignments depend on the training, education, and experience of the paralegal, a paralegal may not give legal advice or otherwise engage in the unauthorized practice of law.
Successful paralegals share many characteristics: they are knowledgeable in their field of law; they are well-organized and attentive to detail; they have excellent computer skills and are adept in the use of most common office applications; they are able to communicate in a clear, grammatically correct manner, both orally and in writing; and they have superior analytical skills.
Program outcomes include:
• Demonstrate knowledge of legal terminology, the American legal system, and state and federal court rules and procedures.
• Describe the ethical obligations governing attorneys and paralegals.
• Demonstrate proper methods for conducting interviews and factual investigations with clients and witnesses.
• Demonstrate ability to determine relevant facts and conduct legal research in specific areas of law and the application of cases, statutes, regulations, and other sources of legal authority.
• Demonstrate ability to draft and properly format specific legal documents and correspondence.
• Demonstrate knowledge of the legal principles and procedures that determine the legal rights and duties of businesses.
• Demonstrate knowledge of legal principles and procedures in at least three of the following specialty areas: constitutional law, contracts, criminal law and procedure, family law, bankruptcy law, real property law, torts and personal injury law, wills and probate, victim advocacy, or alternative dispute resolution.
• Develop a portfolio documenting professional skills and knowledge in the paralegal field.
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Other Course Requirements:
|ADSC1517||3||Computers in the Law Office||This course covers practical computer applications in legal organizations and how the computer can be used to make the legal support staff more productive. Various types of software and legal-specific applications are covered. (Prerequisites: College-level reading and basic computer skills.) (1 hr lec/4 hrs lab/0 hrs OJT)
|LGST1400||3||Legal Studies I: Terminology and Procedures||This course introduces the student to the specific terminology and procedures used by paralegal professionals and to the proper documentation of legal information. It also covers legal ethics, legal analysis, legal evidence, and investigation. (Prerequisites: College-level reading and writing and keyboarding and word processing ability) (3 hrs lec/0 hrs lab/0 hrs OJT)|
|LGST1410||3||Legal Studies II: Introduction to Research||This course covers methods of research and document preparation used by the legal profession, including citation forms, appellate procedure within the specific areas of the law. The administration of a law office and formal advocacy are included, as well as a review of legal writing style. (Prerequisites: LGST1400 or instructor's consent) (3 hrs lec/0 hrs lab/0 hrs OJT)|
|LGST1415||3||Legal Ethics for the Paralegal||This course covers the ethical obligations of paralegals and other law office support staff. The course includes in-depth study of the ethical rules that govern the work of attorneys, paralegals, and others who work in the legal environment. Students will be introduced to the types of ethical dilemmas that they will face in a legal practice and be given a framework from which to undertake an analysis of an ethical problem. (Prerequisites: College level reading and writing and LGST 1400(Legal Studies I) or concurrent enrollment) (3 hrs lec/0 hrs lab/0hrs OJT)|
|LGST1420||3||Business Law - An Introduction||This course is an introductory course in the principles of business law as they apply to citizens and businesses. Topics include the legal system, contracts, sales, agency and employment law, and business organizations. (Prerequisites: College-level reading and writing) (3 hrs lec/0 hrs lab/0 hrs OJT)|
|LGST1430||3||Legal Research and Writing||This course examines the role of the paralegal in performing legal research using both traditional and computer assisted legal research techniques and communicating the results of that research. Students will learn how to locate, read, analyze, and validate court opinions, statutes, and other primary sources of law; to locate and properly utilize secondary sources of legal authority. Specific attention is given to strategies for analyzing a legal issue, developing a research plan, and formulating effective search queries and the preparation of written work products based on legal research, including formatting requirements and the use of proper citation form. (Prerequisites: LGST1410 (Legal Studies II)) (3 hrs lec/0 hrs lab/0 hrs OJT)|
|LGST1430||3||Advanced Legal Research||This course will familiarize the paralegal student with advanced and specialized approaches to utilizing the legal sources available in the law library and online. In addition, this course will provide the student with experience in the developing the analytical reasoning and writing skills required of all legal professionals through the preparation of legal documents, memoranda, and letters. (Prerequisites: LGST 1429) (3 hrs lec/0 hrs lab/0 hrs OJT)|
|LGST1455||3||Civil Litigation||This course provides an introduction to civil litigation procedure and practice in state and federal courts. Specific attention is given to the paralegal's role in civil litigation, with emphasis on applicable rules of civil procedure that govern the commencement of litigation, the discovery process, and preparation for trial. (Prerequisites: LGST1410) (3 hrs lec/0 hrs lab/0 hrs OJT)|
|LGST2997||1||Paralegal Capstone||This course is designed to provide the paralegal student who is familiar with law office procedures, legal research, letter writing, document preparation, and client contact an opportunity to integrate classroom concepts into the legal working environment. Students will have opportunities to develop the skills and abilities required of practicing paralegals through completion of a paralegal internship, concurrent employment in a legal working environment, participation in providing pro bono legal services or equivalent service learning, or a combination of activities. In addition, students will prepare a comprehensive portfolio evidencing the completion of program outcomes. (Prerequisites: Completion of or concurrent enrollment in last semester of required Paralegal Studies (LGST) courses or instructor consent.) (0 hrs lec/2 hrs lab/0 hrs OJT)|
SEMESTER ONE STUDENTS CHOOSE FROM
LGST1455 CIVIL LITIGATION 3 CR
LGST1460 CRIMINAL PROCEDURE 3 CR
Successful entry into this program requires a specific level of skill in the areas of English and reading. Program entry will depend, in part, on meeting the prerequisites listed below:
• A score of 86 or higher on the Sentence Skills portion of the CPT, OR
• Completion of ENGL0460 or its equivalent transfer course or higher.
• If required, ENGL0460 may not be taken concurrently with Semester I coursework.
• A score of 78 or higher on the Reading Comprehension portion of the CPT, OR
• Completion of READ0465 or its equivalent transfer course or higher.
• If required, READ0465 may not be taken concurrently with Semester I coursework.
LEGAL STUDIES ELECTIVES (CHOOSE SIX CREDITS FROM THE FOLLOWING OR ANY OTHER LGST COURSES:)
LGST1470 WILLS, TRUSTS, AND PROBATE 3 CR
LGST1480 FAMILY LAW 3 CR
LGST1510 BANKRUPTCY LAW 3 CR
LGST1520 REAL PROPERTY 3 CR
LGST2995 PARALEGAL INTERNSHIP 3 CR