Overview

Channel your talents as a problem-solver, creative thinker and multi-tasker to a rewarding paralegal career. As a paralegal, you can assist lawyers in case preparation through investigation, research, interviews, organization of case materials, writing reports, and drafting of briefs, wills, contracts and other documents.

Paralegal studies at SMWC, within the context of liberal arts education, focuses on the study of law in its relation to politics, society and history. Offered through our renowned Woods Online program, paralegal studies goes beyond what constitutes law and explores the mutual impacts of law and society.

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is an Institutional Member of the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE). This membership has been continuous since 1989.

Why study paralegal online?

 A paralegal studies degree from Woods Online can propel you to the next level in your career. We have high expectations for you. Here’s what you can expect from us:

  • Support: Our professors are more than just teachers. They are advisors, cheerleaders and friends. We offer online academic support so you’re never alone and career services specifically tailored to individual student goals.
  • Dedication: Our faculty and staff have stood in your shoes before. We know about the homework, class projects and presentations. We’re here to help, advise and encourage you through all of your classes.
  • Convenience: We understand you’re busy—you’re a student, a parent and an employee. We know that you have many responsibilities to balance, so we work with you to ensure that you graduate with a paralegal studies degree that breaks down the barriers in your career.
  • More than 90 percent of our grads land a job right when they graduate. You have the drive to aspire higher. The professors, mentors and staff at SMWC will help you get there.
Major

The courses in the major encourage students to examine political influences, historical patterns, and economic relations and the moral, philosophical and ethical foundations and implications of law. This major synthesizes the study of the substance and process of law. This major requires 51 credit hours.

Required Legal Specialty and Paralegal Courses

39 Credit Hours required; All courses listed.

PL 111 Introduction to the Profession
Online | 2 Credits
Show Course Description

Course introduces students to the legal assistant career including what the profession is about, what the legal assistant does and how the legal assistant can create a future in an ethical context. August, January, May.

Online 2 Credits
PL 112 Computer Basics in Law
Online | 2 Credits
Show Course Description

This course will provide all students with access and training in Westlaw, access to library materials, and an understanding of other computer assisted legal research databases. Students enrolled receive passwords to Westlaw®, a premier online database for a wide range of resources for legal research, including federal and state statutes, cases, regulations, law journals, and legal news sources. Alternate Format. August every year and January, as needed.

Online 2 Credits
PL 200 Law, Ethics, and Society
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

The study of law and the legal system. Introduces case law, analysis and ethical consideration in our world. Provides an overview of the courts, civil and criminal procedure, torts, contracts, property law and the individual’s rights. An excellent course for any student because of its practical, universal content and for students who are interested in attending law school. August, October, January, May every year.

Online 3 Credits
PL 232 Legal Communication
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

The fundamentals of working and legal vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and diction, proper citation form, writing logically and effectively for the legal setting and reading for comprehension. Writing-intensive course culminating with research presented in a professional memorandum format. January, every year. Course fee. Prerequisite: PL 231.

Online 3 Credits
PL 233 Interviewing and Investigation
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Course presents the five-stage interviewing model, an extensive multicultural focus, an emphasis on developmental theory and the concept of negotiation or alternative dispute resolution. Students master an important set of skills basic to all interviewing situations and engage in role-playing situations designed to develop communication skills. October, March, May.

Online 3 Credits
PL 234 Legal Research I
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Students gain an understanding of legal resource materials and basic techniques of legal research through federal and state case law, statutes, encyclopedias, administrative material, Shepards and other sources. Extensive hands-on exercises. Excellent for students planning to attend law school. Course fee.

Online 3 Credits
PL 235 Legal Research II
Online | 2 Credits
Show Course Description

This course continues to explore the variety of legal reference sources. It focuses on locating, analyzing and updating statutory and administrative law. Students practice researching various legal materials. There is an inclusion of directed research toward briefing cases and researching issues for memoranda. This course also covers basic practices in legal correspondence. Same text as Legal Research I. Prerequisite: PL 234.

Online 2 Credits
PL 302 Computers in the Law
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

In this largely hands-on experience, students will be exposed to the many ways that computers are being used in law offices and other legal settings. The primary focus is Westlaw®, but students will be introduced to database systems for litigation support and timekeeping, spreadsheets, docket control and others. August and January as needed. Alternative Format. Course fee. Prerequisite: PL 231.

Online 3 Credits
PL 321 Theories of Liability
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Course presents tort law basics and the liability of persons who commit civil wrongs. Course fee. Prerequisite PL 234.

Online 3 Credits
PL 322 Contracts and Commercial Transactions
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Students obtain a general introduction to the basic legal principles of contracts in general and those that are part of modern business transactions; the rights of debtors and creditors; the Uniform Commercial Code Article 2, Sales; Article 3, Negotiable Instruments; and Article 9, Secured Transactions. Course fee. Prerequisite: PL 234.

Online 3 Credits
PL 323 Civil Litigation I
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

This course introduces the civil litigation process in state and federal courts, and proceedings in administrative agencies generally. It focuses on the initial phases of that process. Students will learn to conduct client interviews and pre-litigation investigations, and to draft the pleadings initiating lawsuits and proceedings through pre-trial motion practice. Prerequisite: PL 234.

Online 3 Credits
PL 325 Civil Litigation II
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

This course continues the study of the litigation process with the discovery, trial, and post-trial stages. Discovery topics include interrogatories, depositions, document production (including e-discovery) and inspection requests, physical and mental examinations, and requests for admission. Other topics include evidentiary issues, settlement negotiations, organization of case files, document control systems, trial preparation, trial procedure, and post-trial proceedings. Overviews of administrative hearings and alternative dispute resolution are also presented. Same text as Civil Litigation I. Prerequisite: PL 323.

Online 3 Credits
PL 443 Advanced Research and Writing
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Students will receive additional training in the legal writing of memoranda and briefs along with more in-depth research using Westlaw. Students will receive legal assignments and perform the extensive legal research and writing as if in a legal setting under simulated office time constraints with resulting critiques. Coverage of the appellate process is included. Senior level status. Prerequisite: PL 234.

Online 3 Credits
PL 472 Legal Practicum
Online | 4 Credits
Show Course Description

Students participate in field experience with a lawyer or in a law-related office under the supervision of a lawyer with approval of the paralegal coordinator. Proposed summer or part-time field experience during the year will be assigned approved credit hours in advance, based on legal experience content of the site. Students work in the position for a minimum of 150 hours, are monitored by the on-site supervisor and supplement the field experience with classroom work through weekly seminars. Portfolio completed. Senior year. January, every year. Course fee. Prerequisite: Consent of program coordinator.

Online 4 Credits

Electives

Students may select a track or may choose to take any courses for a total of 12 credit hours of paralegal electives.

PL 324 Mediation/ADR
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

This course will provide students with a basic understanding of the alternative dispute resolution process, will define the range of ADR programs, explain the cultural context for dispute resolution, present negotiation skills, and prepare students for alternative areas of employment in this evolving area. Fall, odd years. As needed. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

Online 3 Credits
PL 331 Criminal Law
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Course introduces the principles and theories of criminal law, presents the fundamental role that criminal law plays in our democratic process and delineates the limitations placed on the government’s power to use criminal law. August, January, May.

Online 3 Credits
PL 332 Family Law
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

The legal and personal implications of divorce, separation, premarital agreements, child custody, rights of women and counseling are presented. Conducting client interviews, preparing pleas, researching case law and considering tax consequences are experiential components. October, March. Course fee. Prerequisite: PL 231.

Online 3 Credits
PL 341 Corporate Law and Legal Entities
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Course introduces the various forms of business organizations; includes practical techniques used to form and to continue operations of corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies. Explores employment relations, business transactions, financing and property consideration. Spring, odd years. March.

Online 3 Credits
PL 342 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

This non-science survey course provides the student with a general overview of the wide scope of the area of investigative techniques associated with forensic science. Fundamental topics such as fingerprinting, crime scene investigation, observation of scenes, and report writing will be presented. Interwoven in this study is the law and the importance of the system within a system. Spring, even years. Prerequisite: PL 331 or consent of instructor.

Online 3 Credits
PL/EV 350 Environmental Law
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Provides an overview of environmental law that is relevant to the everyday lives of all citizens. As an overview, offers the curious student the resources needed to explore environmental subject areas or issues more fully. Revolves around the primary federal environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and National Environmental Policy Act. Interesting cases, such as does a cetacean have standing to sue, will be incorporated as learning tools. August, October, odd years.

Online 3 Credits
PL 402 Administrative Law
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Administrative law controls the way in which administrative agencies operate and the regulations they issue. Administrative law requires an understanding of all areas of law. Much of our daily activity involves complying with administrative rules or seeking government benefits from administrative agencies. Course provides students with the knowledge and skills needed for effective interaction with administrative organizations. October, March.

Online 3 Credits
PL 420 Intellectual Property
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Course provides a basic introduction to the concepts of intellectual property law by providing an overview of the three primary regimes of the federal intellectual property system: trademark, copyright and patent law, along with a look at related state law, primarily trade secrets. Also looks at IP issues for the artist, performer, manager of contractual relationships; acquisition, copyright and disposition of literary and audio-visual properties; production and distribution agreements; advertising law and rights affecting TV, motion picture, radio and stage business. October, March. Prerequisites: PL 200 and 231.

Online 3 Credits
PL 422 Property Law and Applications
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Course provides a thorough treatment of real estate theory, from the social impact and economic importance of real estate to procedures and applications in the real estate office. Property management, title searching, document drafting and zoning considerations provide the basis for the hands-on portion of the course. March.

Online 3 Credits
PL 430 Women and the Law
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Provides a historical overview of how law and the legal system in the United States have defined women’s status from the Revolutionary War period to the present in such areas as family law, criminal law, property and contract rights, earnings, and rights of citizenship. Examines selected contemporary issues, including statutory, regulatory, and constitutional remedies to gender bias or inequities; family violence, divorce, custody, and economic/employment issues. The effectiveness of the courts, legislatures, and other forums in resolving these issues is also examined. October, January, May.

Online 3 Credits
PL 431 Death and Taxes
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Course presents the fundamentals of wills and trusts, why wills are needed, a review of state and federal income and fiduciary taxes and the method of assisting an attorney in the probate/estate process. Intense document drafting is a major part of this course. August, January.

Online 3 Credits
PL 441 Law Office Administration
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Course presents a comprehensive view of management principles as they apply to the law office. Areas of discussion include strategic planning, environmental design, interpersonal skills, time management, law office automation, marketing and personnel relations. October.

Online 3 Credits
PL 480 Topics in Paralegal Studies
Online | 1-3 Credit
Show Course Description

Course topics rotate according to current needs in the profession. Possible topics are elder law, landlord-tenant law, collections, medico-legal aspects of law, employee benefits/pension law, worker’s compensation and administrative law. As needed. May have course fee. May be repeated with different topics. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

Online 1-3 Credit
PL 499 Independent Study
Online | 1-4 Credit
Show Course Description

Individually supervised advanced study on topic of scholarly and critical interest in a selected area of paralegal studies. As needed. May have a course fee. May be repeated with different topics. Prerequisite: Consent of program coordinator.

Online 1-4 Credit

Information about Course Requirements
We do our best to keep this information updated, but you should always double-check to ensure you are meeting graduation requirements. For the most current course requirements please review the latest undergraduate college catalog. Always consult your academic advisor when registering for courses or when you have questions about course requirements.

Associate's Degree

The associate degree in paralegal studies requires the completion of 45 credit hours of subject-specific coursework, in addition to Woods Core requirements.

Required Legal Specialty Courses

36 credit hours required; All courses listed.

PL 111 Introduction to the Profession
Online | 2 Credits
Show Course Description

Course introduces students to the legal assistant career including what the profession is about, what the legal assistant does and how the legal assistant can create a future in an ethical context. August, January, May.

Online 2 Credits
PL 112 Computer Basics in Law
Online | 2 Credits
Show Course Description

This course will provide all students with access and training in Westlaw, access to library materials, and an understanding of other computer assisted legal research databases. Students enrolled receive passwords to Westlaw®, a premier online database for a wide range of resources for legal research, including federal and state statutes, cases, regulations, law journals, and legal news sources. Alternate Format. August every year and January, as needed.

Online 2 Credits
PL 200 Law, Ethics, and Society
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

The study of law and the legal system. Introduces case law, analysis and ethical consideration in our world. Provides an overview of the courts, civil and criminal procedure, torts, contracts, property law and the individual’s rights. An excellent course for any student because of its practical, universal content and for students who are interested in attending law school. August, October, January, May every year.

Online 3 Credits
PL 234 Legal Research I
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Students gain an understanding of legal resource materials and basic techniques of legal research through federal and state case law, statutes, encyclopedias, administrative material, Shepards and other sources. Extensive hands-on exercises. Excellent for students planning to attend law school. Course fee.

Online 3 Credits
PL 232 Legal Communication
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

The fundamentals of working and legal vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and diction, proper citation form, writing logically and effectively for the legal setting and reading for comprehension. Writing-intensive course culminating with research presented in a professional memorandum format. January, every year. Course fee. Prerequisite: PL 231.

Online 3 Credits
PL 235 Legal Research II
Online | 2 Credits
Show Course Description

This course continues to explore the variety of legal reference sources. It focuses on locating, analyzing and updating statutory and administrative law. Students practice researching various legal materials. There is an inclusion of directed research toward briefing cases and researching issues for memoranda. This course also covers basic practices in legal correspondence. Same text as Legal Research I. Prerequisite: PL 234.

Online 2 Credits
PL 302 Computers in the Law
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

In this largely hands-on experience, students will be exposed to the many ways that computers are being used in law offices and other legal settings. The primary focus is Westlaw®, but students will be introduced to database systems for litigation support and timekeeping, spreadsheets, docket control and others. August and January as needed. Alternative Format. Course fee. Prerequisite: PL 231.

Online 3 Credits
PL 321 Theories of Liability
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Course presents tort law basics and the liability of persons who commit civil wrongs. Course fee. Prerequisite PL 234.

Online 3 Credits
PL 322 Contracts and Commercial Transactions
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Students obtain a general introduction to the basic legal principles of contracts in general and those that are part of modern business transactions; the rights of debtors and creditors; the Uniform Commercial Code Article 2, Sales; Article 3, Negotiable Instruments; and Article 9, Secured Transactions. Course fee. Prerequisite: PL 234.

Online 3 Credits
PL 323 Civil Litigation I
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

This course introduces the civil litigation process in state and federal courts, and proceedings in administrative agencies generally. It focuses on the initial phases of that process. Students will learn to conduct client interviews and pre-litigation investigations, and to draft the pleadings initiating lawsuits and proceedings through pre-trial motion practice. Prerequisite: PL 234.

Online 3 Credits
PL 325 Civil Litigation II
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

This course continues the study of the litigation process with the discovery, trial, and post-trial stages. Discovery topics include interrogatories, depositions, document production (including e-discovery) and inspection requests, physical and mental examinations, and requests for admission. Other topics include evidentiary issues, settlement negotiations, organization of case files, document control systems, trial preparation, trial procedure, and post-trial proceedings. Overviews of administrative hearings and alternative dispute resolution are also presented. Same text as Civil Litigation I. Prerequisite: PL 323.

Online 3 Credits
PL 443 Advanced Research and Writing
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Students will receive additional training in the legal writing of memoranda and briefs along with more in-depth research using Westlaw. Students will receive legal assignments and perform the extensive legal research and writing as if in a legal setting under simulated office time constraints with resulting critiques. Coverage of the appellate process is included. Senior level status. Prerequisite: PL 234.

Online 3 Credits
PL 472 Legal Practicum
Online | 4 Credits
Show Course Description

Students participate in field experience with a lawyer or in a law-related office under the supervision of a lawyer with approval of the paralegal coordinator. Proposed summer or part-time field experience during the year will be assigned approved credit hours in advance, based on legal experience content of the site. Students work in the position for a minimum of 150 hours, are monitored by the on-site supervisor and supplement the field experience with classroom work through weekly seminars. Portfolio completed. Senior year. January, every year. Course fee. Prerequisite: Consent of program coordinator.

Online 4 Credits

Electives

9 Credit Hours required; choose 3

PL 233 Interviewing and Investigation
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Course presents the five-stage interviewing model, an extensive multicultural focus, an emphasis on developmental theory and the concept of negotiation or alternative dispute resolution. Students master an important set of skills basic to all interviewing situations and engage in role-playing situations designed to develop communication skills. October, March, May.

Online 3 Credits
PL 324 Mediation/ADR
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

This course will provide students with a basic understanding of the alternative dispute resolution process, will define the range of ADR programs, explain the cultural context for dispute resolution, present negotiation skills, and prepare students for alternative areas of employment in this evolving area. Fall, odd years. As needed. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

Online 3 Credits
PL 331 Criminal Law
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Course introduces the principles and theories of criminal law, presents the fundamental role that criminal law plays in our democratic process and delineates the limitations placed on the government’s power to use criminal law. August, January, May.

Online 3 Credits
PL 332 Family Law
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

The legal and personal implications of divorce, separation, premarital agreements, child custody, rights of women and counseling are presented. Conducting client interviews, preparing pleas, researching case law and considering tax consequences are experiential components. October, March. Course fee. Prerequisite: PL 231.

Online 3 Credits
PL 341 Corporate Law and Legal Entities
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Course introduces the various forms of business organizations; includes practical techniques used to form and to continue operations of corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies. Explores employment relations, business transactions, financing and property consideration. Spring, odd years. March.

Online 3 Credits
PL 342 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

This non-science survey course provides the student with a general overview of the wide scope of the area of investigative techniques associated with forensic science. Fundamental topics such as fingerprinting, crime scene investigation, observation of scenes, and report writing will be presented. Interwoven in this study is the law and the importance of the system within a system. Spring, even years. Prerequisite: PL 331 or consent of instructor.

Online 3 Credits
EV/PL 350 Environmental Law
Campus | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Provides an overview of environmental law that is relevant to the everyday lives of all citizens. As an overview, offers the curious student the resources needed to explore environmental subject areas or issues more fully. Revolves around the primary federal environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and National Environmental Policy Act. Interesting cases, such as does a cetacean have standing to sue, will be incorporated as learning tools.

Campus 3 Credits
PL 402 Administrative Law
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Administrative law controls the way in which administrative agencies operate and the regulations they issue. Administrative law requires an understanding of all areas of law. Much of our daily activity involves complying with administrative rules or seeking government benefits from administrative agencies. Course provides students with the knowledge and skills needed for effective interaction with administrative organizations. October, March.

Online 3 Credits
PL 420 Intellectual Property
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Course provides a basic introduction to the concepts of intellectual property law by providing an overview of the three primary regimes of the federal intellectual property system: trademark, copyright and patent law, along with a look at related state law, primarily trade secrets. Also looks at IP issues for the artist, performer, manager of contractual relationships; acquisition, copyright and disposition of literary and audio-visual properties; production and distribution agreements; advertising law and rights affecting TV, motion picture, radio and stage business. October, March. Prerequisites: PL 200 and 231.

Online 3 Credits
PL 422 Property Law and Applications
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Course provides a thorough treatment of real estate theory, from the social impact and economic importance of real estate to procedures and applications in the real estate office. Property management, title searching, document drafting and zoning considerations provide the basis for the hands-on portion of the course. March.

Online 3 Credits
PL 430 Women and the Law
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Provides a historical overview of how law and the legal system in the United States have defined women’s status from the Revolutionary War period to the present in such areas as family law, criminal law, property and contract rights, earnings, and rights of citizenship. Examines selected contemporary issues, including statutory, regulatory, and constitutional remedies to gender bias or inequities; family violence, divorce, custody, and economic/employment issues. The effectiveness of the courts, legislatures, and other forums in resolving these issues is also examined. October, January, May.

Online 3 Credits
PL 431 Death and Taxes
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Course presents the fundamentals of wills and trusts, why wills are needed, a review of state and federal income and fiduciary taxes and the method of assisting an attorney in the probate/estate process. Intense document drafting is a major part of this course. August, January.

Online 3 Credits
PL 441 Law Office Administration
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Course presents a comprehensive view of management principles as they apply to the law office. Areas of discussion include strategic planning, environmental design, interpersonal skills, time management, law office automation, marketing and personnel relations. October.

Online 3 Credits
PL 480 Topics in Paralegal Studies
Online | 1-3 Credit
Show Course Description

Course topics rotate according to current needs in the profession. Possible topics are elder law, landlord-tenant law, collections, medico-legal aspects of law, employee benefits/pension law, worker’s compensation and administrative law. As needed. May have course fee. May be repeated with different topics. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

Online 1-3 Credit
PL 499 Independent Study
Online | 1-4 Credit
Show Course Description

Individually supervised advanced study on topic of scholarly and critical interest in a selected area of paralegal studies. As needed. May have a course fee. May be repeated with different topics. Prerequisite: Consent of program coordinator.

Online 1-4 Credit

Information about Course Requirements
We do our best to keep this information updated, but you should always double-check to ensure you are meeting graduation requirements. For the most current course requirements please review the latest undergraduate college catalog.  Always consult your academic advisor when registering for courses or when you have questions about course requirements.

Certificate

If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you can pursue a paralegal studies certificate. To earn this, you must complete 36 credit hours of paralegal studies requirements.

Required Courses

33 credit hours required; All classes listed.

PL 111 Introduction to the Profession
Online | 2 Credits
Show Course Description

Course introduces students to the legal assistant career including what the profession is about, what the legal assistant does and how the legal assistant can create a future in an ethical context. August, January, May.

Online 2 Credits
PL 112 Computer Basics in Law
Online | 2 Credits
Show Course Description

This course will provide all students with access and training in Westlaw, access to library materials, and an understanding of other computer assisted legal research databases. Students enrolled receive passwords to Westlaw®, a premier online database for a wide range of resources for legal research, including federal and state statutes, cases, regulations, law journals, and legal news sources. Alternate Format. August every year and January, as needed.

Online 2 Credits
PL 200 Law, Ethics, and Society
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

The study of law and the legal system. Introduces case law, analysis and ethical consideration in our world. Provides an overview of the courts, civil and criminal procedure, torts, contracts, property law and the individual’s rights. An excellent course for any student because of its practical, universal content and for students who are interested in attending law school. August, October, January, May every year.

Online 3 Credits
PL 234 Legal Research I
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Students gain an understanding of legal resource materials and basic techniques of legal research through federal and state case law, statutes, encyclopedias, administrative material, Shepards and other sources. Extensive hands-on exercises. Excellent for students planning to attend law school. Course fee.

Online 3 Credits
PL 235 Legal Research II
Online | 2 Credits
Show Course Description

This course continues to explore the variety of legal reference sources. It focuses on locating, analyzing and updating statutory and administrative law. Students practice researching various legal materials. There is an inclusion of directed research toward briefing cases and researching issues for memoranda. This course also covers basic practices in legal correspondence. Same text as Legal Research I. Prerequisite: PL 234.

Online 2 Credits
PL 302 Computers in the Law
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

In this largely hands-on experience, students will be exposed to the many ways that computers are being used in law offices and other legal settings. The primary focus is Westlaw®, but students will be introduced to database systems for litigation support and timekeeping, spreadsheets, docket control and others. August and January as needed. Alternative Format. Course fee. Prerequisite: PL 231.

Online 3 Credits
PL 321 Theories of Liability
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Course presents tort law basics and the liability of persons who commit civil wrongs. Course fee. Prerequisite PL 234.

Online 3 Credits
PL 322 Contracts and Commercial Transactions
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Students obtain a general introduction to the basic legal principles of contracts in general and those that are part of modern business transactions; the rights of debtors and creditors; the Uniform Commercial Code Article 2, Sales; Article 3, Negotiable Instruments; and Article 9, Secured Transactions. Course fee. Prerequisite: PL 234.

Online 3 Credits
PL 323 Civil Litigation I
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

This course introduces the civil litigation process in state and federal courts, and proceedings in administrative agencies generally. It focuses on the initial phases of that process. Students will learn to conduct client interviews and pre-litigation investigations, and to draft the pleadings initiating lawsuits and proceedings through pre-trial motion practice. Prerequisite: PL 234.

Online 3 Credits
PL 325 Civil Litigation II
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

This course continues the study of the litigation process with the discovery, trial, and post-trial stages. Discovery topics include interrogatories, depositions, document production (including e-discovery) and inspection requests, physical and mental examinations, and requests for admission. Other topics include evidentiary issues, settlement negotiations, organization of case files, document control systems, trial preparation, trial procedure, and post-trial proceedings. Overviews of administrative hearings and alternative dispute resolution are also presented. Same text as Civil Litigation I. Prerequisite: PL 323.

Online 3 Credits
PL 443 Advanced Research and Writing
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Students will receive additional training in the legal writing of memoranda and briefs along with more in-depth research using Westlaw. Students will receive legal assignments and perform the extensive legal research and writing as if in a legal setting under simulated office time constraints with resulting critiques. Coverage of the appellate process is included. Senior level status. Prerequisite: PL 234.

Online 3 Credits
PL 472 Legal Practicum
Online | 4 Credits
Show Course Description

Students participate in field experience with a lawyer or in a law-related office under the supervision of a lawyer with approval of the paralegal coordinator. Proposed summer or part-time field experience during the year will be assigned approved credit hours in advance, based on legal experience content of the site. Students work in the position for a minimum of 150 hours, are monitored by the on-site supervisor and supplement the field experience with classroom work through weekly seminars. Portfolio completed. Senior year. January, every year. Course fee. Prerequisite: Consent of program coordinator.

Online 4 Credits

Electives

3 Credit Hours required; choose 1

PL 232 Legal Communication
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

The fundamentals of working and legal vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and diction, proper citation form, writing logically and effectively for the legal setting and reading for comprehension. Writing-intensive course culminating with research presented in a professional memorandum format. January, every year. Course fee. Prerequisite: PL 231.

Online 3 Credits
PL 233 Interviewing and Investigation
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Course presents the five-stage interviewing model, an extensive multicultural focus, an emphasis on developmental theory and the concept of negotiation or alternative dispute resolution. Students master an important set of skills basic to all interviewing situations and engage in role-playing situations designed to develop communication skills. October, March, May.

Online 3 Credits
PL 324 Mediation/ADR
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

This course will provide students with a basic understanding of the alternative dispute resolution process, will define the range of ADR programs, explain the cultural context for dispute resolution, present negotiation skills, and prepare students for alternative areas of employment in this evolving area. Fall, odd years. As needed. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

Online 3 Credits
PL 331 Criminal Law
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Course introduces the principles and theories of criminal law, presents the fundamental role that criminal law plays in our democratic process and delineates the limitations placed on the government’s power to use criminal law. August, January, May.

Online 3 Credits
PL 332 Family Law
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

The legal and personal implications of divorce, separation, premarital agreements, child custody, rights of women and counseling are presented. Conducting client interviews, preparing pleas, researching case law and considering tax consequences are experiential components. October, March. Course fee. Prerequisite: PL 231.

Online 3 Credits
PL 341 Corporate Law and Legal Entities
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Course introduces the various forms of business organizations; includes practical techniques used to form and to continue operations of corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies. Explores employment relations, business transactions, financing and property consideration. Spring, odd years. March.

Online 3 Credits
PL 342 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

This non-science survey course provides the student with a general overview of the wide scope of the area of investigative techniques associated with forensic science. Fundamental topics such as fingerprinting, crime scene investigation, observation of scenes, and report writing will be presented. Interwoven in this study is the law and the importance of the system within a system. Spring, even years. Prerequisite: PL 331 or consent of instructor.

Online 3 Credits
PL/EV 350 Environmental Law
Online | 3 Credits
Show Course Description

Provides an overview of environmental law that is relevant to the everyday lives of all citizens. As an overview, offers the curious student the resources needed to explore environmental subject areas or issues more fully. Revolves around the primary federal environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and National Environmental Policy Act. Interesting cases, such as does a cetacean have standing to sue, will be incorporated as learning tools. August, October, odd years.

Online 3 Credits
PL 402 Administrative Law
Online | 3 Credits
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Administrative law controls the way in which administrative agencies operate and the regulations they issue. Administrative law requires an understanding of all areas of law. Much of our daily activity involves complying with administrative rules or seeking government benefits from administrative agencies. Course provides students with the knowledge and skills needed for effective interaction with administrative organizations. October, March.

Online 3 Credits
PL 420 Intellectual Property
Online | 3 Credits
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Course provides a basic introduction to the concepts of intellectual property law by providing an overview of the three primary regimes of the federal intellectual property system: trademark, copyright and patent law, along with a look at related state law, primarily trade secrets. Also looks at IP issues for the artist, performer, manager of contractual relationships; acquisition, copyright and disposition of literary and audio-visual properties; production and distribution agreements; advertising law and rights affecting TV, motion picture, radio and stage business. October, March. Prerequisites: PL 200 and 231.

Online 3 Credits
PL 422 Property Law and Applications
Online | 3 Credits
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Course provides a thorough treatment of real estate theory, from the social impact and economic importance of real estate to procedures and applications in the real estate office. Property management, title searching, document drafting and zoning considerations provide the basis for the hands-on portion of the course. March.

Online 3 Credits
PL 430 Women and the Law
Online | 3 Credits
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Provides a historical overview of how law and the legal system in the United States have defined women’s status from the Revolutionary War period to the present in such areas as family law, criminal law, property and contract rights, earnings, and rights of citizenship. Examines selected contemporary issues, including statutory, regulatory, and constitutional remedies to gender bias or inequities; family violence, divorce, custody, and economic/employment issues. The effectiveness of the courts, legislatures, and other forums in resolving these issues is also examined. October, January, May.

Online 3 Credits
PL 431 Death and Taxes
Online | 3 Credits
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Course presents the fundamentals of wills and trusts, why wills are needed, a review of state and federal income and fiduciary taxes and the method of assisting an attorney in the probate/estate process. Intense document drafting is a major part of this course. August, January.

Online 3 Credits
PL 441 Law Office Administration
Online | 3 Credits
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Course presents a comprehensive view of management principles as they apply to the law office. Areas of discussion include strategic planning, environmental design, interpersonal skills, time management, law office automation, marketing and personnel relations. October.

Online 3 Credits
PL 480 Topics in Paralegal Studies
Online | 1-3 Credit
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Course topics rotate according to current needs in the profession. Possible topics are elder law, landlord-tenant law, collections, medico-legal aspects of law, employee benefits/pension law, worker’s compensation and administrative law. As needed. May have course fee. May be repeated with different topics. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

Online 1-3 Credit
PL 499 Independent Study
Online | 1-4 Credit
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Individually supervised advanced study on topic of scholarly and critical interest in a selected area of paralegal studies. As needed. May have a course fee. May be repeated with different topics. Prerequisite: Consent of program coordinator.

Online 1-4 Credit

Information about Course Requirements
We do our best to keep this information updated, but you should always double-check to ensure you are meeting graduation requirements. For the most current course requirements please review the latest undergraduate college catalog.  Always consult your academic advisor when registering for courses or when you have questions about course requirements.

Career Paths

Paralegals work just about everywhere, because everyone deals with the law. Careers in paralegal studies can be found at law offices, legal departments in financial institutions, real estate offices, government and corporations. Some paralegal graduates work in general practice law firms and others choose family law or legal aid. Others are drawn to the excitement of the court room and choose to enter litigation. Additional focuses include, personal injury, medical malpractice, and criminal law. Your job opportunities as a paralegal are vast and expanding.

The paralegal studies profession has grown rapidly in recent years.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this trend will continue beyond 2018.  Paralegal jobs are in diverse areas including, but not limited to:

  • Law offices
  • Banks
  • IRS
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Private investigating firms
  • Insurance companies
  • Libraries
  • Arbitration
  • Retail stores
  • Courts
  • State and federal government
  • Colleges
  • Legal aid societies
  • Corporations
  • TV, radio, and newspaper media
  • Title companies
  • Administrative agencies
  • Freelance paralegal business
FAQ

Will a paralegal studies degree prepare me for law school?
There is no magic major which will insure your acceptance into law school. Law school classes are composed of students from all traditional college majors. Each law school has its own criteria for admission. The commonalties for all law schools are grade point average, LSAT scores, letters of recommendation, work experience, and state of residency. Other criteria are also considered, such as extracurricular activities and personal essay.

Admission committees are usually impressed with applicants who can demonstrate that their thinking and reasoning skills have been challenged in a diverse curriculum emphasizing writing, speaking, synthesizing, analyzing, advocating and negotiating. A broad liberal arts curriculum provides these skills.

Paralegal studies majors reinforce these skills in the legal specialty courses. The major is small enough to allow students to pursue other courses of interest which also emphasizes thinking, writing, and speaking. The paralegal studies major gives students a decided edge in the first year of law school because of the students’ knowledge of the basics of law, the terminology, the initial research and computer skills, as well as some work experience in a legal setting.

What are some tips for students considering paralegal studies?
First, do your best, academically. Attend class, be alert and engaged with class materials, be on time with assignments, and show initiative. The Mentor Program and Practicum can provide you with experiences in actual work settings and many courses in the major require projects that get students into the community. These real life situations allow you to make important community contacts. Participate and show leadership in various extra-curricular activities.

Second, pick an area of interest to you for a second major or a minor. Because paralegal studies majors learn skills that are useful in a variety of employment settings, many major or minor areas will create good combinations. For example:

  • Business (any major): a career in accounting, personnel, human resources, management, or marketing.
  • Computer Information Systems: support in any employment scene that is continually being transformed by computers and their impact.
  • Art and Graphic Design: a career in any area that is based in visual matters.
  • Equine Studies: a career in the legal/management aspect of stables, and buying and selling of horses.
  • History/Political Science: work in government, as a lobbyist, or use as a basis for law school.
  • Human Services: a career in shelters, social service agencies, or senior centers.
  • Professional Writing: careers as writers or editors in the publishing industry.
  • Psychology: a career in law enforcement, investigation, shelter settings, or the juvenile justice system.
  • Sociology: an understanding of group behavior, the structure of society, organizational systems and for public-interest advocacy work.
  • Spanish or French: careers in firms that deal with Hispanic or French communities, have overseas offices, or perform in consulate work.