Paralegal Studies

PLGN 100 Introduction to Paralegal Studies (3 Credits)

Focuses on the origin and development of the paralegal profession, introducing students to the parameters of the paralegal’s responsibility by covering the court system, reading and briefing cases, civil procedure, criminal procedure, law office administration, interviewing, legal analysis, legal research, legal writing, the different paralegal law practice specialties, legal ethics and communication skills. Students learn job-search and career development techniques for paralegals, including drafting resumes and cover letters.

PLGN 101 Introduction to Law and Ethics (3 Credits)

Introduces students to the structure of the US legal system and its historical antecedents through the analysis of a litigated case as it moves forward from the initial presentation of a claim or concern to a lawyer, covering informal fact gathering and investigation, case evaluation and strategy, parties, jurisdiction, pleadings, procedure motions, provisional remedies, evidence, discovery, settlement attempts, trial preparation, trials and appeals, enforcement of judgments, and alternatives to the traditional method of dispute resolution.

PLGN 102 Legal Research (3 Credits)

The basic form of communication in the legal field is writing. This course covers the initial steps in briefing a case, researching and analyzing the various sources of law including constitutions, statutes, regulations, secondary resources including digests and miscellaneous research tools, validating research, computer assisted research tools, research strategies, basic legal writing and writing to the courts.

PLGN 103 Legal Writing (3 Credits)

Focus on how to draft legal documents including but not limited to briefs, motions, restraining orders, wills, contracts and incorporation papers.

PLGN 200 Civil Litigation (3 Credits)

Civil litigation is the legal method of resolving a dispute. Although most litigation does not end in trial, the preparation for trial is an essential ingredient in reaching a settlement. This course covers the functions of the paralegal in litigation: investigating of a case or claim, developing the initial evidence, drafting complaints, answers, replies and the steps involved in preparing documents for multi-party practice. Motion practice and related legal steps are covered, as well as steps and types of discovery, steps in resolving a case without trial, the paralegal’s role during trial and any subsequent appeal, and forms of dispute resolution other than civil trial.

PLGN 201 Real Property Law (3 Credits)

Ordinary real estate transactions beginning with the introduction of law or real property, concurrent ownership, surveys and land descriptions, public regulation, and encumbrances, including easements and licenses. Preparation and review of contracts to purchase real estate and drafting and reviewing deeds are emphasized, as well as real estate closings and forms. Hybrid forms of real estate transactions such as condominiums and cooperatives, and leases are also reviewed. Ancillary subjects such as financing, mortgage forms, title examination and title insurance are explained.

PLGN 202 Contracts (3 Credits)

The basic legal relationship in a market economy such as that in the United States is expressed in contracts, which are usually in written form. Topics include the nature of a contract, contractual capacity, mutual assent, consideration, illegality of the bargain, third parties, performance, discharges, and the use of agents. Other types of responsibility and obligation are considered, including bankruptcy and consumer protection, torts, negligence, strict liability and criminal. An initial review of the legal system as an institution, constitutional law, and civil dispute resolution, are provided.

PLGN 203 Business Organizations (3 Credits)

Several types of entities are permitted by law to conduct business, with each entity having different characteristics, powers and liabilities. This course deals with the formation and liabilities of sole proprietorships, and the law of partnerships, their liabilities, taxes, termination of them, as well as relationships among partners and with third parties. Included are limited partnerships as well as traditional partnerships. Corporations, their formation, pre-formation responsibilities, powers, ownership, management, shareholders, officers, directors and termination of them are considered. Closed corporations and professional corporations are highlighted. Selected topics include employment agreements, structure, trade secrets protection, restrictive covenants, compensation plans, dividends and other distributions, stock splits, and limited liability companies.

PLGN 204 Probate Procedures (3 Credits)

The transfer of property and assets upon the death of an individual is covered. The structure of the Surrogate’s Court, the specialized court which handles probate proceedings, is analyzed. The functions of a will are discussed and the elements necessary to draft and execute a legal will, including testamentary capacity, is covered. Probate proceedings and the drafting and execution of probate forms are covered. Procedures in the event that no will is available upon a person’s death are covered, including the necessary forms for this type of estate. Small estate matters and alternatives to probate are reviewed, as well as Federal and state estate tax proceedings and obligations. The obligations of the Executor/Executrix or Administrator/Administratrix are raised and the procedures for accountings, both simple and contested, are covered.

PLGN 205 Interviewing and Investigation (3 Credits)

The initial work required to determine the viability of a matter for legal actions involves obtaining the relevant facts of the case. This is usually accomplished through a mechanism of interviews and investigations. The ethical and professional responsibility of the paralegal engaged in this process is discussed. Interviewing and investigation before the filing of an action is covered, followed by the coverage of the formal procedures and types of discovery available in both criminal and civil litigation. The rules of evidence which govern the investigation and production of evidence as well as the communication skills necessary for an investigation are established. Formulating an investigation plan, preparing and conducting client and witness interviews, identifying and locating a witness, and working with expert witnesses are all explored. Emphasis is placed on using both public and private sources of information.

PLGN 206 Wills, Trusts and Estates (3 Credits)

The growing number of people who possess assets at time of death has led to an increase in demand for estate planning as well as the importance of wills. Initially, sources and kinds of property are identified and then the types of trusts are examined, as well as their creation, restrictions and termination. Students draft trust instruments utilizing the information presented. An overview of wills and their provisions is provided and the salient factors in drafting, executing and changing a will are examined. Estate planning is covered, including health and guardianship issues and income maintenance. Issues in estate administration, estate taxation, and ethical concerns are discussed.

PLGN 207 Elder Law (3 Credits)

Increasing lifespan in the US has led to the need for assistance and care of a growing number of the elderly. This course explores strategies developed to help people in this category so that their life and possessions are protected. The importance of and the drafting of documents such as Power of Attorney, Health Care proxies and Living Wills is introduced. Guardianships, their powers and restrictions, and drafting of necessary documents for them are covered. Filing for and obtaining Medicaid coverage and other sources of assistance such as long term nursing care insurance, Medicare, and nursing homes are explored. The use of living trusts and the functions of outright gifts are discussed.

PLGN 208 Criminal Law (3 Credits)

The legal reaction to crimes including felonies, misdemeanors, offenses, and violations, and the court structures which are in place to handle these matters. The steps in a criminal prosecution are presented, including the examination of an arrest, grand and petit juries, accusatory instruments, preliminary motions, and negotiations. The paralegal’s role in the criminal process from the defense attorney’s and the prosecution’s standpoint is examined.

PLGN 209 Family Law (3 Credits)

The courts have become the primary agents of resolution for problems in the family. This course covers the defining characteristics of marriages, conventional families and non-marital families. The laws covering divorce and other dissolutions of marriage, such as annulment and legal separation, are reviewed. Issues involving problems of family life including custody, child support, spousal support, child abuse and neglect and establishing paternity are explored. Petitions and other forms used in Family Court are drafted. The divorce process and questions of court jurisdiction are covered and the drafting of initial documents is covered. Creation of a family through adoption is explained.

PLGN 495 Paralegal Internship (3 Credits)

The paralegal internship provides an opportunity to apply the knowledge developed through coursework to actual legal settings such as private law offices of various sizes and complexities, governmental units such as courts, agencies such as clerk’s offices, public defenders units, prosecutors’ offices or quasi-legal functionaries such as title companies. Through these professional experiences students become familiar with codes of ethics and professional responsibility, the issues of unauthorized practices of law, confidentiality, conflicts of interest, advertising and solicitation, fees and client funds, issues of competency and other concerns in the realm of advocacy.

Prerequisite: PLG 100, PLG 101, PLG 102.