Course Syllabus for "PRDV301: Introduction to Paralegal Studies"
With the expansion of law and the legal process into so many areas of everyday life, the responsibilities of the legal profession have expanded to meet new challenges. For example, the advent of the Internet since the early 1990s has raised a multitude of new legal issues related to various areas of intellectual property, including copyright, patent law, and trademark law. In recognition of the fact that many law-related responsibilities can be handled by well-educated and trained non-lawyers, the legal profession has increasingly come to depend on the assistance of paralegals. Paralegals perform key functions within a law office from drafting legal documents to investigating cases and interviewing witnesses. While they are no replacement for lawyers, paralegals have become recognized as key components of a well-functioning legal office. This course will introduce you to the basic knowledge and skills required of paralegals. You will familiarize yourself with basics of the American legal system, as well as the substantive areas of law that are addressed within this system. You will also learn and apply skills, such as researching legal issues, interviewing clients and witnesses, and drafting motions and pleadings. By the end of this course, you will have a clear understanding of what a paralegal does, the skills needed to be a successful paralegal, and what it will take to begin a career as a paralegal.
Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Define what a paralegal is.
- Describe what a paralegal does.
- Identify and describe the requirements for getting into and developing a paralegal career.
- Discuss the basics of the American legal system.
- Describe the jurisdiction of various courts in the American judicial system.
- Explain how the civil process works.
- Explain how the criminal process works.
- Identify and interpret sources of law.
- Discuss basic matters of substantive law.
- Describe how to conduct basic legal research, and conduct this research.
- Describe the elements of successful investigation and interviews.
- Identify and describe the career prospects for paralegals.
- Initiate a job search for paralegal jobs.
In order to take this course, you must:
√ Have access to a computer.
√ Have continuous broadband Internet access.
√ Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash).
√ Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.
√ Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).
√ Have competency in the English language.
√ Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.
Welcome to PRDV301 Introduction to Paralegal Studies. Below, please
find general information on this course and its requirements.
Course Designer: Kevin Moquin
Primary Resources: This course is comprised of a range of different free, online materials. However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:
- American Bar Association’s “Standing Committee on Paralegals”
- American Bar Association’s “ABA Model Guidelines for the Utilization of Paralegal Services”
- The Legal and Ethical Environment of Business
- Business Law and the Legal Environment
- Netplaces.com: Steve W. Schneider’s “Defining the Goals of the Investigation”, “Types of Investigation”, “Investigation Resources”, “Important Investigative Qualities”, “Communicating Your Results”, “The Initial Client Interview”, “The Fact-Gathering Interview”, “Defining the Goals of the Interview”, “Preparing for the Interview”, “Interviewing Experts”, “Communicating Your Results”, “Competence”, and “Client Trust Accounts”
Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you
will need to work through each unit and its assigned materials as
indicated in the instructions. You also need to complete the Final
Note that you will only receive an official grade on your Final Exam. However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through the resources for each unit.
In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.
Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of 30 hours to complete. Each unit is a total of 3 hours and includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit. These should help you plan your time accordingly. It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself.