The purpose of this course is to provide foundational knowledge of all aspects of the paralegal profession in order to prepare the student for a career as a paralegal. Topics of study include career opportunities, the paralegal workplace, technology, the court system, criminal and civil law, interviewing and investigating skills, and legal writing and research. The course also includes exercises and assignments designed to build critical thinking and hands-on skills.
- Describe the role of the paralegal in the delivery of legal services and the different approaches to the certification and regulation of the paralegal profession
- Explain how the practice of law is regulated
- Define ethics and explain the difference between the attorney’s rules of ethics and the paralegal’s rules of ethics
- Explain the organizational structure of law offices and how technology is used in a law office
- Define the concept of law, the sources of it, and various court systems while avoiding conflicts of interest
- Explain the role of the paralegal in the litigation process and steps in a trial
- Identify and describe the parties and attorneys to a criminal action
- Explain the importance of the initial contact with clients and witnesses
- Describe the types of government regulation of personal, business, estate, and digital properties
Lesson 1: Fundamentals of Being A Paralegal Professional
In this lesson, participants will develop an understanding of the role of a paralegal, regulation of the paralegal profession, and the variety of career opportunities available for a paralegal. Students will also explore how the practice of law is regulated and the concept of ethics as it relates to attorneys and paralegals. You will also discover the ethical and legal importance of upholding client confidentiality.
Lesson 2: The Paralegal Workplace And Technological Impacts
In this lesson, students will be introduced to the typical paralegal workplace. You will also gain a preliminary understanding of the tasks and functions performed by paralegals. Preparing for paralegal interviews will be covered in this lesson as well. Finally, participants will learn how computer technology is used in the law office. You will learn common computer terminology as it relates to law and the different software programs that support legal work. You will discover the importance of proficient computer skills in paralegal practice.
Lesson 3: The American Legal Heritage, Court Systems, and Alternative Dispute Resolutions
This lesson begins with students learning the fundamental sources of law in the United States and develops a basic understanding of the U.S. Constitution. In addition, you will study the protections guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. You will also explore paralegal career opportunities in the field of constitutional law. From there, participants will learn how the court systems operate, with an emphasis on state court systems. Paralegals will need to develop an understanding of trial procedures and how a case gets to the Supreme Court. Towards the conclusion of this lesson, students will learn how paralegals handle arbitration and mediation.
Lesson 4: Civil Litigations, Criminal, and Administrative Law
To begin this lesson, participants will learn about the role of paralegals in civil litigation as well as the types and purposes of civil litigation. You will study the steps involved in a civil court case and also the appeals process. Next, the content procedurally moves to an exciting and important area of the law: criminal law and the criminal trial process. The lesson will focus on the fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments as they deal with personal rights with regard to criminal prosecution. The lesson also includes information about the paralegal’s responsibility when working in the criminal law field. Finally, participants will study the laws that govern business and commerce. and the administrative agencies that regulate business and industry. You will develop an understanding of the functions and powers of administrative agencies as well. The lesson will also take a look at opportunities for paralegals in the area of administrative law.
Lesson 5: Paralegal Skills
Paralegals are often a firm’s first point of contact and therefore are an important part of the interview process. Thus, students will learn how paralegals plan for and conduct interviews for clients, fact witnesses, expert witnesses, and others. This bridges into the next core topic of participants learning the steps and processes for conducting an investigation. From there, content moves towards learning about the various forms of legal documents, including memos, letters, opinions, and briefs. Paralegals must be able to write these documents with clarity and accuracy. Also, you will develop an understanding of the process of critical legal thinking and how it applies to paralegals. The final part of this lesson provides knowledge on how to conduct research for current and factual legal information. You will learn how to analyze primary and secondary resources and understand the difference between these two sources of information. You will also learn how to evaluate online resources for reliability and relevance. At the conclusion of this lesson, students should be able to create a legal research plan that helps to focus on the issues, sources, and methods for a specific legal case.
Lesson 6: Common Business Transactions & Law Cases
The business world revolves around the use of contracts to ensure goods are delivered on time and by the terms and conditions agreed upon. Paralegals must be aware of these in the event malicious acts (torts) or unintentional consequences result. This lesson focuses on when torts are done and product liabilities which may trigger civil and/or criminal cases. Often times, these are done through contracts between suppliers and companies providing said goods and services. As an extension to this, e-commerce, which is becoming far more popular with an option to purchase goods and services, is also in focus here.
Lesson 7: Property, Estate, and Family Law
Property is the possession of tangible and intangible objects that a person, business, or government are entitled to. It is in the hope they receive and procure the property in legal ways. That may not always be the case. Students working through this lesson will gain foundational knowledge as to what a paralegal will need to do when assisting various types of cases related to property. This may be between businesses, individuals, or families. All three of these types of law tie together in the fact that one can’t hold onto property forever and thus, there are proper legal directives which paralegals must be aware of to ensure said property is transferred correctly and ethically to the next party (regardless if parties are alive or not).
Lesson 8: Agency, Employment, and Immigration Law
The core of a business or enterprise is the people that operate the business. Without them, a business wouldn’t even be able to operate. Hence, there are a number of local, state, and federal regulations that business owners, regardless of size, must comply in order to be legally on the right side of the law. Thus, this lesson reviews common tasks and scenarios paralegals must be aware of when dealing with cases in these often hot topics.
Lesson 9: Business Organizations and Bankruptcy Law
Business organizations often go through many ups and downs over the course of their history in the business. Additionally, businesses often change structures as they expand or contract. This lesson reviews knowledge paralegals must have a strong awareness of if they were to handle cases where businesses changed their structure or worse off declare bankruptcy. Participants will also learn about the most commonly used business structures which can be impacted by cases that they may need to work on.
Lesson 10: Intellectual Property & Digital Law
The final lesson of this course focuses on one of the newest segments of law paralegals will need to become familiar with as quickly as possible – intellectual property and digital law. As more of what one does day-to-day goes online, so does the complexity of this law topic. Participants will gain an understanding as to what a paralegal will need to know in this often challenging and complex area of law. Due to its rapidly changing nature, staying on top of this and, of course, other areas discussed in the course will ensure that you, as a paralegal professional will be able to assist with just about any type of case.