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Course Catalog > Professional Development > Legal Studies

Explore a Career as a Paralegal  

Find out if a paralegal career is the perfect choice for you, as you explore the fundamentals of U.S. law and legal terminology.

Careers in the legal field often require many years of training, but paralegals can enter the job market quickly. What's more, paralegals earn good salaries and have many opportunities for advancement. In fact, a skilled paralegal can do almost all the jobs a lawyer does.

In this course, you will discover what paralegals do and find out what you will need to know in order to begin your own paralegal career. You will start by getting an excellent grounding in legal terminology, contract law, and the tort system. Next, you will learn how to perform legal analysis, conduct interviews and investigations, write legal briefs, and prepare for appeals. And finally, you will get tips on internships and job-hunting.

By the time you're finished, you will know if becoming a paralegal is the right career choice for you.


Requirements:

Hardware Requirements:

  • This course can be taken on either a PC or Mac.

Software Requirements:

  • PC: Windows 8 or newer.
  • Mac: OS X Snow Leopard 10.6 or later.
  • Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are preferred. Microsoft Edge and Safari are also compatible.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader. Click here to download the Acrobat Reader.
  • Software must be installed and fully operational before the course begins.

Other:

  • Email capabilities and access to a personal email account.

Prerequisites:

There are no prerequisites to take this course.

Instructional Material Requirements:

The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment and will be available online.


Decide if becoming a paralegal is the right career path for you. This course helps you discover the many aspects of what paralegals do by learning the fundamentals of legal terminology, contract law, how to conduct interviews and investigations, write briefs and prepare for appeals.

What Is a Paralegal?

Lawyers simply don't have time to do everything their job requires them to do. As a result, they often hire paralegals to be their right hands. This lesson begins with a general overview of the paralegal's job responsibilities within the American legal system.

How Do Paralegals Integrate Into a Law Practice?

This lesson discusses the paralegal's work environment in three different types of employment: a law firm, a corporation, and the public sector. You will also explore the paralegal's post-trial duties to give you a comprehensive sense of what a paralegal does on a daily basis.

Legal Terminology

This lesson focuses on simple definitions of the legal terms that you will need to understand and use in your daily work. At the end of this lesson, terms like movant and tortfeasor should roll off your tongue with ease.

Contract Law

Contract law is a large part of most law practices. As a paralegal, you will often assist with preparing contracts. In this lesson, you will learn about the necessary elements that go into a legal, enforceable contract. Since even the most carefully prepared contract can sometimes go awry, you will also get a large dose of contract litigation.

Tort Law

This lesson will discuss the types of tort law actions. You will learn about intentional and quasi-intentional torts, and then you will explore negligent torts. You will also look at a few other areas of tort law, including strict liability, products liability, and nuisance torts.

Analyzing and Drafting Legal Documents

This lesson addresses both legal analysis and drafting legal documents. You will learn how to apply analysis to the drafting of legal documents, as well as an easy-to-remember formula for legal analysis.

Investigating Legal Matters

This lesson covers legal investigation. You will learn the goals of legal investigations as well as the best methods for conducting them. You will look at evidence: how to acquire, mark, protect, and organize it.

Legal Interviewing

This lesson covers legal interviewing. You will begin by discussing the initial client interview, starting with the setting for the interview and its content. Then you will look at the intake memorandum, which paralegals typically draft at the end of the initial client interview.

Conducting Legal Research

Finding this case law is the heart of legal research, and one of the most important tasks assigned to paralegals. This lesson will first discuss legal authority and its various categories, including primary, secondary, mandatory, and persuasive authority.

Writing Legal Briefs

Once you complete your legal research, you must be able to communicate the results in legal briefs. You will begin by looking at the proper format and organization of a legal brief, noting the various sections and citations. Then, you will learn how to make an effective legal argument.

Appellate Procedure

This lesson covers the appellate procedure. You will learn how to prepare an appellate brief, how to form a research plan, and the difference between questions of law and questions of fact.

Job Hunting

This final lesson deals with job hunting. You will gain some useful sources for job leads and discover how to develop good working skills and habits.



Sam Germana is General Counsel for a New Jersey hospital and previously worked for a private law firm representing physicians and hospitals. He has taught paralegal studies online and in the classroom since 1997, and he is an adjunct faculty member at the College of St. Elizabeth.

 

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