Criminal Justice & Law

Introduction to the Paralegal Profession

Paralegals play one of the most important roles in the legal industry. Though individual attorneys are ultimately responsible for the legal work they produce and the strategies they devise, many tasks – from legal research and writing, source citing, filing, and others – are delegated to paralegals.    Paralegals are trained to pursue careers in various legal environments from private law firms to legal departments within corporations or government agencies or as clerks and assistants working directly in the court systems. The legal industry relies heavily on paralegals for their experience and general training in these fields. Paralegals are instrumental in preparing for litigation, providing administrative support during courtroom proceedings, interviewing witnesses, and researching legal issues.  As such, it is imperative for those interested in pursing a career as a paralegal to have a comprehensive understanding of common substantive and procedural law as it pertains to their specific role in the legal environment.  Paralegals who have a fundamental understanding of the substantive and procedural elements applicable to specific areas of law will have a solid foundation on which success can be built.

This course offers an in-depth view of the role of paralegals play within the American legal system. Examining the myriad of skills used by paralegals everyday alongside the typical legal working environment, students will explore the various ethical considerations that may arise as well as the sources of law they’ll reference every day. Students will be offered an offered an overview of traditional state and federal courts as well as the implications and uses for alternative dispute resolution. Students will also be introduced to various career opportunities available to trained paralegals.

Upon completion of the course, the student will be able to:

  • Summarize the role of the paralegal in the American legal system
  • Describe the process of becoming a paralegal professional
  • Prepare a resume for a paralegal position
  • Distinguish among various environments that may use the services of a paralegal
  • Summarize legal accounting procedures
  • Examine how the paralegal profession is regulated
  • Analyze ethical issues commonly encountered by a paralegal
  • Examine the use of technology in the law office
  • Examine the sources of American law
  • Examine federal and state court systems
  • Explain alternative dispute resolution
  • Describe factors that influence communication in an interview
  • Prepare for a client interview
  • Explain the investigation process
  • Describe elements in preparing for trial
  • Explain the trial process
  • Explain the appellate process
  • Differentiate the authority and functioning of administrative agencies
  • Research legal matters
  • Explore styles and formats used in legal writing
  • Draft legal documents


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