Paralegal Studies Certificate

Advance your paralegal career with a post-degree certificate

Program facts  Liberal Arts icon


  • Credit hours: 24
  • Stackable to degree: No
  • Potential job outcomes: 
    Paralegal

Get a comprehensive overview of the paralegal studies field with this 24-credit-hour certificate program. This post-degree program is designed for individuals currently employed or employable in the legal field, or those with legal experience who could benefit from this specialty option.

Take courses in paralegal studies, fundamentals of legal research, litigation, today’s law office and computer-assisted legal research. All courses are taught by experienced instructors who are experts in their respective fields. You’ll also complete a paralegal studies internship before finishing the program.

Post-degree certificate program requirements

This 24 credit-hour certificate program is designed for those individuals who are currently employed or employable in the legal field or those who, because of legal experience, could benefit from these specialty options. The various choices available allow the student to develop special interests and skills.

To receive a certificate in Paralegal Studies, students must have earned an Associate in Applied Science degree, an Associate in Arts or Science degree, or a bachelor’s degree which includes general education courses equivalent to those required in Harper College’s Associate in Applied Science degree in Paralegal Studies. Verification of the degree must be submitted before the certificate will be awarded.

Students who complete the 24 credit-hour certificate are eligible to use our computerized placement service and otherwise work as paralegals for a practicing attorney. Students should be aware that there are legal restrictions on the practice of law by laymen.

Students pursuing this certificate program should be aware that the American Bar Association requires that a minimum nine (9) credit hours must be completed face-to-face or in a synchronous/live online modality.

Students electing to earn a certificate in Paralegal Studies are eligible to apply credits earned toward completion of the Associate in Applied Science degree.

F = Fall only course S = Spring only course U = Summer only course

Required:

Number Course Title Credits
PLS 101 3

Description: Surveys the functions of law; courts and lawyers in modern society; analysis of the origin, training and role of the paralegal; professional responsibilities of the lawyer; outline of the fields and specializations within the practice of law; and an introduction to legal research and writing upon a review of the sources (primary and secondary) and legal resources (print and online) available at Harper College.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 103 3

Description: Emphasizes the role of the paralegal in litigation. Analyzes civil procedure and instruction in preparation of documents used in lawsuits, covering pre- and post-trial matters, evidentiary problems and assistance during trials.

Prerequisite: PLS 101 with a grade of C or better, or consent of program coordinator.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 115 3

Description: Instructs in the basic techniques and skills necessary to conduct legal research and to summarize the results of that research in appropriate written form. Teaches students to use legal research tools (both online/Westlaw and print) and develop legal reasoning skills to craft written documents such as legal correspondence, legal memoranda, a 50-state survey, and case briefs. Develops practical skills through sequential written assignments which build analytical, research, and writing skills throughout the semester.

Prerequisite: PLS 101 with a grade of C or better.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 208 or

Description: Provides supervised experience in a legal setting to enhance students' technical paralegal skills. Students must complete a journal documenting their internship work, and a final portfolio of their work suitable to show a prospective employer.

Prerequisite: PLS 101, PLS 103, PLS 115, and a PLS elective with grades of C or better.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 215  F   3

DescriptionThis course is only offered in the fall term.
Provides the paralegal student with exposure to and training in working within a law office. The Law Office is online and virtual, yet it still is a working law firm. Reviews the intricacies of medium-sized law firm with a strong emphasis on litigation and contract work as well. Upon the completion of this course, the student should retain an understanding of working through legal analysis to solve the problems of clients coming into a law firm. The course shall emphasize the need of the written project as well, including, but not limited to, client letters, motions, memorandums, briefs, deposition summaries and other legal documents produced by paralegals. The student will be familiar with information relevant to law practices including case law, statutes, news sources, administrative law and public records.

Prerequisite: PLS 101, PLS 103, PLS 115 and a PLS elective with grades of C or better.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 216 3

Description: Covers the rules of legal ethics and the regulation of the legal profession. Students learn about law office management technology (including billing, timekeeping, files and records management). Complete legal writing tasks typically assigned in a law firm setting (focusing on ethics-based writing assignments).

Prerequisite: PLS 101 with a grade of C or better, or consent of program coordinator.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

Electives: Select at least 9 credit hours from the following courses, providing the combination has the approval of the coordinator or an academic advisor.

Number Course Title Credits
LEJ 201 1 or

Description: Examines local, state and federal criminal law. Topics include a definition of the crimes, their elements, and attendant circumstances and related defenses.

Prerequisite: LEJ 101 with a grade of C or better.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

LEJ 202 3

Description: Examines and analyzes federal and state law relating to arrest, search and seizure, First Amendment activities, interrogation, civil liability of police, and trial procedures.

Prerequisite: LEJ 101 with a grade of C or better.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 105  F   3

DescriptionThis course is only offered in the fall term.

Emphasizes the role of the paralegal in family law. Examines domestic relations law with emphasis on marriage, divorce, annulment, separation agreements, adoption and other legal matters involving the family.

Prerequisite: PLS 101 with a grade of C or better, or consent of program coordinator.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 110 3

Description: Prepares students to apply popular software packages or suites as they relate to law offices. Introduces software applications specific to the legal field. Teaches students to format legal documents, e-file, and use timekeeping, billing, e-discovery, litigation support, and case management software.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 123  S   3

DescriptionThis course is only offered in the spring term.
Provides historical study of common law estates and interests. Emphasizes the role of and relationship between the attorney and the paralegal in preparing the more common types of real property transactions and conveyances such as deeds, contracts and leases; drafting problems involving these various instruments; and a study of the system of recording and search of public documents. Students must draft a set of residential closing documents.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 200  S   3

DescriptionThis course is only offered in the spring term.

Emphasizes the role of the paralegal in probate matters. Surveys the principles, history and sources of probate law; examines probate court forms and tax returns; and details instruction in gathering information and preparing documents for the paralegal's supervising attorney.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 201 3

Description: Emphasizes the role of the paralegal in tort law. Studies basic tort principles; examines pleading forms used in litigation of various tort actions.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 202  S   3

DescriptionThis course is only offered in the spring term.

Emphasizes the role of the paralegal in estate planning. Examines common forms of wills and trusts; survey of legal principles applicable thereto; and instruction in draftsmanship of documents by the paralegal for the supervising attorney.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 205 3

Description: Surveys the principles, history, and sources of contract law. Examines the elements of a valid, enforceable contract. Provides instruction regarding the drafting of contracts. Examines Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code regarding the sale of goods. Emphasizes the role of the paralegal in contract law.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 206  S   3

DescriptionThis course is only offered in the spring term.

Studies American environmental law. Students will learn about the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, the Endangered Species Act, wetlands, asbestos, and environmental racism. Emphasis is placed on the role of the paralegal in an environmental law practice. Ethical issues dealing with environmental law are also presented and discussed.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 210 3

Description: Prepares paralegal students to aid in incorporation, corporate record keeping and compliance with administrative regulations. This includes the understanding of statutes, rules, forms and releases pertaining to the principal acts administered by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 212 3

Description: Studies law office management relying on the system analysis approach to examine design, methods and develop processes necessary for integrating the paralegal into the hierarchy of the organization of a law office with emphasis on defining functions of the lawyer, paralegal and legal secretary.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 221  F   3

DescriptionThis course is only offered in the fall term.
Surveys the principles, history and sources of bankruptcy law in the United States. Examines the law relating to Chapters 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, and 15 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. Provides instruction in the drafting of the schedules needed for Chapter 7, 9, 11, 12 and 13 filings. Provides students with practical experience using bankruptcy software. Examines the jurisdiction of the federal bankruptcy courts. Stresses the role of the paralegal in bankruptcy law.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 222  S   3

DescriptionThis course is only offered in the spring term.

Provides historical study of the development of intellectual property law in the United States. Emphasizes the role of the paralegal in preparing applications for patent, copyright, and trademark protections with federal and state governments. Provides an overview of the role of the paralegal in preparing for litigation involving intellectual property law issues. Reviews ethical issues that arise in the intellectual property arena.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 224 3

Description: Studies American commercial real estate law. Students will learn the anatomy of a commercial real estate transaction; the role of a paralegal in a commercial real estate transaction; the importance of title searches and surveys; and the role of leases, easements, and licenses. Students will also review the process utilized to obtain commercial real estate mortgages and the role of a paralegal in preparing for a commercial real estate closing. Emphasis is placed on the role of the paralegal in commercial real estate transactions. Ethical issues dealing with commercial real estate are also presented and discussed.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 225 3

Description: Explores the immigration and naturalization process in the United States. Introduces visa categories and requirements, other paths to immigration, and immigration barriers. Teaches students about citizenship and the requirements for an immigrant to become a citizen. Examines the constitutional and international law foundations underlying immigration regulation, the history of immigration law in the U.S., the source and scope of congressional and executive branch power in the realm of immigration, and the role of the judiciary in making and interpreting immigration law. In the course of that exploration, citizenship and naturalization will be addressed, as well as the admission and removal of immigrants and nonimmigrants, and the issues of undocumented immigration and national security. Analyzes the impact of immigration in other areas, including employment, criminal law, family unification, international human rights law, and discrimination.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 230 3

Description: Studies selected problems or topics in paralegal studies. The exact content and instructional methodology will vary semester to semester depending on the material to be studied. A syllabus or course outline containing additional information will be available with pre-registration materials each time that the course is offered. This course may be repeated two times to a maximum of six credit hours.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Summer 2021

1 - Students may take LEJ 201 or LEJ 202, but not both. Prerequisite of LEJ 101 will be waived for Paralegal Studies certificate students.

Related programs

Students interested in paralegal studies may also be interested in:

Resources

Next steps

For more information about this program, contact Admission Outreach at 847.925.6700, or submit a request information form. You can also apply online.