Associate in Applied Studies

Earn your degree in paralegal studies

Career options  Liberal Arts icon


  • Document preparation
  • Legal research
  • Investigation
  • Records management

Prepare for a rewarding career in the legal field with this 60-credit-hour degree program in paralegal studies. Approved by the American Bar Association, this program will help you develop the knowledge and skills needed to conduct many significant tasks that assist lawyers with their day-to-day work.

Paralegals conduct legal research and investigations, detail work related to probate matters, prepare tax forms and returns, search public and court records, assist with office management, prepare legal forms and more.

Take courses in paralegal studies, technical and report writing, fundamentals of legal research, litigation, family law, real property law, contract law, contract and securities law and more. All courses are taught by experienced instructors who are experts in the field of paralegal studies.

A.A.S. degree program plan

The 60 credit-hour program is designed to prepare men and women as technically qualified assistants to a lawyer. Under the supervision of a lawyer, the paralegal may perform such functions as legal research, investigation, detail work with regard to probate matters, preparation of tax forms and returns, searching public and court records, office management, library service, bookkeeping, serving and filing legal documents and preparing legal forms.

Students pursuing this degree 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.

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

FIRST SEMESTER:

Number Course Title Credits Category
AAS General Education elective1 3 AAS General Education
ENG 101 3 AAS General Education

Description: Emphasizes the writing of expository prose. Introduction to the critical reading of nonfiction prose. IAI C1 900

Prerequisite: ENG 100 with a grade of C or better. Other placement options. ENG_Placement_Grid.pdf ESL students need one of the following options: ESL 073 and ESL 074 with grades of B or better; ESL 073 and ESL 086 with grades of B or better; ESL 073 and ESL 099 with grades of B or better; ESL 073 with required writing placement test score; or ESL 074 with required reading placement test score.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Spring 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 101 3 Program Requirement

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 | Spring 2021 | Summer 2021

PSY 101 + 3 AAS General Education

Description: Investigates human and animal behavior with emphasis on the scientific nature of contemporary and classic psychological investigation. Emphasizes psychological theories, principles, and research applications. Introduces the divisions of the American Psychological Association. References biological processes, sensation, perception, learning, memory, thinking, emotional life, mental disorders, intelligence, aptitude, personality, development, daily life and everyday problems. IAI S6 900

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Spring 2021 | Summer 2021

SOC 101 + 3 AAS General Education

Description: Analysis and description of the structure and dynamics of human society. Application of scientific methods to the observation and analysis of social norms, groups, inter-group relations, social change, social stratification and institutions. IAI S7 900

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Spring 2021 | Summer 2021

SECOND SEMESTER:

Number Course Title Credits Category
ENG 103 3 Program Requirement

Description: Introduces the various types of writing and communication used in business and technology. Includes instructions, procedures, abstracts, proposals, visuals and reports.

Prerequisite: ENG 101 with a grade of C or better, or consent of instructor or department chair.

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Spring 2021 | Summer 2021

Mathematics2 3 AAS General Education
PLS 103 3 Program Requirement

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 | Spring 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 115 3 Program Requirement

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 | Spring 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 123  S   3 Program Requirement

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 | Spring 2021 | Summer 2021

THIRD SEMESTER:

Number Course Title Credits Category
PLS 105  F   3 Program Requirement

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 | Spring 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 201 3 Program Requirement

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 | Spring 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 205 3 or

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 | Spring 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 215 4  F   3 Program Requirement

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 | Spring 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 210 3 Program Requirement

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 | Spring 2021 | Summer 2021

PSC 101 3 AAS General Education

Description: Focuses on political involvement, elections, campaigns, interest groups, Congress, courts, the presidency, and the constitution. Discusses how our government runs, as well as current political controversies. Utilizes political figures as guest speakers and offers opportunities for political participation, especially in election years. IAI S5 900

Class Schedule:  Fall 2021 | Spring 2021 | Summer 2021

FOURTH SEMESTER:

Number Course Title Credits Category
LEJ or PLS electives5 6 Program Requirement
PLS 110 3 Program Requirement

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 | Spring 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 205 3 or

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 | Spring 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 208 4 3 Program Requirement

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 | Spring 2021 | Summer 2021

PLS 216 3 Program Requirement

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 | Spring 2021 | Summer 2021

1 - One 3-credit hour AAS General Education elective is required. See full list of AAS General Education Electives.

+ - This course meets the World Cultures and Diversity graduation requirement.

2 - Only 100 level or higher mathematics courses are acceptable for the mathematics elective.

3 - PLS 205 is required to be taken in either the third or fourth semester.

4 - PLS 215 or PLS 208 is required for individuals without any legal experience. Individuals with legal experience may substitute another PLS course with coordinator approval.

5 - LEJ 201 or LEJ 202 (prerequisite of LEJ 101 will be waived for Paralegal Studies degree students), PLS 200(S), PLS 202(S), PLS 206(S), PLS 208, PLS 212, PLS 215 (F), PLS 221(F), PLS 222(S), PLS 224, PLS 225, PLS 230.

Program learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete the Paralegal Studies Program will be able to:

  • perform legal research and writing projects, such as a Law Office Memorandum.
  • understand the legal and ethical requirements associated with the practice of law.
  • complete major research projects utilizing Westlaw.
  • understand the role of the paralegal in the law office and how a paralegal can assist an attorney in the practice of law.
  • understand the litigation process and be able to draft pleadings and other documents commonly utilized in litigation.
  • demonstrate effective critical analysis, resolution of legal problems and the ability to communicate these results in a clear and effective manner, both orally and in writing.
  • effectively organize documents needed in the prosecution or defense of a lawsuit.
  • understand common computer terminology utilized in the practice of law.
  • demonstrate competency in using law office technology.
  • demonstrate the skills necessary to gain employment.

Resources

Next steps

For more information about paralegal training at Harper College, contact Admission Outreach at 847.925.6700, or submit a request information form. You can also apply online.