Paralegal Studies Degree

Paralegal Studies Degree at Harper College

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.

AAS degree program requirements

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.

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

FIRST SEMESTER:

Number Course Title Credits Category
ENG 101 3 Communications

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.

Humanities1 3 Humanities
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 instruction in legal research and writing upon a review of the sources and works of law. Students must take the Paralegal Studies entrance examination.

PSY 101 3 Social and Behavioral Science

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

SOC 101 + 3 Social and Behavioral Science

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

SECOND SEMESTER:

Number Course Title Credits Category
ENG 103 3 Communications

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.

PLS 102 3 Program Requirement

Description: Orients students to law library and various legal publications, treatises and other legal writings encountered in day-to-day practice of law. Emphasizes developing student capability to analyze, interpret and communicate facts, ideas and law through comprehension of legal research techniques.

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

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.

PLS 105  F   3 Program Requirement

Description: 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.

PLS 123  S   3 Program Requirement

Description: Provides historical study of common law estates and interests and statutes. 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; special research projects related to the subject matter; and a study of the system of recording and search of public documents. Students must take the Paralegal Studies entrance examination or have the coordinator's consent prior to registration.

THIRD SEMESTER:

Number Course Title Credits Category
Mathematics2 3 Mathematics
PLS 201  F   3 Program Requirement

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

PLS 205  F   3 Program Requirement

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.

PLS 210  S   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.

PSC 101 3 Social and Behavioral Science

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

FOURTH SEMESTER:

Number Course Title Credits Category
CAS 160 3 Program Requirement

Description: Provides an opportunity to become proficient in the use of currently popular software packages or suites. Includes word processing, spreadsheets, databases, presentation software and the integration of these applications.

LEJ or PLS electives3 6 Program Requirement
PLS 208 4 or

Description: Provides supervised experience in a legal setting to enhance students' technical paralegal skills. One-hour seminar each week devoted to paralegal issues.

Prerequisite: PLS 101, PLS 102, PLS 103, and a PLS elective with grades of C or better.

PLS 215 4  S   3 Program Requirement

Description: 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 102, PLS 103 and a PLS elective with grades of C or better.

PLS 223 3 Program Requirement

Description: Provides the paralegal student with exposure to and training in the use of the computer to perform legal research. Emphasizes Westlaw, LEXIS, and Internet research. Introduces the student to the latest forms of computer-assisted legal research as they become available.

Prerequisite: PLS 102 with a grade of C or better, or consent of program coordinator.

1 - Humanities electives must be chosen from the following ABA-approved humanities, listed with the requirements for AAS degrees: ART 105, ART 114, ART 130, ART 131, ART 132, any FRN, any GER, any HST, any HUM, any JPN, any LIT, LNG 105, MUS 103, MUS 104, MUS 120, any PHI but not PHI 160, any SPA, or either SPE 107 or THE 111.

+ - 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 - LEJ 201 or LEJ 202 (prerequisite of LEJ 101 will be waived for Paralegal Studies degree students), PLS 200, PLS 202, PLS 206, PLS 208, PLS 212, PLS 215, PLS 220, PLS 221, PLS 222, PLS 224, PLS 230.

4 - Required for individuals without any legal experience. Individuals with legal experience may substitute another PLS course with coordinator approval.

Program learning outcomes

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

  • demonstrate the skills necessary to gain employment.
  • 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 or LEXIS.
  • 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.
  • perform basic computer functions necessary for the law office.

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.