Paralegal Studies

Degrees and Certificates

Classes

PLS 100 : Introduction to Legal Studies and Ethics

Introduction to Legal Studies and Ethics is a survey of the U.S. legal system, the substantive and procedural law of Massachusetts, and the role of the paralegal in the legal profession. Topics include professional ethics, civil and criminal procedures, constitutional law, as well as basic legal analysis, research, and writing. In addition, the course will provide an overview of substantive law's areas of practice: family law, real estate law, criminal law, estate planning, business law, torts, contracts, and bankruptcy law. Three lecture hours per week. Fall, Spring, Summer

Credits

3
  1. Identify typical responsibilities of the paralegal and other legal professions.
  2. Identify and describe the functions of trial and appellate level courts in federal and judicial systems.
  3. Demonstrate how a civil claim is processed through pretrial, trial and appellate states.
  4. Demonstrate how a criminal charge is processed through arrest, indictment, trial and appellate stages.
  5. Identify potential and actual situations of conflict of interest and breaches of law and confidentiality.

PLS 101 : Civil Litigation and Procedure

This course presents an overview of the stages of civil litigation and the rules of civil procedure. Students learn how to gather information and evidence in a civil lawsuit. Students gain a thorough understanding of the discovery process and prepare appropriate discovery materials and respond to discovery requests. Students draft complaints, answers, and motions and file and obtain service of court documents. Three hours of lecture per week. Fall

Credits

3

Prerequisites

Corequisites

  1. Work with the civil clerk’s office and other agencies in filing documents and obtaining information.
  2. Draft civil litigation legal documents, correspondence, and pleadings.
  3. Summarize depositions, interrogatories, and other legal memoranda.
  4. Manage a civil litigation file from opening to closing.

PLS 102 : Torts Law

This course introduces students to American Civil Law. Torts is the study of civil wrongs, as distinct from criminal or contract law. This course will review the elements of torts, damages, remedies, and ethics. The course covers theories of tort liability including intentional torts, negligence, strict liability, product liability, professional malpractice, defamation, nuisance and related torts. Students will learn and practice the role of the paralegal in the preparation of a tort claim. Three lecture hours per week. Fall, Spring

Credits

3

Prerequisites

Corequisites

  1. Identify intentional torts, unintentional torts and strict liability torts.
  2. Analyze and explain the rules of negligence and apply them to specific fact patterns.
  3. Apply knowledge of the law and legal services in providing direct assistance to attorneys as it relates to tort liability.
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of the pre-trial process and pleading involved in a civil case.
  5. Analyze a case and write a case brief.

PLS 105 : Law Office Management

This course will familiarize the student with the operations of a law office including establishing an understanding of basic management principles and concepts, personnel management, client relationship and communication skills, legal fees (timekeeping and billing practices), client trust funds and law office accounting, and office systems and technology. This course also familiarizes students with calendaring, docket control, and case management and records file management. Three lecture hours per week. Fall, Spring, Summer

Credits

3
  1. Acquire a baseline of knowledge and skills in law office technology for application in subsequent courses, internships and employment.
  2. Apply management principles, technology and ethics relating to law office operations.
  3. Implement use of technology in the management and administration of the law office.
  4. Successfully perform conflict checks for typical law office fact situations.
  5. Successfully perform docketing and calendaring.
  6. Create time sheets and apply ethical principles to timekeeping and billing; prepare client billing documents.
  7. Create and balance trust account ledgers.

PLS 120 : Basic Legal Research

This course presents a practical, hands-on approach to developing basic legal research skills and understanding relevant legal terminology. Students are introduced to a wide array of primary and secondary law resources, first using law books and then moving to electronic resources. Assignments require students to refine their skills by focusing on specific legal issues and finding key points of law. The course emphasizes the use of legal citators and cite checking. Three hours of lecture per week. Spring

Credits

3

Prerequisites

Corequisites

  1. Use finding tools to locate “good” law.
  2. Plan a strategy to organize and conduct basic legal research and cite-checking.
  3. Use print and electronic resources to locate primary and secondary authority sources.

PLS 121 : Family Law and Procedure

This course presents an overview of family law with particular emphasis on the procedural aspects of the marriage contract, property rights of the parties, legal roles of husband and wife, adoption, protection from abuse, alimony, child support, and termination of marriage. The role of the paralegal in a family law office is studied. Three lecture hours per week. Spring

Credits

3

Prerequisites

Corequisites

  1. Work with the appropriate family court clerk’s office to file documents and obtain information.
  2. Draft legal documents and correspondence for marriage dissolutions and adoptions.
  3. Work empathetically with clients.

PLS 220 : Bankruptcy Law

This course offers an overview of bankruptcy law and procedure to prepare paralegal students to assist attorneys representing debtors and creditors. It will cover commencement of a case, preparation of petitions and schedules, operating and liquidating procedures, adversary matters and litigation in bankruptcy court and debtors' and creditors' rights and obligations. Forms utilized in bankruptcy court will be stressed. The course reviews the current Federal bankruptcy code including recent amendments. Three lecture hours per week. Fall, Spring

Credits

3

Prerequisites

Corequisites

    Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Understand and be able to distinguish the different types of bankruptcies.
  2. Examine the ethical considerations involved in the filing of bankruptcy petitions and creditor practices.
  3. Gather the information necessary to complete the bankruptcy petition and schedules.
  4. Prepare and file petitions. schedules, notices, and budgets for Chapters 7 and 13 bankruptcies.
  5. Draft the Chapter 13 plan and supporting declarations.

PLS 230 : Criminal Law and Procedure

This course provides an overview of criminal law and procedures from the perspective of legal practitioners with special focus on the respective rights and duties of the defense and prosecution. It explains the fundamental basis and purpose of criminal law in our society and examines the major categories of crime from the common law through their modern codification. It also covers the development and present state of the law as it applies to arrest, search and seizure, statements by the accused and others, the right to counsel, trial proceedings and issues, sentencing, punishment, and appeal. Three lecture hours per week. Spring

Credits

3

Prerequisites

Corequisites

  1. Work with the district attorney and the police.
  2. Prepare appropriate legal documents and correspondence.
  3. Identify the major categories of crime.
  4. Locate statutes dealing with crimes, defenses, and punishment.
  5. Explain the Constitutional rights of the accused from pre-arrest through trial.
  6. Explain the court process from arraignment through appeal.

PLS 231 : Interviewing and Investigation

In this course students learn the basic skills required in interviewing and investigation. Topics include establishing rapport with the client, questioning techniques (including dealing with a reluctant witness), finding/preserving information, and ethics. Using mock exercises, students will interview and investigate in a variety of legal situations. Three lecture hours per week. Spring

Credits

3

Prerequisites

PLS 101 and PLS 120 with a grade of C or better.
    Students will be able to:

  1. Prepare a checklist for interviewing and investigating
  2. Interview clients and witnesses
  3. Locate and preserve evidence according to the Federal rules

PLS 232 : Advanced Legal Research and Writing

This course builds on the legal research and reasoning skills developed in PLS 120. Students are required to apply legal analysis and develop proper writing style by drafting case briefs, legal correspondence, motions and pleadings, and legal memoranda. Students become familiar with other common legal forms and appellate briefs. Three lecture hours per week. Fall; Spring

Credits

3

Prerequisites

  1. Use legal research materials to assist in writing legal correspondence and legal memoranda.
  2. Draft basic legal correspondence and internal office memoranda.
  3. Use practice sets to assist with completing forms and preparing legal materials.

PLS 234 : Legal Ethics

This course presents the ethical considerations and dilemmas faced by paralegals in their work environment. Students will explore complex ethical issues using case studies, literature, and films. Three lecture hours per week. Fall

Credits

3

Prerequisites

  1. Assist attorney in the prevention of ethical violations in the legal profession.
  2. Recognize paralegal ethical violations in order to prevent their occurrence.

PLS 235 : Immigration Law

This course presents the immigration and nationality laws of the United States focusing on the administrative agencies involved in administering those laws. Topics include the immigrant selection system, visas, exclusion, removal, change of status, and refugee/asylum status. Special emphasis given to the paralegal's role in working with aliens and preparing major immigration forms. Three lecture hours per week. Fall

Credits

3

Prerequisites

  1. Work with the appropriate agencies in assisting the attorney with immigration/deportation issues.
  2. Prepare a full application for a green card including affidavit of support.
  3. Review a criminal record and make an analysis of defenses available.
  4. Instruct clients on the INS interview process and preparation of the petition.
  5. Recognize paralegal ethical violations in order to prevent their occurrence.
  6. Explain the process for posting bail bonds and getting the money returned.

PLS 240 : Real Estate Law

This course presents substantive law related to real estate property, including types of ownership, purchase and sales documentation, title examination, deed and mortgage preparation, and closing procedures and documentation. Sample forms including leases, purchase and sale agreements, and closing forms are reviewed and drafted. Three lecture hours per week. Spring

Credits

3

Prerequisites

Corequisites

  1. Draft a purchase and sale agreement.
  2. Perform a title search at the Register of Deeds.
  3. Draft a mortgage and note.
  4. Prepare a closing worksheet.
  5. Record documents after closing.

PLS 241 : Wills, Estates, and Trusts

This course provides a theoretical and practical understanding of the laws of inheritance and estate planning. Students prepare a basic will and trust document and learn the procedure for probate. Estate planning, the role of the probate courts, and basic inheritance issues are explored and discussed. Three lecture hours per week. Fall

Credits

3

Prerequisites

Corequisites

  1. Fill out will planners.
  2. Fill out probate and administration petitions and all affiliated documents.
  3. Draft a will and revocable living trust.
  4. Explain what measures a client can take to avoid estate taxes with proper estate planning.
  5. File documents with the appropriate court and maintain oversight until final disposition.

PLS 242 : Business Organization for Paralegals

This course provides an overview of the legal environment of business. Students will concentrate on various legal entities, their advantages, similarities, and differences, and the laws specific to each entity. Students will become familiar with agencies governing businesses and prepare common legal documents. Three lecture hours per week. Fall, Spring

Credits

3

Prerequisites

Corequisites

  1. Draft a simple partnership agreement.
  2. Prepare documents associated with corporations.
  3. Work with the state agency that governs corporations.
  4. Work with the state agency that governs employment and job discrimination.

PLS 243 : Paralegal Internship

This internship places students in a law office or in a law-related setting in corporations, courts, banks, government agencies, etc. to further enhance their paralegal training in a work environment under the supervision of a faculty member and an assigned practicing attorney. Fall, Spring

Credits

3

Prerequisites

A minimum GPA of 3.0 and sophomore status, and approval of the program director/department chair. Open only to Paralegal Studies students.
  1. Prepare a resume and cover letter.
  2. Research various legal settings and find a match to his/her career interests.
  3. Prepare for an interview.
  4. Be hired for an internship position.
  5. Create learning outcomes for the internship experience in conjunction with the faculty mentor and the attorney mentor.