Paralegal Studies Course Requirements

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College has several options for students wishing to undergo paralegal training. The College offers both a bachelor's and associate's degree in paralegal studies for those seeking a degree.  In addition, a post-baccalaureate paralegal studies certificate program is designed for students already holding a bachelor's degree in another field.

American Bar Association Approved Paralegal Education Program

All the paralegal education programs at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College are approved by the American Bar Association. ABA approved paralegal studies programs are recognized by members of the legal community as an indicator of quality paralegal education. All of the paralegal studies programs are offered through our flexible distance education program, Woods Online.  However, while the program originates in the distance offerings, it is not 100% online.  

This program is ABA Approved and this approval process requires that ten (10) hours of legal specialty courses are taken in traditional (face-to-face) format. 

Please contact the program coordinator for more information on courses and meeting dates.

Paralegal Studies Major - (45 credit hours)

The Paralegal Studies bachelor degree program provides an undergraduate major, within the context of the liberal arts education, with a primary focus of the study of law in its relation to politics, society, and history. As a part of liberal arts education, the Paralegal Studies program goes beyond what constitutes law and explores the mutual impacts of law and society. Moreover, the courses in the major encourage students to examine political influences, historical patterns, and economic relations and the moral, philosophical and ethical foundations and implications of law. This major synthesizes the study of the substance and process of law.

Major - Paralegal Required Courses

14 credit hours required; all courses listed.

Introduces the legal assistant career: what the profession is about, what the legal assistant does and how the legal assistant can create a future.

The fundamentals of working and legal vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and diction, proper citation form, writing logically and effectively for the legal setting and reading for comprehension. Writing-intensive course culminating with research presented in a professional memorandum format. Course fee. Prerequisites: PL 200, PL 231.

Presents the five-stage interviewing model, an extensive multicultural focus, an emphasis on developmental theory and the concept of negotiation or alternative dispute resolution. Students master an important set of skills basic to all interviewing situations and engage in role-playing situations designed to develop communication skills.

Presents tort and contract law basics and the liability of persons who commit civil wrongs and/or breach contracts. Course fee. Prerequisites: PL 200, PL 231.

Students learn skills which will prepare them to assist attorneys in all activities relating to civil trial practice from pretrial to trial, appeal and enforcement/compliance procedures. Students draft documents, develop discovery plans, conduct discovery, investigate and develop trial notebooks. Prerequisites: PL 200, PL 231.

Major - Litigation Track

Students choose a track or area of focus in the paralegal program. The litigation track requires the two courses listed below plus six additional credit hours of paralegal electives, for a total of 12 credit hours.

This course will provide students with a basic understanding of the alternative dispute resolution process, will define the range of ADR programs, explain the cultural context for dispute resolution, present negotiation skills, and prepare students for alternative areas of employment in this evolving area. Prerequisite: PL200 or instructor‘s consent.

Administrative law controls the way in which administrative agencies operate and the regulations they issue. Administrative law requires an understanding of all areas of law. Much of our daily activity involves complying with administrative rules or seeking government benefits from administrative agencies. Course provides students with the knowledge and skills needed for effective interaction with administrative organizations. Prerequisite: PL200.

Major - Personal Law Track

Students choose a track or area of focus in the paralegal program. The personal law track requires the four courses listed below; for a total of 12 credit hours.

The legal and personal implications of divorce, separation, premarital agreements, child custody, rights of women and counseling are presented. Conducting client interviews, preparing pleas, researching case law and considering tax consequences are experiential components. Course fee. Prerequisites: PL200, PL 231.

Students will be introduced to the topics of trademarks, copyrights, patents and trade secrets while developing a thorough understanding of the methods by which each is created, the duration of rights, infringement, and international developments in each field. Both theoretical and practical knowledge will drive the learning of the material. Prerequisites: PL 200, 231.

Provides a thorough treatment of real estate theory, from the social impact and economic importance of real estate to procedures and applications in the real estate office. Property management, title searching, document drafting and zoning considerations provide the basis for the hands-on portion of the course. Prerequisites: PL200, PL231.

Concerns the fundamentals of wills and trusts, why wills are needed, a review of state and federal income and fiduciary taxes and the method of assisting an attorney in the probate/estate process. Intense document drafting is a major part of this course. Course fee.

Major - Other Electives Available

The follow paralegal electives are available. You may add any of these electives to the required courses to strengthen your paralegal knowledge. If pursuing the litigation track, students need 6 credit hours of electives.

Provides an overview of environmental law that is relevant to the everyday lives of all citizens. As an overview, offers the curious student the resources needed to explore environmental subject areas or issues more fully. Revolves around the primary federal environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and National Environmental Policy Act. Interesting cases, such as does a cetaccean have standing to sue, will be incorporated as learning tools.

Provides a historical overview of how law and the legal system in the United States have defined women's status from the Revolutionary war period to the present in such areas as family law,criminal law,property and contract rights, earnings, and rights of citizenship. From this historical perspective, selected contemporary issues are examined, including statutory, regulatory, and constitutional remedies to gender bias or inequities; family violence, divorce,custody, and economic/employment issues. The effectiveness of the courts, legislatures, and other forums in resolving these issues is also examined. Fulfills general studies requirements and serves as an elective in Women's Studies minor. Prerequisite: Successful completion of at least one ID3xx course.

Discusses salient issues of the time such as affirmative action, juvenile law, sexual harassment, women and the law, employment discrimination, right to privacy and labor law. Prerequisite: Instructor's consent. Offered as needed. May have a course fee.

Introduces the principles and theories of criminal law, presents the fundamental role that criminal law plays in our democratic process and delineates the limitations placed on the government‘s power to use criminal law.

Introduces the various forms of business organizations; includes practical techniques used to form and to continue operations of corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies. Explores employment relations, business transactions, financing and property consideration. Prerequisite: PL200, PL231.

This non-science survey course provides the student with a general overview of the wide scope of the area of investigative techniques associated with forensic science. Fundamental topics such as fingerprinting, crime scene investigation, observation of scenes, and report writing will be presented. Interwoven in this study is the law and the importance of the system within a system. Prerequisite: PL 200, PL 331 or permission of instructor.

A comprehensive view of management principles as they apply to the law office. Areas of discussion include strategic planning, environmental design, interpersonal skills, time management, law office automation, marketing and personnel relations.

Course topics rotate according to current needs in the profession. Possible topics are elder law, landlord-tenant law, collections, medico-legal aspects of law, employee benefits/pension law, worker‘s compensation and administrative law. May have course fee. May be repeated with different topics. Prerequisite: instructor‘s consent.

Work experience with firm or agency directly related to the student‘s major area of study. The learning experience is structured within the College approved guidelines for the internship program. Through close supervision by the director of interns, faculty advisor and the worksite supervisor, the student works toward achieving goals outlined in the individual learning contract. Normally reserved for third and fourth year students. May be repeated with different topics. Prerequisite: consent of coordinator.

Individually supervised advanced study on topic of scholarly and critical interest in a selected area of paralegal studies. May have a course fee. May be repeated with different topics. Prerequisite: Consent of coordinator.

Students volunteer to work in legal settings, taking PL 231 and with permission of the program coordinator. Student contracts work schedules with the site supervisor, who evaluates the performance for the student's files. Students may participate at five sites during their college career. May be repeated five semesters with different topics. Prerequisite: PL 231, Sophmore status, and consent of coordinator.

Requirements for graduation with a Paralegal Degree
Total legal specialty courses 19
Total required paralagel courses 14
Total paralegal electives 12
Total general studies credit hours: 54
Total other electives hours needed; can be any paralegal course not previously taken, any general studies, double major, minor, etc. 26
Total credit hours to graduate with a bachelor degree: 125

Paralegal Studies Associate Degree - (39 credit hours)

The associate degree in paralegal studies requires the completion of 39 credit hours of subject-specific coursework, in addition to the general studies requirements.

Associate Degree - Required Courses

11 credit hours required; all courses listed.

Introduces the legal assistant career: what the profession is about, what the legal assistant does and how the legal assistant can create a future.

The fundamentals of working and legal vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and diction, proper citation form, writing logically and effectively for the legal setting and reading for comprehension. Writing-intensive course culminating with research presented in a professional memorandum format. Course fee. Prerequisites: PL 200, PL 231.

Presents tort and contract law basics and the liability of persons who commit civil wrongs and/or breach contracts. Course fee. Prerequisites: PL 200, PL 231.

Students learn skills which will prepare them to assist attorneys in all activities relating to civil trial practice from pretrial to trial, appeal and enforcement/compliance procedures. Students draft documents, develop discovery plans, conduct discovery, investigate and develop trial notebooks. Prerequisites: PL 200, PL 231.

Associate Degree - Paralegal Electives

9 credit hours required. These electives can be taken from a track or from a combination of paralegal courses not otherwise required for the associate degree. See the tracks and additional class option in the Paralegal Studies Major for options.

Requirements for graduation with a Paralegal Degree
Total legal specialty courses 19
Total required paralegal courses 11
Total paralegal electives 9
Total general studies credit hours: 33
Total credit hours to graduate with an associate degree: 72

Paralegal Studies Certificate (27 credit hours)

Paralegal studies is also available as a certificate program for individuals who have already earned a baccalaureate degree.  Coursework for the paralegal studies certificate is just paralegal requirements plus an English composition course (if an English course has not been completed in the undergraduate degree).

Certificate - Required Courses

8 credit hours required; all classes listed.

Introduces the legal assistant career: what the profession is about, what the legal assistant does and how the legal assistant can create a future.

Presents tort and contract law basics and the liability of persons who commit civil wrongs and/or breach contracts. Course fee. Prerequisites: PL 200, PL 231.

Students learn skills which will prepare them to assist attorneys in all activities relating to civil trial practice from pretrial to trial, appeal and enforcement/compliance procedures. Students draft documents, develop discovery plans, conduct discovery, investigate and develop trial notebooks. Prerequisites: PL 200, PL 231.

Information about Course Requirements
We do our best to keep this information updated, but you should always double-check to ensure you are meeting graduation requirements. For the most current course requirements please review the latest undergraduate college catalog.  Always consult your academic advisor when registering for courses or when you have questions about course requirements.