Required Courses (Civil Litigation Emphasis)
Students are required to take five three-unit courses that develop the following paralegal skills:
- interviewing clients and others involved in legal matters
- performing legal research, including checking the validity of authority and cite-checking
- performing legal research electronically through computerized legal systems and the Internet
- gathering and analyzing legal and other documents
- drafting internal memoranda, correspondence, and legal forms
- drafting legal memoranda reflecting the results of research
- drafting a variety of litigation-related documents
- assisting in the preparation of cases for trial
- resolving ethical dilemmas by applying rules and law to determine the appropriate ethical conduct
- making effective oral presentations
PLS 300 and PLS 320, which may be taken concurrently, must be completed with a grade of C or better before a student may take any other class in the Paralegal Certificate program. These prerequisites will be strictly enforced. Students who receive an Incomplete in either PLS 300 or PLS 320 must clear that Incomplete before attempting to register for any other course in the Paralegal Studies program.
PLS 395: Pleadings & Motions must be completed with a grade of 'C' or better before a student may take PLS 305: Investigation, Discovery, Trial Prep.
Required Courses Schedule
• = the course is offered
|Introduction to Law/Civil Procedure||•||•||•|
|Legal Research & Writing||•||•||•|
|Communication Skills & Legal Ethics||•||•||•|
|Pleadings & Motions||•||•||•|
|Investigation, Discovery, & Trial Preparation||•||•||•|
|Introduction to Professional Legal Writing*||•||•|
Students may choose any electives to complete the 30-unit program. Elective courses offer in-depth instruction in a variety of practice areas and advanced skills in litigation and research. The range of elective options allows students to gain exposure to several different areas of law practice or to concentrate their studies in a cluster of courses that prepare them for a particular kind of employment.
The electives listed below are grouped according to the kind of practice for which these courses are most relevant. Students may concentrate in one area or take any combination of electives suited to their particular interests.
Note: All electives are offered on a rotating basis. Some electives are offered once a year and some are offered less frequently. Electives are three units.
Corporate & Business Practice:
These electives relate to corporate and business practice areas typically handled by large, mid-sized and specialized "boutique" law firms serving the business sector and by in-house counsel of corporations.
These electives enhance the skills provided in the required core courses with more sophisticated and complex skills in civil litigation. Specialties: More than 70 percent of paralegals work in litigation, usually focusing in one or two particular areas, such as Tort or business litigation. Students interested in litigation should also take some specialized practice courses to complement their general litigation skills. Note: Those interested in large law firms should take business-oriented courses; those interested in small firm practice should take Family Law, Criminal Law, and Evidence.
Some attorneys, in both large and small law firms, specialize in the planning and handling of wills, trusts, and estates. Students interested in this area should take Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning, and Probate Procedures; also of particular value in this area are Real Estate Practice and Torts, Contracts, & Elder Law.
Recommended for all areas, particularly for those without prior legal experience:
Two courses are highly recommended regardless of the chosen area of law practice. Field Experience/Internship gives students practical on-the-job work experience in a supervised setting and makes a valuable addition to a résumé. Computer Applications in Law Practice enhances the student's basic computer skills with hands-on instruction in specific legal applications and is recommended for students who are not already working in a legal setting.
Electives & Their Specialty Areas
|Elective Course Title||1||2||3||4|
*required for students who do not have a BA, highly recommended for non-native English speakers.
|Advanced Legal Research||•||•||•|
|Computer Applications II||•||•||•||•|
|Contemporary Legal Issues||•||•||•||•|
|Environmental Litigation & Compliance||•||•||•||•|
|Introduction to Professional Legal Writing*||•||•||•||•|
|Real Estate Practice||•||•|
|Trademarks & Copyrights||•||•||•||•|
|Wills, Trusts, & Estates||•|
Certificate Requirements & Award
An academic certificate is awarded after successful completion of 30 units (including all required courses and elective courses).
At least 21 units must be graded on an A-F basis. Required courses, PLS 300, 305, 310, 320, and 395 must be completed with a letter grade. See page Grades for information on registering for courses on a credit/no credit basis. Students must earn a minimum grade of C in all courses and have a cumulative average of C+ to earn the certificate. All coursework must be completed within a four-year period and financial obligations to the university must be cleared. Students who graduate with a grade point average of 3.5 or higher will have honors recognition on their certificates.
For application deadlines, see Important Dates. Application not received by the deadline will not be processed until the following semester. Please submit application to the front desk to the attention of the Paralegal Studies program. Note: Those who do not have baccalaureate degrees must attach proof of passing PLS 414 to their graduation applications.
Register for Courses Early
Admission to the Paralegal Studies program does not guarantee a seat in class. Registration for individual courses is on a first-come basis. Early registration is strongly advised. See the Register pages.
Important Information to Know before You Register
The Paralegal Studies program has two types of classes:
- Academic semester-length classes
- MCLE/CEU Saturday classes
They are each associated with a "career" and students must have an active one for the type of class they would like to enroll in. The careers are as follows:
- Academic classes - Career will be undergraduate or post-baccalaureate depending the students current level of education
- MCLE/CEU classes - Career will be Extended Education
Students can be active in both career types. Be sure to select the correct term and career for the type of class you want to register for.
The paralegal certificate is especially well suited to students who have a legal background and have worked as attorneys in their home countries as well as students who have an interest in learning about the law. After students are accepted by the Office of Internatonal Programs and have student visas, their transcripts are reviewed by the paralegal program director, and they are advised on a course plan for completing the certificate.
Most common student visa requirements are that they must take 12 units, four courses per semester, and finish the paralegal certificate in one calendar year. Students may begin in the spring or fall semester.
Suggested Courses for Three Semesters
PLS 414 Intro to Professional Legal Writing - required in the first semester.
PLS 300 Intro to Law/Civil Procedure - prerequisite for all other classes
PLS 320 Legal Research and Writing - prerequisite for all other classes
PLS 430 Computer Applications - elective
PLS 310 Communications and Legal Ethics
PLS 395 Pleadings and Motions
Choice of two elective courses
PLS 305 Investigation, Discovery and Trial Prep.
PLS 380 Paralegal Internship* or a choice of one elective course
*Students may be approved to take an internship depending on their visa status and must consult the International Student Advisor to determine eligibility.
There are only 10 courses — 30 units — required for a paralegal certificate, so students in their last semester are allowed to take a reduced course load.